The 52-floor Prudential Tower is the centerpiece of Prudential Center, a development of shops, department stores, restaurants, and offices adjacent to the Hynes Convention Center and Sheraton Back Bay Hotel and across the street from the Copley Place mall. The main tourist attraction here is the Skywalk, an observation deck on the tower’s 50th floor.
After the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the nearby observation deck on nearby, and taller, John Hancock Tower closed. Citing "safety and security concerns," the observation area closed, and rumor is that it has since been converted into executive offices. Fortunately, cooler minds prevailed at the Prudential Tower, and the Skywalk is still open to visitors, offering incredible views of the city and, on very clear days, several neighboring states. Visitors to the Skywalk can also partake in an audio tour (included in the admission price) that guides you around the observation deck and points out major buildings, parks, and other attractions below. The audio tour, and accompanying exhibits in the center of the building, offer glimpses of the city’s history, with a special focus on the role European immigrants have played in the area’s development.
This was my first trip the Skywalk, despite having tried on several previous occasions. In the past I’ve always arrived after the closing time or when a private party was being held, or else there was an exceptionally long wait for a ride up into the tower. Fortunately on this trip, the weather was clear, there was no wait, and I was able to make the trip up the elevator to the 50th floor. After being greeted by docents who took my admission ticket (purchased below in the building’s lobby) and being handed an audio tour player, I headed over to the windows for the view. I quickly found the audio tour somewhat of an annoying distraction and turned it off. However, my travel companion listened to all of it and really enjoyed it. Already knowing a lot about the city’s history, I was more interested in the view. The first view on the tower’s east side faced Copley Square, the Hancock Tower, downtown, the harbor, and Logan Airport. It’s always an incredible feeling to be in a building looking down on buildings that, from the street outside, tower above you. I then proceed to my right, taking in the view to the south, then west, then north, and finally back to my starting point. The city, covered in a blanket of white snow that had fallen two days earlier, was absolutely stunning. Major sights like Fenway Park, the Common and Public Garden, the Esplanade and Hatch Shell, the frozen Charles River, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and the city’s major colleges and universities (Boston College, Boston University, MIT, and Harvard) were all clearly in view.
Admission to the Skywalk ranges from $6.50 to $9.50, depending on age. Senior and student discounts are available. Hours are 10am-10pm seven days a week, with closures for private functions.