As we were walking past the Empire State Building and the line that extended from the lobby out onto 5th Avenue and around the corner onto 34th Street, I was glad someone told me about the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center) which hadn't been open for visitors on my last trip to NYC.
We prepurchased tickets on their website for a specific time, it appeared that as long as you visited after the time of your ticket you were OK to go in. You can also get tickets at the booth that was on 50th Street or inside, there was no line when we passed by. It wasn't cheap to go up, $17 for adults, quite a bit more than the observatories in Chicago.
I'm surprised that more people don't come here, I'd be annoyed if I had to spend 2 hours waiting to go up the Empire State Building and if you're on the top of the Empire State Building you can't see the Empire State Building.
There are several viewing levels, some views are enclosed, some are open air behind plexiglass. On your way up, you can stop and read about the history of Rockefeller Center and watch several 4 minute movies on the history, on the Rockettes or on NBC Studios.
Picture 1-View of Central Park
Picture 2-if you look in the distance you can see the Statue of Liberty
Picture 3-Empire State Building
Picture 4-me modeling the stylish Stormtrooper boot I had to wear on my visit
Picture 5-Rooftop garden
One of the top 10 things to do has been to go to the top of the Empire State Buiding and enjoy the bird's eye view of the city. However, there's something better.... The Top of the Rock.
Not only do you get a great view of the city (360 degree), you can take photos of the Empire State Building and Central park. There are 3 different observation floors, the two lower have a plexaglass barrier, with slits to photograph through, and the top (70th floor) is totaly open and great for photographers.
While many websites, say buy your ticket early, and be ready to wait. I had no problems, with lines. They open the doors at 8am, which is when I arrived... no line. Then I returned that night at 7 pm, and found a very short line (less than 5 minutes)
You can buy your tickets online (at thier website) Also they sometimes offer special online deals. You can buy a two visit ticket for only $10 more. This will allow you to visit in the daytime, then again after dark. If you only want to go up once it's $20 plus $2 if you want a map of the city.
Photographer note: The 70th floor is closed if there is lighting in the area. Also they an aggrement with Kodak not to let you use a full size tripod. I got buy with the monopod, but not sure if it was just luck. You are allowed to use a mini tripods or beanbags and there are large ledges to set up on.
Taking pictures or just sightseeing from the Empire State Building is like shooting photos
from the Eiffel Tower in Paris:
one of the best buildings isn't in the shot.Top of the Rock is finally open again and fixes that problem. You can look south towards the Empire State building or north towards Central Park for a great view of Manhattan.
It costs $17.50, during the week it's not crowded and slow like the Empire State Building, the staff seems to be friendlier, ... just a more relaxed and imo higher quality experience than the observation deck of the Empire State Building, plus, you actually get to see the Empire State building.
For lots of info & history, check out the excellent websiteDusk / sunset is my favorite time to visit.
Foto tip: Per T o' Rock staff the rule is supposedly NO TRIPODS, so night digital shots might get a little digi-blurry without a tripod.
I suspect the "no tripod rule" is kind of a wink-wink thing
(they let you take 'em up there).
If your tripod is small / collapsible and you don't get in the way of others, you might be able to get away with it.
Virtually no heavy crowds or waiting on normal weekdays,
and for visiting on weekends or the 'heavy' holidays you can book the ticket on the web & print it or reserve by phone.
It's open from ~ 8:30 a.m. to midnight (last elevator is at 11 p.m) 365 days a year.
I think it's easily worth the money.
There is an observatory at the top of the Rockefeller Center and I had the opportunity to do this. After you get your ticket there is plenty of interpretation on the center’s construction, history and Rockefeller’s philanthropy.
Once you are to the top of the center you will see all of New York and as far as the eyes can see on a good day. It was from here I got the sense of Manhattan’s magnitude and our tour guide gave me an orientation of all the boroughs. I recommend this visit for a great view of central park, the Empire State Building and countless other things. From this perch you can just barely see the Statue of Liberty and this statue is huge.
TOP OF THE ROCK™ is an experience in history and scenery that culminates with unparalleled views of New York City from the newly opened Observation Deck on the 70th floor of 30 Rockefeller Center, in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Visit during the day to see the splendor of the city unfold beneath you or visit at night and see the city sparkle.
You have to go there and wait for the sunset, so you will see the city turning on light. Its a great view.