There's something disorienting about being on top of the Empire State Building when the sun has not yet come up and the observation deck is empty. Like you're a cake topper in a beautiful, twinkling post-apocalyptic world. 8 million people and you're the only one to be standing in this iconic spot right now? It's both thrilling and terrifying... but then the city starts to come alive and it's nothing short of magic. The lights of other historic skyscrapers begin fading as the sun captures your attention, glass buildings reflect the changing sky's hues, a mix of pastels you'd associate more with a Los Angeles aesthetic. But here it is, clashing against our steel skyline. Are you the only one seeing this?

This was more or less what I was thinking during a recent early morning trip to the top of the Empire State Building, which offers a limited number of sunrise tickets for the experience before the standard 8 a.m. opening. They let us up about 30 minutes before everyone else to set up cameras, and while I wasn't really alone (two coworkers and two security guards were there), it was easy to feel enveloped in solitude 1,050-feet above Midtown.

Here's what we captured while there:

The experience costs $115 (tickets during regular visiting hours start at $38 for adults), and although they open up 100 tickets each time, on the day we were there only around 15 others were there, all scattered about the 86th floor observation deck, taking selfies and (some, shockingly) taking it all in sans phones in hand. It was quiet, cold and you could linger as long as you wanted. Click through for the view...