As of October 21, 2022, New York City already has five observatories, with the opening of Summit One Vanderbilt.
You’re going to say to me, “Hey, but that’s enough, why would I go to another observatory?” And my answer is simple: “This observatory offers not only a fantastic view but also a unique experience.” So I hope my article makes you want to visit it.
The Observatory will be closed to the public from January 17 to February 1, 2023!
A few facts about Summit One Vanderbilt
The building called “One Vanderbilt” is located at 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, right next to Grand Central Terminal.
Created by SL Green, work began in 2016 and finished in 2019. It is the fourth tallest building in NY, measuring 1400ft (427 meters). It has 59 floors, 42 elevators, 1.750.212 sq ft (162600 m2) of offices, and some stores. The observatory is at 1099 ft (335 meters), over three floors.
A unique experience
The designers of the observatory sought to offer an “inspiring, exhilarating, transcendent, captivating…” experience where you can let your imagination take you to new horizons.
I would add that you will have a multitude of experiences, which will all be unique to each part of the observatory. It has several spaces with different themes and activities indeed.
The second floor of the observatory is a vast room with large windows and mirrors everywhere. In the pictures, you can see that it was dusk, and the light was a bit dim. It is not the case when you go in the middle of the day when there is much more light.
You can walk around as you like in this first room and have an incredible view of the Chrysler Building.
You can see Bryant Park and a small part of Times Square to the west.
You can see the second floor from the first room, so “Let’s go up!”.
After passing through the west side of the building, you come to one of the most “instagrammable” rooms at Summit One Vanderbilt: a small space with mirrored balloons filled with air and helium.
From this window, you will see the north of the tower, and more precisely Central Park.
Take the escalator to the 2nd floor of the observatory.
Here the light has incredible effects with all the mirrors. I imagine that the pictures are confusing you. You will feel like you in the Matrix, between reality and its reflections everywhere.
Then you can continue to the other rooms and keep going up to reach the third and last floor. There is a bar where you can order alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and small snacks. The rates are similar to any rooftop, $18 a cocktail, $14 a glass of wine, $10 a beer, and $9 to $10 a sandwich.
You can go out on the 3rd-floor terrace. There is another bar, large windows, and two elevators that go even higher. The walls and floor of the elevators are transparent so that you can see everywhere. So if you want to do it for the elevator experience, go for it. But don’t do it thinking you’ll get a better view. Let’s say that once at the top, you’ll see about the same as from the main observatory.
On your way out, you’ll find the souvenir store.
How to prepare for your visit?
The best thing to do is to take your time.
Don’t book anything after Summit One Vanderbilt, so you won’t need to rush your visit. Instead, enjoy all the views it offers and stay as long as you want.
Then I would recommend going at sunset to see the light changes.
If you stay long enough, you will see New York at night, as in the following photo.
Let’s talk about the wait to go up
At the moment, it is not very pleasant. I say this for the moment because I hope they will fix this issue.
Upon arrival, you see this giant line to get through.
After presenting your health pass (part of the measures against Covid in NYC), they give you some sunglasses and some protections that you put on your shoes to avoid scratching the floor made of mirrors.
Then you have to continue waiting in a rather dark corridor before accessing the elevators. In the end, it can take you almost an hour and a half before going up to the observatory.
Caution when visiting Summit One Vanderbilt
As I indicated above, the observatory has three floors. You can spend as much time as you want and work your way up, but be careful! If you are already on the upper floor, you can’t go back down to the lower floor. So enjoy each floor, enjoy the views and take as many pictures as you want before you continue visiting the observatory.
When is the best time to visit Summit One Vanderbilt?
It seems that the best time is to arrive at 1h-1h30 before sunset. Check beforehand on this website for sunset times so that you can book your visit in good time. I recommend you book your ticket between 2h30-3h before sunset, remember, it will take you at least one hour before you can go up to the observatory.
It is worth waiting a bit to see New York at night.
Which rate to choose?
They propose three rates:
– $39 to go up to the observatory,
– $59 to go up to the observatory and have the see-through elevator experience,
– $73 for all of this and a cocktail.
I really don’t think it is necessary to pay more for the elevator. However, keep in mind that at 1h30 before sunset, the $10 fee goes up… That’s why I recommend you to arrive at least 2h30-3h before 😉
Do I need to make a reservation for the One Summit Vanderbilt?
Yes. At the moment you can book up to 10 days in advance. But if you want a specific time slot, book 3 to 2 weeks in advance – don’t wait until you’re in New York! You won’t find tickets available.
– Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays,
– 1:00 am to 10:30 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays,
– 9 am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays,
– 9:00 am to 9:00 pm on Sundays.
How to get to Summit One Vanderbilt?
The building is located on 42nd Street, next to Grand Central Terminal. To get to the observatory entrance, you must go through the southwest station entrance, walk down the ramp and keep walking to the left. You will see large wooden doors with the sign “OBSERVATION DECK.”
Address: 45 E 42nd St, New York.
This new observatory in New York is a marvel. Once at the top, you forget about the long wait to go up, so don’t miss the One Summit Vanderbilt!