On top of the Rock.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by garymarsh6 on November 30, 2011

Rockefeller Centre and Top of the Rock, New York.

The Rockefeller centre is perhaps one of the must see attractions when visiting Manhattan New York. The Top of the Rock being a must do experience to take in the sights of the vibrant city of New York.

So what is the Rockefeller Centre?

It is in fact a cluster of buildings which takes up a couple of blocks between 49th and 50th street between 5th and 7th avenue. Within the complex of buildings built in the art deco style housing the NBC studios, Radio city music hall, the concourse which is an underground warren of shops and small businesses the channel gardens and the Top of the rock observation deck at 70 stories high. There are pieces or art deco statue, art pieces and stone carvings dotted around the complex and areas with evocative names such as The international building, The British Empire building, Palazzo D’Italia and La Maison Francais.

The Top of the Rock.

Work on the Rockefeller centre began in 1930 and in total took 9 years to build. The observation decks at the top of ‘the rock’ opened in 1933 which resembled the observation deck on the top of an ocean going liner.
To reach the top of the rock you take a rapid lift up to the 67th floor to reach the first observation deck then take an escalator up to the 69th and 70th floor reaching a heady height of 850 feet above the streets way below.

My visit.

The entrance to the observation deck at the top of the rock is on 50th street where you can queue to purchase your tickets or if you are a wise bunny you should pre-buy your tickets by-passing and to avoid the sometimes very long queues. The entrance takes you into the Mezzanine area where the queues for the tickets stretch for some considerable distance or you can ride the escalator or the circular flight of stairs to the third floor if you have your tickets to the entrance level and exhibition area. Hanging in the central atrium of this massive hallway is a massive Swarovski Chandelier made up of 14,000 individual crystals and fibre optic lighting. The rainbow prisms that emanate from the crystals are quite pretty and it does look somewhat interesting.

You then pass through a security check point where your bags are passed through an X-ray machine. Walking around towards the lift area you pass through a photographic exhibition with such photos like the guys sitting on hanging girders eating their lunches from their lunch box seemingly sitting hundreds of feet above the streets below. Then comes a photo opportunity where you can sit on what appears to be the girder and pose to have your photo taken which will be ready for your collection once you have finished your visit. You can even walk across one such girder which gives you the impression that you are walking in mid air as the workers so skilfully did when building the massive tower. Next you walk into a small stand up theatre to watch a brief film about the building of the Rockefeller centre. The lift to the top takes just under a minute to reach the 67th floor. You enter one side of the lift and when it reaches the top you exit the other side.

On the 67th floor there are further exhibitions of crystal some of them are massive formations which look really intriguing. There is also a wall called the radiance wall which consists of glass panels with crystals and back lighting which enhances the look of the wall. Here you can also go out to the outside terraces to give you your first view of the New York sky line. The perimeter is surrounded by toughened glass panels which allows you unobstructed views of Manhattan below you and stretching out towards the Hudson river and New Jersey to the right and Brooklyn and the East river to the left. You can also see downtown towards Battery Park and the ferry terminal to Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty and the Stratton Island Ferry terminal. The Empire state building is ahead of you as you are looking towards Liberty state park. It looks brilliant in the distance but to be honest I think the Chrysler building with its silvery showy top is more appealing to look at.

The views are pretty good from here and during poor weather you can sit inside the two story building without getting wet and viewing the sites through the windows. There is also a souvenir shop on this floor and the 69th floor where you can buy mementoes of your visit should you wish. Some of the mementos are not too tacky by the way.

Up a small escalator will bring you to the 69th floor where the outside deck gives you unparalleled views of Manhattan and the surrounding areas. To reach the 70th floor you walk up a short flight of steps where you can look down to the 69th floor viewing deck with its tall toughened glass panelling and telescopes dotted around which costs 25 cents for a few minutes to see further afield.

The top ultimate 70th floor looks like the deck of a ship with the air-conditioning outlet/inlet pipe work resembling the funnels of a ship. From here you get fantastic views completely unobstructed out towards Central Park, which incidentally looks like an oasis amid the tower blocks of Manhattan. You can see the tourist site-seeing helicopter flights buzzing all up and down the Hudson and East river. They look like little bees. Out towards Stratton Island you can see the tour boats heading out to Liberty state park and the defiant Lady the Statue of liberty standing proudly holding her torch.

Fear of Heights.

At this point of the review I am going to let you into a secret. I have a terrible and an irrational fear of heights and although I was wary about going up the Rock as it is affectionally known. The feelings I get when I am at a height include legs going like jelly and feeling that I am falling, dizziness and unable to focus on anything to try and regain a sense of equilibrium and stability to the point of wanting to cry and nail gripping the walls to try and stabilise myself. How daft is that???

I actually felt quite safe and did not feel ill at ease at any time. I even went right to the edge of the observation deck to take photos without feeling that I was falling unlike in other places I have visited where I have literally been frozen to the spot and like a quivering wreck. I have even had this feeling when sitting down and looking at pictures on the computer which has left me feeling physically sick for about 20 minutes. I can reassure anyone that if I can do it I am sure you will enjoy it too!

After our visit we retraced our steps back down to the 67th floor to take the lift back down to the lobby area. We had a meander for a little while around the shopping concourse ok ok only for about 10-15 minutes as I find shopping particularly boring. We then went out to the sunken plaza which is taken over as a skating ring in the winter months. We had a drink here in one of the lower plaza’s al fresco cafes admiring the views of the Art deco fountain with a beautiful golden statue of Prometheus which is 18 feet high and weighs in at an incredible eight tons.

Is it worth a visit?

I would say a resounding yes. I found the whole experience exciting and exhilarating and really enjoyed my visit to the Rock. You feel like you are on top of the world. We chose The Top of the Rock as opposed to the Empire state building and had great views of it from the rock. The main reason is that the Top of the Rock is not as popular as the Empire State building, you get better and more spectacular views and it is not quite as busy. Plus the added attractions of the art deco that is all over the place in the complex.

If you really wanted you could devote a whole day exploring the shops eateries exhibitions and all that the Rockefeller centre complex has to offer.

Currently opening times are as follows:

08:00 – Midnight. 7 Days a week 365 days a year!

Adult $25
Child $16
Senior $23

You can pre buy your tickets which I think is wise but if you do not have the time join the queue once you get there. The top of the rock is disabled friendly and wheelchair accessible.
Top of the Rock
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York
(212) 698-2000


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