Top of the Rock observation deck
The Top of the Rock observation deck deemed “The Crown of Rockefeller Center,” is an observation tower located in midtown Manhattan. The top three floors offer one of New York’s most spectacular views. The entrance is next to Radio City Hall, on 50th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues, and a sparkling Swarovski chandelier with 14000 crystals greets the visitor in the lobby. A large reproduction of the photograph ‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ by Ebbets is featured here—it will be obvious that you are in the right place. After ascending the winding staircase, visitors enter a mezzanine that houses a time line relating the history of Rockefeller center.
At the photo opportunity area, visitors can sit on a metal beam and recreate their own version of the iconic 1932 photograph, “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” by Charles C. Ebbets. While doing so, if visitors look down at the ground, they will see an animation that shows what would have been happening underneath the workers as they took their break on that summer afternoon. The “beam walk,” with men passing buckets on ropes and climbing up and down the building, can be easily missed, so keep those eyes glued! Visitors then enter a two-lane walkway with a mini film theater. Here guests have the opportunity to watch four-minute movies about the history of Rockefeller Center, the NBC Studio, and what it’s like to be one of the famous Rockettes. Next, it is on to the elevator to take visitors to the Top of the Rock.
The elevator ride—the summit shuttle—is an attraction in itself. Blue lights illuminate each passing floor, and historic images rapidly flash onto the ceiling, an effect that gives the impression that the elevator is being hurled through time. At the end of this speedy trip (which lasts just under a minute), visitors exit onto the 67th floor (which is actually two stories tall, explaining the missing 68th floor).
Unlike the Empire State Building, where the view is partially blocked by a security fence, the Top of the Rock offers an unimpeded 360-degree view of the city, thanks to clear glass windowpanes from the ground up. You can also see the Empire State Building from here—something you can’t do from their observation deck.
This level also has an enclosed Weather Room, which offers the visitor the same view should inclement conditions hamper outdoor viewing. In the foyer, $2 maps are available that identify all the major buildings and landmarks visible, and a gift shop on the 68th floor caters to all souvenir needs.
The observatory on the 70th floor rises above the windowpanes with a clear view of the Lower Manhattan in one direction and Central Park and beyond in the other. The multi-faceted rock-like glass interior reflects the art-deco theme of the building.
On a clear day and with a little help from binoculars or a telephoto lens you can see as far as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
The Top of the Rock is open from 8:00 AM – Midnight, last elevator at 11PM. Save time when you arrive and plan ahead buy tickets in advance.
by Declan O’Kelly