IF YOUVE EVER braved the enormous lines to visit the Empire State Building, then youve probably spent enough time standing around to notice that the stately old skyscraper that was built in the early 1930s could use a little TLC. Its not just that the exterior and the lobby looked a little worn around the edges, but also, what was up with the mismatched window frames, drop ceiling, and tacky, illuminated panels proclaiming it to be the Eighth Wonder of the World? There was enough evidence of bad remodeling jobs to make your inner Bob Vila weep.
Thankfully, the old girl has just gotten a makeover. Most of the restoration involves detail work aimed at restoring the buildings art-deco splendor, including scalloped edges, scrolls with bronze detailing, sleek glass light fixtures, and even redesigned uniforms for the attendants. And then theres the lobbys pièce de résistance, a re-creation of the lobbys original celestial mural -- a golden wonder with suns, stars, and moons that had been painted over in the 1960s.
What you cant see of the makeover, however, is just as impressive: The tower will be 38 percent more energy efficient, since a big part of the more than $550 million upgrade went to retrofitting the heating and cooling systems, as well as to refurbishing the 6,500 windows.