Heinrich and I decided to start our last full day in New York with a trip to the top of the most iconic building in New York, the Empire State Building. Built in the 14 (yes, you read that right!) months following the stock market crash in 1929, the Empire State Building is still a marvel of construction and engineering. Where I’m from, nothing gets built in that kind of a time span today, and certainly nothing of the grandeur of the Empire State Building.

Empire StateBeing as savvy as I like to think I am (perhaps I’m just an obsessive planner), I had pre-purchased front-of-the-line tickets online before we left, so Heinrich and I breezed past the small line that had already formed in the few minutes since the building opening that morning (note to anyone else planning on visiting the Empire State Building: the front-of-the-line express passes were totally worth it. Not only did we not have to wait in line, but we sped past all the other checkpoints and were treated like GOLD by the staff!).

When we reached the the eighty-sixth floor, we exited onto the wrap-around balcony with all of New York surrounding us. Despite my fear of heights, for some reason, I love seeing a city from above, be it from a plane, hot-air balloon, helicopter, or balcony, and this view of New York was breathtaking. A light haze still clung to the skyscrapers as the morning sun lazily filtered through, illuminating the streets in a golden glow.

I looked down.

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Since a trip to the top floor was included in our ticket, we snuck into another tiny, old-fashioned elevator (complete with an elevator man who manually opened and closed the doors!) and made our way to floor 102.

Unfortunately, this floor was a little less spectacular; the views were comparable to those on the floor before, and there was no outside balcony. A few information posters were plastered around the room, but ultimately, it was disappointing after the experience on floor 86.

This just seems like a cruel joke. If I need to run down 102 flights of stairs because there's a fire, I don't like my odds.

This just seems like a cruel joke. If I need to run down 102 flights of stairs because of a fire, I don’t like my odds.

Back on street level after another pair of elevator rides, Heinrich and I wandered around, stopping at the public library (seeing the beautiful pair of lions, Patience and Fortitude, on the front steps is always inspiring), the Chrysler Building (its shiny exterior and hood ornament adornments make it my favourite skyscraper!), and Grand Central Terminal before making our way back to the Lower East Side.

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The history of the Chrysler Building is actually pretty fascinating. At the time of its construction, there was pretty fierce competition to build the world's highest skyscraper. The building at 40 Wall Street was going up at the same time as the Chrysler building, and it appeared as though they would be approximately the same height. However, when the engineer of the rival building declared that his building would indeed be taller and take the title of the talles skyscraper, the engineer of the Chrysler Building secretly built a 38 metre long spire and hoisted it into the air at the very last minute to not only surpass the height of 40 Wall Street but also become the first building in the world to surpass a height of 1 000 feet! Even today, it's the tallest steel-supported brick building in the world!

The history of the Chrysler Building is actually pretty fascinating. At the time of its construction, there was pretty fierce competition to build the world’s highest skyscraper. The building at 40 Wall Street was going up at the same time as the Chrysler building, and it appeared as though they would be approximately the same height. However, when the engineer of the rival building declared that his building would indeed be taller and take the title of the tallest skyscraper, the engineer of the Chrysler Building secretly built a 38 metre long spire and hoisted it into the air at the very last minute to not only surpass the height of 40 Wall Street but also become the first building in the world to surpass a height of 1 000 feet! Even today, it’s the tallest steel-supported brick building in the world!

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

Our plan was to take the subway to Coney Island and Brighton Beach, but as we were in need of nourishment, a pit stop was in order, and I knew exactly where we needed to go.

“Are we there yet?” Heinrich asked, annoyed, as we walked past restaurant after restaurant en route to our destination.

“Almost, Honey,” I promised as we crossed yet another street. We were so close, I could practically smell the yeast dough.

This is where I took Heinrich:

If you're in New York, just eat here. That's all there is to it.

If you’re in New York, just eat here. That’s all there is to it.

I love doughnuts, and I’d heard so many things about this place that I simply had to try them out for myself. It was imperative. It was destiny.

The variety of doughnuts at the Doughnut Plant was not expansive, but it was all anyone should ever need when in the market for a good doughnut; there were several different kinds of glaze as well as filled flavours. Oh, and they were all square, and they were all huge.

Heinrich and I decided on vanilla glazed and PB&J-filled doughnuts. We sat at a booth, and as the lunch rush began filing in and filling the shop, we experienced a little bit of heaven.

As much as I adore doughnuts, I’m far from a connoisseur. However, these square wonders were perfect. The vanilla bean glaze surrounded a wonderfully fluffy and chewy yeast dough confection, and I savoured each incredible bite. Even Heinrich agreed that it was worth the walk.

After deciding against ordering more doughnuts (the line was out the door as we finished up), we headed across Brooklyn toward Brighton Beach and Coney Island.