History And Attractions Of Rockefeller Center’s Top Of The Rock

Rockefeller Center's Top Of The Rock

Feature Photo: Life In Pixels / Shutterstock.com

Different people prioritize different attractions. Despite this, some attractions consistently make it to the top of people’s lists because they possess an outsized appeal. One excellent example would be the Top of the Rock, which refers to the observatory plus observation deck combo that crowns 30 Rockefeller Plaza. There are taller competitors built into taller skyscrapers in New York City. Despite this, there are very good reasons why the Top of the Rock more than manages to hold its own.

Origins Of The Top of the Rock

Columbia University once owned the site on which the Rockefeller Center now stands. It leased the land to John D. Rockefeller Jr., who intended to build a new home for the Metropolitan Opera. That plan fell through when the stock market crashed in 1929, thus kicking off the Great Depression. Instead, Rockefeller decided to build a complex that would be used for both business and entertainment.

Due to this, it makes perfect sense that the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza would be opened to interested individuals. Strictly speaking, the Top of the Rock didn’t become the Top of the Rock until recent decades. Still, it is no exaggeration to say that the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza has been impressing people ever since the building’s completion.

One Of The Best Views of Manhattan

As mentioned earlier, the Top of the Rock isn’t a single thing. There is a three-floor observatory on the 67th, 68th, and 69th floors. Interested individuals can get a beautiful view of New York City from any of the three floors. However, if they want the best shots possible, they should head further up. That is because the 70th floor has an open-air observation deck with neither glass nor metal enclosures. It isn’t the kind of place where people with a fear of heights should set foot. For everyone else, it can be the experience of a lifetime because it is situated about 850 feet in the sky.

Of course, most people will want to immortalize the moment by taking photos. Fortunately, the 360 degrees view offers plenty of options to choose from. For example, they can see Central Park and Yankee Stadium if they look North. Similarly, they can see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty if they look East. The East features Queens plus both the Chrysler and the Metlife Buildings, while the west features New Jersey on the other side of the Hudson River. Wherever interested individuals look, they are guaranteed to capture a glorious slice of the NYC skyline to serve as background for themselves if they choose.

Other Sights of Note

With that said, there are other sights that interested individuals might also want to check out while visiting the Top of the Rock. For instance, anyone curious about the history of either the Top of the Rock, the rest of the building, or the rest of the complex should check out a couple of exhibits. First, there is the Mezzanine Exhibit, which tells the story of the Rockefeller Center using a combination of text, photos, and historical artifacts. Second, there is the Sky Shuttle. Everyone will take it up. Those who care about history should check out the ceiling, which uses a succession of photos to show how everything has transformed over time.

Moving on, the Top of the Rock has not one but two Swarovski creations meant to impress visitors. One is the Joie Chandelier. Granted, chandeliers are always centerpieces. After all, they are huge, elaborate showpieces of human craft that project light, meaning it would be very strange if they didn’t manage to catch the eye. Still, the Joie Chandelier stands out in every single respect because it consists of 14,000 crystals arranged into the rough semblance of 30 Rockefeller Plaza upside-down. Thanks to that, it looms over the lobby. Meanwhile, the other is the Radiance Wall. It is an intriguing creation of glass, crystal, and fiber-optic lighting. Curiously, it isn’t just notable because of its irregular surface. There are also numerous crystal figurines concealed in the Radiance Wall, so some people have been known to go looking for them all.

Besides these, there is also the Beam Walk, which refers to the famous Lunch Atop a Skyscraper photo. Much is unknown about how the photo came to be. For example, no one is 100 percent sure who took the photo. Charles C. Ebbets is the likeliest photographer by a considerable margin. The issue is that there were other photographers on the site at the time, meaning they can’t be ruled out as potential photographers. Thanks to that, the famous photo has gone from being uncredited to being credited and then to being uncredited a second time. Similarly, none of the 11 workers were identified until recent times. Even now, most remain unidentified because no work records from the construction of 30 Rockefeller Plaza have survived.

Regardless, the Lunch Atop a Skyscraper photo succeeded at its intended purpose of seeking publicity beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, not least because of the subjects’ death-defying actions. The Beam Walk doesn’t require interested individuals to be as adventurous. Still, it is a surprisingly good way for visitors to connect a bit with those construction workers from a century ago.

What Visitors Should Know

The Top of the Rock has a special entrance on 50th Street. Interested individuals can buy tickets for $34 to $40. However, if they are willing to pay more, they can get an express experience for $75 or a VIP experience for $110. Any refund requests have to be made at least 7 days before the reserved time slot. Past that point, interested individuals won’t be able to get a refund but will still be able to exchange their tickets for a later date and time. Thanks to this, they can just reschedule if bad weather is an issue on their original date and time. Conveniently, the Top of the Rock is open from 9 am to 11 pm every single day of the year.

Rockefeller Center's Top Of The Rock

Photo: mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

References:

https://www.rockefellercenter.com/attractions/top-of-the-rock-observation-deck/

https://www.rockefellercenter.com/magazine/arts-culture/top-of-the-rock/

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/lunch-atop-a-skyscraper-photograph-the-story-behind-the-famous-shot-43931148/

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