A landmark re-opens

Another off-topic post today, but I couldn’t resist (it does involve my old profession though)

Top of the RockToday, for the first time in over 20 years, the “Top of the Rock” re-opens in New York City. The “Top of the Rock” is the observation deck on the top floor of 30 Rockefeller Center and since 1933 was one of only two places (the other was the Empire State) to see NYC from above until the World Trade Center was built.

Even though the observation deck wasn’t open when I lived in NYC, I was lucky enough to get a personally escorted tour of the roof deck when I worked at NBC in 1991. We were planning to do a shoot with Tom Brokaw up there and so the building manager took us up a crickety old elevator. From the moment the doors opened it was clear that this was an art deco masterpiece (albeit covered in two inches of dust and debris). The interior lobby and restaurant area was a showcase of 1930s art deco style with marble floors, period details and large windows that opened out onto a stunning roof deck. I wish I could remember more of the details to share them with you, but I remember feeling like I had stepped into the past and was able to get a special peek at something very special.

Top of the RockOnce out on the deck the view was magnificent. To the north you have a great view of Central Park which is only a few blocks away and relatively unobscructed. To the South you have a clear view of the Empire State and midtown unfolding before you. While not as clear of a view as it must have been in the 30s, you can still see both the Hudson and East Rivers as well. I’d argue that this is the best view of NY to be had (and of course the building manager thought so too).

That visit excited me so much that I ended up reading a bunch on 1930s deco architecture afterwards and the experience stuck with me for a long time. I can’t tell from the pictures, but I hope they kept a lot of what I saw. I’ll have to go back next time I’m in NYC and if you make it, be sure to tell me what you thought.

Photos Courtesy of Rockefeller Center Archives

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