top of page
  • Writer's pictureMark Vogel

Top of the Rock in New York City: My Adventures at the Heights of History at 30 Rockefeller Plaza

New York City

Top of the Rock in New York City
Top of the Rock in New York City

Over the year, I've witnessed the evolution and enduring charm of the Top of the Rock Observation Deck in New York City. Located at the pinnacle of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, this iconic destination offers three levels of indoor and outdoor observation decks, providing unparalleled, unobstructed views of the city's skyline. From its terraces facing east, west, north, and south, visitors are treated to a 360-degree panorama of the Big Apple, making it a must-visit spot in the city.

“Each visit to Top of the Rock has offered a unique perspective on New York's ever-changing skyline.

The history of Top of the Rock is as fascinating as its views. Originally closed in 1986, the deck underwent extensive refurbishment before reopening in 2005. This renovation not only restored its grandeur but also enhanced the visitor experience, blending historical significance with modern amenities.

Top of the Rock

Although I suggest visiting the Empire State Building, a quintessential New York City landmark, what sets Top of the Rock apart is its perfect vantage point for capturing the Empire State Building in your photos. Additionally, from the northern side of the observation deck, you're presented with a stunning view of Central Park's vast expanse.


Each visit to Top of the Rock has offered a unique perspective on New York's ever-changing skyline. Over the years, I've seen new skyscrapers rise, altering the city's architectural skyline. This dynamic transformation is most evident from the observation decks, where the juxtaposition of historic landmarks and modern structures tells the story of a city that's constantly evolving.


Recently, Top of the Rock introduced an exciting new feature: The Beam Experience. This addition allows visitors to recreate the iconic 1932 photograph of ironworkers lunching on a steel beam during the construction of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Situated 12 feet above the deck, The Beam provides an exhilarating ascent and a unique way to engage with the city's history.

Top of the Rock

The observation deck is divided into three levels, each offering a distinct experience. Level 1 is home to The Weather Room, a rooftop café serving elevated, locally sourced fare. On Level 2, visitors can find The Beam, the newest attraction. Finally, Level 3, the open-air roof deck, is perfect for unobstructed photo opportunities against the majestic backdrop of the city skyline.


Top of the Rock Facts and Features


1. 30 Rockefeller Plaza: This building is the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center, a complex of 19 commercial buildings in Midtown Manhattan. Designed by the architect Raymond Hood, 30 Rockefeller Plaza (often referred to as the Comcast Building) was completed in 1933. It is a stunning example of Art Deco architecture and has become an iconic symbol of New York City.


2. Rockefeller Center: The entire Rockefeller Center complex was developed by the Rockefeller family and is known for its significant contributions to art and architecture. It's home to numerous artworks, including sculptures, murals, and reliefs, by famous artists like Lee Lawrie and Isamu Noguchi.


3. NBC Studios: 30 Rockefeller Plaza is famously home to NBC Studios, where several well-known television shows are filmed, including "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and it’s where "Saturday Night Live" is broadcast live from. The building and its studios have played a significant role in the history of American television.

Top of the Rock

4. Radio City Music Hall: Adjacent to Rockefeller Center is the famous Radio City Music Hall, another iconic entertainment venue. Known as the "Showplace of the Nation," it's renowned for its Art Deco design and the annual Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes.


5. The Rainbow Room: Located on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the Rainbow Room is a historic restaurant and event venue. It offers a glamorous dining experience with spectacular views of the city and is known for its elegant Art Deco decor.


6. Seasonal Attractions: Rockefeller Center is well-known for its seasonal attractions, most notably the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and ice-skating rink, which attract thousands of visitors annually and are integral parts of New York City's holiday traditions.


7. Sustainable Practices: The building and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck are committed to sustainable practices. In 2009, 30 Rockefeller Plaza received a LEED Silver certification for existing buildings.


Throughout my visits, the Top of the Rock has remained a constant in showcasing New York's dynamic spirit. It's a place where history and modernity converge, offering breathtaking views and a deep connection to the city's architectural and cultural evolution. Their lasting allure to both tourists and New Yorkers alike underscores their deep-rooted significance and charm within New York City.


Recent Articles

bottom of page