Table of contents
Welcome to New York! Magic city, the city that never sleeps, the city of excess, the city where everything is possible, the city that you feel like you already know, the city with multiple emblems… New York! And with it, its monuments, each one more incredible than the other. And today, it is on the Top of the rock that we stop.
A historic building
The Top of the Rock is located on top of the famous Rockefeller Center building. Its construction began in 1920, after the purchase of the building, then abandoned for a hundred years by Columbia University, by the oil magnate John Davison Rockefeller. Attached to his neighborhood, Midtown, he decided to invest his fortune in a large real estate complex to revitalize the area and make a city within the city. He even wanted to house the Metropolitan Opera Company there. He will never see the end of this colossal construction site, and his son will take over to complete this construction of nearly 250 billion dollars.
The Top of the Rock is the observatory of Rockefeller Center, named Comcast since 2014, following the purchase of the building from General Electric in 2014 by the cable operator Comcast.
It underwent a major renovation (almost 20 years anyway) between 1986 and 2005, which cost over $75 million.
An emblem of the city
This building, which is part of the ten tallest skyscrapers in New York, has been classified as a historical monument since 1988. During the Second World War, it housed the British intelligence services (MI6) and the American secret service. At the time of the liberation of Paris, it was at the bottom of the building, on Rockefeller Plaza, that a great popular celebration was held to announce the end of the war. The tradition wants that this one welcomes each year the highest tree of the city and its famous ice rink.
The building will also be made famous to the world thanks to the photograph Breakfast at the top of a skyscraper taken by Charles C. Ebbets in 1932, where the building was built. Ebbets in 1932, which shows construction workers having lunch on a steel crossbeam suspended in the air. An iconic shot of the Big Apple in the 1930s. Today, a corner has been set up to allow you to reproduce this photo, in complete safety of course.
The Top of the Rock owes its particularity to its architecture. It is built mainly with granite, Indiana limestone and aluminum. Unlike the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building, its roof does not have a spire. It is flat and designed like a tapered blade. The architect of the time wanted to recall, in his design, the large liners of the 1930s, wide and airy.
At the foot of the building are large Greek statues, representing Atlas and Prometheus. One carries the world, the other gave the arts and fire to humans. This building is thus a place of culture where the arts are highlighted both inside and outside.
Although the opera house could not be installed there after the economic collapse of 1929, the building was nicknamed Radio City for having seen the installation of NBC and CBS.
The most beautiful view in New York
With its central location in Manhattan, the Top of the Rock offers you the most beautiful 360° view of New York City. To reach it, you have to go up to the 67th floor, thanks to an elevator, and finish the three floors by the staircase to the 70th. Thanks to this system, it is the only viewpoint in the city without glass or protective grills. This freedom really gives you the feeling of being on the roof of the world. You’ll have an unobstructed view, right in front of the Empire State Building, with Central Park at your feet.
New York City is at your feet with this urban and green mix, separated by a very perpendicular avenue. The symmetry of the city from this vantage point is breathtaking.
This is how you will contemplate the city from a 260 m high point.
The best time of day
To visit this incredible site, every hour of the day has something to offer you.
Between 8am and 10am, you avoid the crowds (a little), and you get beautiful light and sunlight on the Empire State Building, which is right across the street. Ideal to take the most beautiful pictures of your stay.
At sunset: so romantic! With the changing colors of the sky at sunset, the view is truly magical. The last rays will reflect on the buildings and the city will start to light up. Really one of the most beautiful moments to climb this urban mountain.
At night, of course, the lights of New York offer an incredible panorama. However, you won’t really see the city and you might be a little disappointed by the climb.
The rest of the day: the sun passes after 10 o’clock over the Financial District and the view becomes (a little) less impressive.
To get to Rockefeller Center, go to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, between 50th street and 5th and 6th avenues. The building is open from 8am to midnight (last elevator up at 11pm) and you can stay as long as you want. It costs $43 per adult, and from $37 for children from 6 to 12 years old. Admission is free for children under 5 years old.
The entrance is also included if you buy the NYC Pass, which gives you access to a large number of tourist sites in the city.
Beware, the place welcomes a lot of tourists, with nearly 3 million visitors every year. Patience will therefore be required to reach the top of the city.
You will have understood, this building full of history is really part of the must-see in New York. Its unobstructed view on the city shows the greatness of the island of Manhattan, and its excessiveness. A real moment suspended out of time with your head in the clouds, and an incredible feeling of freedom. Of course, the best moment for this beautiful memory: a day of good weather!