June 27, 2015 by jacklovelace
One advantage in having a son and his family in New York City is how often we get to visit.
Combine that with move junkets over the years and just being old, you do get opinions.
This one is about which top of New York building is number one.
The Empire State building is historic and offers a nice view downtown and uptown. Top of The Rock is a modern space with even better views to the north.
But if you could only do one, I would recommend the observatory at Freedom Tower.
We went a few days after it opened this summer. The cost is a whopping $32, with a couple buck break in you old.
They sell advance ticket time slots and I can’t recommend strongly enough that you go that route instead of standing in line to buy tickets.
We weren’t sure exactly what time we would arrive so we didn’t buy our time slot until we got there. They offer one every 15 minutes. While we walked right in, people were lined up for long periods in the sun waiting to just buy the tickets we bought with a few keystrokes at the same price.
You see some visuals about the building of the freedom tower and you can touch original footings from the World Trade Center. Then it is on the elevator for an incredibly fast and visually interesting trip up.
I won’t give you details to spoil the effect but when you come off the elevator there is another short visual before you are cut loose on the tower. It is a dramatic moment.
As for the view, it is impressive. The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governors Island, lower Brooklyn, Verrazano Bridge, all look close with the ocean in the distance.
Move and you have New Jersey and lower Manhattan at your feet. Then midtown, then Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. And our day was partly cloudy. Imagine a totally clear day. (Another reason not to buy tickets to far in advance, a bad overcast day would make it a waste. I just hope they don’t start selling out time slots in advance)
It is a comfortable walk around the observation deck even with the crowds. We found a bar and seats and enjoyed a drink and a cheese plate at New York prices (but not crazy prices) while we took in the scene.
One nutty thing is that to enjoy the fancy restaurant or bar and cafe up top, you have to pay the $33 to get there. That is goofy and will have to change.
After our food and drink, we took another swing around the top to let the views sink in.
I think it earned the price. They are pushing it, but the Freedom Tower Observatory is special.
A couple of side notes:
I worried that it would be a bit of a downer, taking the place of the World Trade Center.
I visited the observation deck on top the World Trade Center several times. It’s open air experience was very different. And I was sickened like everyone else on 9/11.
It turned out the Freedom Tower has more of a sense of awe and looking forward than one of sadness and looking back. Not that we forget.
Finally, while I rate Freedom Tower tops, the bar at the Top of the Rock is special, with great views. It is worth the $25 drink to take it all in.