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What to Expect At All 5 New York Observatories!

Mankind always had a fascination and determination to reach for the skies. New York symbolized that eagerness to touch the clouds since the first skyscrapers began to emerge in the latter half of the 19th century. In the past 200 years, the iconic Manhattan skyline now stretches from the World Trade Center in the Financial District to the new canyon of slender residential buildings along Billionaire's Row in Midtown. Among these giants are 5 public New York observatories that allow tourists, locals, and people from around the world to gaze over the city from such high vantage points. Below are descriptions of what to expect when visiting each of these unique place:


1) One World Observatory 

The first contender on our list is located on the top floors of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the city with an architectural height of 1,776 feet which commemorates the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The two-story observatory, although being the only one that is completely indoors, provides magnificent 360-degree views of the New York harbor to the south, New Jersey to the west, Brooklyn and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the entire stretch of the Midtown skyline from the Hudson to the East Rivers to the north. Looking down, one can see the 9/11 Memorial and museum featuring the two reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood. Along with the observatory is a gift shop, a cafe, and a restaurant called ONE Dine, all of which can be accessed through the selection of tickets prior to going up. 


2) The Edge 

The Edge is by far the most daring engineering marvel for an observatory design. Opened in 2020, it consists of a steel-framed cantilevering triangular platform, part of which has a glass floor looking down over 10th Avenue, that hangs off the side of the skyscraper. One can see the entire scope of the New York skyline with unprecedented clarity from a view never seen before. Alongside the Edge is the Peak, a high-end indoor restaurant with a bar one floor above that provides a gorgeous viewpoint of the city while eating some of the most decadent meals over 1,000 feet in the sky.


3) SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

This is New York City's newest observatory, having celebrated its one-year opening on October 21. The three-story indoor-outdoor experience features a collection of immersive spaces and art installations from Kenzo Digital, called "Air." The first and biggest room at SUMMIT is the two-story mirrored atrium called Transcendence 1, providing a mesmerizing visual spectacle of seeing the grid and buildings of New York on every floor tile column and wall paneling. Other exciting aspects include two glass boxes hanging more than 1,000 feet over Madison Avenue, artwork by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, a balloon-filled room called "Affinity," a room with a massive LED screen called "Unity" giving one the experience of flying above the clouds, and finally a cafe called and an outdoor terrace on the third and final level. It is here one can also ride two elevators with glass floors that take one above the facade for a better view of New York in the daytime or nighttime. 


4) The Empire State Building

It's hard to separate New York City from the Empire State Building; they are one and the same and are inextricably associated with each other since the Art Deco masterpiece was completed in 1931. The 86th-floor outdoor observatory platform has been a gathering point for tens of millions of people for almost a century. Alongside  the robust interior renovations are many immersive photo-ops before one even reaches the 86th floor. Another recent and previously closed off part is the 102nd floor observatory that truly gives an astonishing 360-degree view behind tall floor-to-ceiling glass windows.  Tickets for this upper section require its own separate ticket that's not part of the standard access to the 86th floor. Nonetheless, any visit will certainly create lifelong memories for all who come. 


5) Top of the Rock 

Our final observatory is another New York classic that is synonymous with a must-see destination for any visitor to the city that never sleeps. Over 70 floors above Midtown, it features several indoor and outdoor platforms spread over 3 floors. What makes Top The Rock uniquely charming is that although it may not be the highest or the tallest, its centralized location in Midtown makes it a great spot to see all the famous and iconic New York landmarks in every direction. For those that visit in December, the annual Rockefeller Christmas tree brightly shines down below and gives another wonderful place to celebrate the holidays and take in the sights of seasonal decorations and festivities.

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