on October 8, 2010
Top of the Rock is an observation deck covering three floors at the top of the Rockefeller Center. It boasts great views of the city, including a view of the Empire State Building, and is also well known for shorter queues than the aforementioned. After carefully planning my recent trip to New York, my mind was made up that I’d much rather go up to Top of the Rock than the alternative, the Empire State Building. The main reasons being a shorter queue (and I didn’t fancy spending an hour or two waiting to go up the Empire State Building!) and also Top of the Rock offers good views of the city including being able to view the Empire State Building itself, which you can’t see if you’re on that observation deck. I wanted to time my visit perfectly so that I could view the city as the sun was setting; essentially meaning I could view the city in the daylight, and then at night as all the lights of the city come on.After a quick subway ride and a helpful local to point us in the direction, we arrived at the Rockefeller Centre. Once inside it was a bit confusing where to go at first, but once we found the correct place the signs from then on made it simple. What first shocked me as we went to get our tickets was the lack of a queue; we walked straight up and got our tickets, got straight through security, and were ushered into the first elevator to go up a floor or two to get the proper elevator. Here we wandered around a small display containing information about the history of the building, and you can have your photo taken pretending to re-enact that famous workmen photo before moving into watching a film. As the film was half way through, we attempted to watch it but left after a minute or so, eager to get the elevator up to the observation deck. We only had to wait 2 minutes before we got into the final elevator, and were told the lift would take 42 seconds to reach the top before the doors closed on us and we were being zapped up through the building. Looking up at the roof of the elevator I could see small blue lights guiding the way to the top, making me slightly giddy as these came rushing past and we got closer to the top. The roof also had a projection on it of something, but I wasn’t paying too much attention to that, instead being amazed at how quickly we were advancing up through the building.Top of the Rock is a 3 level observation building, and it takes up the 67th, 69th and 70th floors of the building. The first level you come out onto is the 67th floor, and as you leave the elevator and round the corner you can immediately see out the windows a lovely view of central park. There is also a small gift shop here and a bar area. The evening that I went up there was a bad playing in the bar area, and it made for a lovely atmosphere. The outside sections are the smallest viewing points on this floor, and the view is obstructed by fully transparent safety glass which is much nicer than looking through wired fencing which is usually the case with observation decks. There are gaps in the safety glass every so often big enough to fit your camera through to take shots of the city without the glass ruining it. There were also gray leather seats here to lounge around on with a beverage from the bar, I choose to have a glass of wine and go indoors and sit on a window ledge though. The visibility on the day I visited was brilliant, and I could even see the statue of liberty right in the distance, so if you want great views I would try and go when the weather is a bit clearer.After a while we decided to head on up to the 69th floor deck, again this has the safety glass except the view goes around the whole building this time and has a much better feel to it. Go upstairs to the 70th floor deck and you have a complete 360’ view of the city, and no safety glass! I got a good spot with a view directly towards the empire state building, and it made for an amazing view watching the sunset and the city begin to light up. In the distance you can see the camera flashes from people standing on the empire state building observation deck, and I wasn’t jealous at all, after all Top of the Rock has great views of the whole city including central park, where as the view to the park is rather blocked for people who choose the Empire State option. We spent over an hour at the top watching the sunset and it was an enjoyable experience which I will never forget. After taking it all in and having took enough photos to satisfy, we decided to get the elevator back down to explore the city, and again we didn’t even need to queue to get the lift back down to the bottom.Top of the Rock is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and if you don’t want to waste your time in New York standing around in queues, then I highly recommend this over the Empire State Building. Ticket information can be found on the website: http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/tickets However as adults we paid $21 each, and you have as much time as you want to take in the views of Manhattan. The top level does get rather chilly as there is no safety glass to shield the wind, so wrap you warm if you are visiting in the colder months! The entrance is on 50th St between 5th and 6th Avenue and is open daily from 8am till Midnight with the last elevator going up at 11pm.
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