New York

Viewing the New York skyline at Top of the Rock


So I asked Mariam, the New Yorker who was hosting me:

“Where do I go to get the view of New York’s skyline?”

There are a couple of places that I can go to see the New York skyline. I planned on going to just one and save the rest for my next trips. I considered the observatory at the Empire State Building, but read that Top of The Rock gives a grander view of the city, especially when it features the Empire State Building. When you’re on the Empire State Building, you can’t take a picture of the skyline with the Empire State Building. So I thought asking the opinion of a New Yorker should help.

“Go to Top of The Rock!”

So I did.


Brief history

The Rockefeller Center is one of New York’s iconic landmarks. It consists of 19 art-deco commercial buildings built on the 5th avenue in Midtown, envisioned to become the city’s “it” place to be; where you work and play and marvel at the city skyline. It’s the world’s first ever development that combines offices, stores, restaurants and entertainment venues.

The Rockefeller center was commission by the Rockefeller family (one of New York’s wealthiest families at the time) in the late 1920s. There was an issue with timing though — at the time they were planning to build it, the Great Depression hit the United States, so nobody was willing to finance a project that huge. John D. Rockefeller, Standard Oil business mogul, had to decide whether he should abandon the project or finance it on with his own money — he chose the latter, making this the largest infrastructure financed privately in the city. The rest, is history.

At the top of the Rockefeller is its observatory, Top of the Rock, where you can enjoy the 360° view of New York’s city skyline.

The Top of The Rock experience

I got on the subway on a sunny morning and arrived at Top of The Rock just before noon. Purchased my tickets on the machine, $37 to admit one adult. That’s when I learned that you can’t just walk in and go up to the observatory, there’s a time slot and there’s a cap for each! The next available time slot for me was in 30 minutes, how I wished I’d booked my ticket in advance so I’d get to go in earlier.

Once in, everyone who shared the same time slot as I do lined up to get to the elevator to the observation deck. The wait was close to 10 minutes or so, but it’s okay because along the way, everybody had the chance to learn more about the Rockefeller Center from the exhibitions displayed on the walls, feeding  us info about its history and characteristics. Just before we got on the elevator, there was a large screen playing documentaries of the Rockefeller Center. Good effort to get visitors to appreciate it.

After a swift elevator ride up, I arrived on the 67th floor, the lowest floor of the 3-floor observatory.



The lower observatory gives a great unobstructed view of the city, it was just Swarovski glass panels separating me from the city! There were New York’s most iconic buildings on the south. The classics like the Chrysler and Empire State Building and the more modern like the Bank of America Tower. The north had the view of Central Park.


I went to the upper deck, too. This one was completely open-air! Gives a great view just like the lower decks, but here you get to enjoy the impressive New York skyline as well as feeling the city’s cool breeze. Love it.

So, if you want to get a good view of the city, don’t hesitate to consider Top of The Rock. If I go to New York again with Reza, I’d definitely bring him here.

To learn more about Top of The Rock, check this out.

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