Back in February we decided to visit the Top of the Rock - the observation deck of the GE building at the Rockefeller Center. The first time we were in New York City we visited the Empire State building, so this time we planned to give the Top of the Rock a try. For although the top of the Rock isn't as high as the viewing areas at the top of the Empire State building, being further uptown does give it different views. Views that include a better view of Central Park.
As well as views of the Empire State building itself.
I have to admit, once we bought our ticket and had made it through security, we only took a quick glance around the information, history on the walls and the videos you can watch - we decided to breeze through it to make sure we were at the top for sunset but there was a lot of information about the construction and history of Rockefeller Center and the GE building. To get a sense of scale, here are a few photos of the GE Building (the top of which is 'the Top of the Rock') which I took earlier in the week that we were there.
So we were soon at the lifts (aka Elevators). It may just have been the time of day or it may be the lifts are just speedy but there was a very short queue for the lifts to reach the observation decks. As we waited in the short line, the guy managing the lifts was friendly and chatting to everyone, it was quite relaxed and it wasn't long before we were being hauled skyward. The lift was awesome! Unlike the Empire State Building's lifts, this one has a transparent roof with a projector and lights - so you can see where you're heading - it's as close as I think I'll ever get to be in Willy Wonka's great glass elevator. So as you're lifted up the remainder of the 70 floors, you get a fancy light show that looms towards you. It was also cool on the way down being able to see how far you've descended!
At the Top you have an indoor area and a couple of outdoor areas on different levels.
We started off by heading up to the top to take in the view. It was kind of windy up there on the day we went and so it was quite a challenge to take some steady shots of the skyline.
On the day we were there, being February and all, the wind-chill factor meant it was icy cold on the very top level. This was fine whilst the sun was out but as the sun set, it suddenly became apparently that in retrospect I should have brought gloves with me as I soon couldn't feel my fingers very well. It wasn't as grand a sunset as that we were lucky enough to see from the Empire State Building a couple of years back but it was still very pretty.
Though far away, you can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance to the South.
The urban sprawl of Brooklyn in the distance to the East.
And the more industrial areas of New Jersey to the West.
New York is awesomely picturesque as an urban scene. One of the best photo opportunities of being at the top of the rock is the almost uninterrupted view of Central Park but on this day, although mild at street level, up there, something like 250m up, it was rather chilly. We soon saw the results of that cold air meeting warm as some big dark clouds loomed from the North that quickly enveloped Central Park.
As the clouds got closer, darkness fell and the city began to light up.
Besides the views there is also a shop and an awesome room containing some more flashy lights which we hung around in to keep warm whilst the rest of the city lit up.
As the snow swirled around in the wind, the Empire State Building was illuminated - it was a sight that my photo below really didn't do justice.
Eventually we had to get a move on to head for food so got back in the lift and made our way back down to Earth but it had been well worth the entrance fee. I think if we were to choose between the Empire State and the Top of the Rock observation decks again (Both being must do's but for the sake of choosing one for a repeat visit) I'd probably pick the Top of the Rock.