As I mentioned in my post about Reigniting Travel Enthusiasm during my last visit to New York City, I was determined to get out and take advantage of what the city had to offer. During my last few visits, I hadn’t spent much time getting out and seeing the city. I was a hypocrite; I was NOT making the most of my travel opportunities and was content to lounge at my friend’s apartment instead.
To reignite that enthusiasm, I was determined to have one New York City experience that had been on my list for some time – taking in the view of the New York City skyscrapers from the top of Rockefeller Center – also known as Top of the Rock, and of course I was dragging my local New Yorker friend with me.
While the Empire State Building might be the more popular observation deck to visit, Top of the Rock was not lacking visitors. Without making online reservations, visitors can expect to wait a couple hours before their assigned visitation window. Thankfully, we booked our tickets online ahead of time for a 7:00 window – perfect timing to watch the sun set over the island of Manhattan.
When we arrived, we were led into the waiting area in the bottom of Rockefeller Center to board an elevator. The elevator whisked us up a couple floors – to the top of the waiting area. Here we went through security, an obligatory photo booth where we recreated the famous ‘lunchtime atop a skyscraper’ photo, and were once again herded into another waiting area where we were treated to some films on the history of Rockefeller Center.
After waiting our turn, we were guided through a set of hallways to another elevator – this time it was the elevator that would actually take us to the Top of the Rock. It looked like any standard elevator but once we started moving, the lights shut off, the ceiling became transparent and videos of Rockefeller Center were projected as we shot up 70 stories to the roof.
When we arrived at the top, it dawned on me that between the waiting areas, movies, and elevator rides, almost an hour had passed – giving the sun plenty of time to set while we were inside. I dashed to the windows to see the last slivers of a red sun fall below the horizon. When booking my ticket, I had not accounted for the actual time it would take to get to the Top of the Rock – something to take note of if you’re ever planning your own visit someday.
Though I was a bit disappointed that we’d missed most of the sunset, I was treated to the twilight hour – when the sky darkens and New York’s skyline lights up with a million twinkling lights.
The star of this view is the Empire State Building. When I visited, it was still the tallest building in New York City, however, as of this past Monday, One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan has since taken that title. If you look in the background of the picture above, you can see it under construction.
Top of the Rock provides a 360 view of New York City and the surrounding area: Queens to the East, New Jersey to the West, Central Park and the Bronx to the North. At the southern tip of Manhattan I could make out the Brooklyn Bridge spanning the Hudson into its namesake borough. I felt like I could see forever – and I figured if I squinted, maybe I could see all the way to Philadelphia.
New York City is a BIG place. Walking along the sidewalks through the canyons of skyscrapers, it’s easy to feel insignificant and lost in this megalopolis. But from the Top of the Rock, I had a completely opposite feeling. In one field of view, I could see the East and Hudson Rivers, Central Park, my friend’s apartment building, 5 Pointz, and more. It helped bring the city into perspective.
For a fleeting moment, I saw the city from a new vantage point. And though I soon returned to the streets and sidewalks below, I’ll never forget my new found view of the city.
John’s Note – My visit to Top of the Rock was sponsored in part by Holiday Hypermarket. As always, all opinions are my own.