Let me start by saying that I’ve only ventured to Summit One Vanderbilt observatory during the tranquil embrace of sunrise. If you’ve seen the crowds during regular daytime hours on social media, you’ll understand why. As the newest observatory in New York City, this place can get busy, with security noting that it can see up to 7,000 visitors on any given day. During the early morning of World Photo Day, it was only open to 300. As a photographer, I couldn’t miss the opportunity, even if it meant sacrificing precious sleep.
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Summit One Vanderbilt offers a captivating spectacle with its mirrored interiors and unobstructed views of iconic skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building to the east and the Empire State Building to the south. Opening hours are generous, stretching until midnight, with the last entry at 11 p.m., making it ideal for late-night city explorers.
Designed by Kenzo Digital, SUMMIT’s observatory, known as “Air,” is a three-level, immersive space perched 1,000 feet above the bustling city streets of New York City. Before you ascend to this urban paradise, you’ll be required to slip on “sneaker condoms” at the entrance to protect the glass floors from scratches.
The journey to the top is a thrilling one. You’ll zoom up 91 floors in a lightning-fast 43 seconds. When the doors open, the first room you’ll step into is Transcendence 1. There’s also Transcendence 2 on the 92nd floor that looks down on Transcendence 1. Be warned though, everything is reflective, so if you wear skirts or dresses, make sure you have something underneath to avoid flashing!
The Affinity Room, a personal favorite, is like stepping into a fun house filled with interactive wonders. It’s the only space where you can truly lose yourself in the experience. Now, there is one minor hiccup – the once-open view of the north side of NYC is now partially blocked by the construction of JP Morgan’s 270 Park Ave. building. It’s a bit of an eyesore, to be honest. I can still remember the days when I worked in corporate and this view was wide open, long before the glass towers of Billionaires Row started to fill the sky
If you’re considering a visit to Summit One Vanderbilt observatory, tickets start at $42 for general admission. Watching the sunrise isn’t one of the ticket options, but if you’re subscribed to their newsletter, you can usually find out about extra perks. Remember to bring your sunglasses, and you’ll be ready to soak in the mesmerizing beauty of New York City from Summit One Vanderbilt, the shiny new jewel in the skyline.
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