The cramped observation decks [of the Empire State Building] on the 86th and 102nd floors are startlingly profitable, especially during the holiday season, when tourists swarm the city.
The decks attract four million visitors a year and generated $60 million in profits in 2010, while the owners made little if any money on the office space, according to newly disclosed documents that offer a rare glimpse at the building’s balance sheet. ...
Even with adult tickets ranging from about $20, for a trip to the 86th floor, to $55, for those who want to avoid the lines and get to the top, attendance never sags.
--Charles Bagli, NYT, on office spaces as loss leaders for the observatories on top