Once again there are 2 places to view New York from “on high”. Prior to the terrible events of September 11, tourists would visit the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center Towers to gaze upon New York from the dizzy heights. For a while there was then just the Empire State Building, the stunningly beautiful art deco building remaining a popular attraction.
Then some years ago, the Rockefeller Center revamped and opened “The Top of the Rock”, not surprisingly at the top of the equally stunning art deco style building.
Personally, I prefer the “Top of the Rock” to the Empire State Building – although if course any first time visit to New York requires a visit to the more famous Empire State Building. The Rockefeller location, which is further uptown, means that you can get a stunning view of Central Park and the prestigious uptown area. Plus, as the photos on the blog here show, you also a quite fantastic view downtown with great photo opportunities of the Empire State building.
It costs about $20 each and the process to get through and to the top is fairly smooth. You weave through security and then wait in one of 3 holding pens while they run three 4 minute films about the center, the history of media and the center and about being one of the famous Rockettes. Every 4 minutes one of the holding queues leaves and goes up the elevators. The top of the elevator goes clear when it starts and clips and dates are projected wand you can see up the lift shaft as you shoot up to the top.
In peak seasons it is an idea though to try and get here early, as you could still wait a while to get up.
The viewing area is on 3 levels. The first is all enclosed, the second has large thick glass panes all round so you have amazing views and then the top is open and you can get really great photos. There is a small stand selling refreshments and a souvenir shop, with a large one at the bottom.
Overall it is fairly efficient to get up and round, and should be a must do visit. Do not forget your camera!
The area round the Rockefeller Center is overall a must –do as in winter there is the famous ice rink, at Christmas the massive tree and then it is a short walk to the glitzy 5th Avenue and the up-market shops.
Top of the Rock Rockefeller Center New York (2), originally uploaded by garybembridge.
Read my full New York review and suggestions: New York in 48 Hours. The Ultimate Guide on what to see