I remember when I first heard about the construction of One Vanderbilt, in the heart of Manhattan, next to Grand Central station. I got very interested because the new building would bring something new to the tourist scene in the city: a new observatory, named Summit. However, I can’t lie, my reaction was: another observatory? A fifth one? Really? Well, after visiting it during exclusive preview – as the place opens to the public on October 21st – I can say without hesitation: it’s not just another observatory – it’s THE observatory!
For those unfamiliar, New York City has 4 other observatories: the classic Empire State Building, the iconic Top of the Rock, the modern One World Observatory, and the brand new and cool Edge. Summit is the new addition to this list and, knowing the fierce competition, they did their homework creating an incredible space to enjoy the view of the city. More than just an observatory, visiting the Summit is a truly immersive experience.
Summit One Vanderbilt is a new, innovative destination that combines unparalleled vistas, curated multi-sensory experiences and cutting-edge technology to offer an unprecedented guest experience spanning art, nature, and design. It is produced by SL Green with the immersive art experience designed by Kenzo Digital and interior design by Snøhetta. Culinary offerings will be led by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events. Summit One Vanderbilt will offer much more than just spectacular views – it features multiple experiences and environments, and you’ll find out more about each one below.
Air – Transcendence
The first Summit environment is called Transcendence. Mixing transparency and reflectivity, this space creates the illusion of boundless space, faceting the world into an infinite universe without fixed form or limit. It’s a huge, mirrored room and every corner you look at provides a different view of the space. Mirrors on the walls, floor, and ceiling create an incredible sense of infinity – all with the added bonus of views to the south side of the city, including the iconic Empire State Building. I loved! In addition to all this, it has a very calm ambient sound, which provides a real immersion.
Due to the mirrored environment, the staff does not recommend the use of skirts or dresses.
This is another really cool area of Summit and it reminded me of the Chicago observatory, Skydeck. The visitors can enjoy stepping out into fully transparent glass skyboxes called Levitation that jut out of the building and suspend guests 1,063 feet above Madison Avenue. You will feel like you are walking with the city at your feet. Those who are afraid of heights may not face the challenge, but I thought it was amazing – and from them you can see not only the Empire State Building but also Central Park! Incredible!
Probably the most impressive thing about the Summit – and the one that totally sets it apart from other observatories in the city – is the Ascent! These are two all-glass enclosed elevators called Ascent which travel up the outside of the building to breathtaking views that soar at 1,210 feet above New York City. It’s like having a VIP view of lower Manhattan. The elevators are above the roof, so it’s less scary than the Levitation glass boxes, as when you look down you see the terrace of the building. Access to this elevator is not included with general admission – you will need to pay some extra dollars for that. Each elevator has a capacity for up to 15 people.
Terrace – outdoor area
Besides all these spaces and experiences, Summit features an outdoor bar, seating areas to enjoy the magnificent views, and the highest urban outdoor alpine meadow in the world.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, it’s amazing! Summit is more than an observatory, it provides a complete experience – there are many ways to contemplate and feel the city. Plus, there’s a detail you won’t find in any of the other observatories: the incredible view of the Chrysler Building! It is surreal to see this iconic building so close up. Another thing that I found amazing is the fact that it is a predominantly closed observatory – which makes it an incredible destination for those visiting the city during the winter. Not to mention that the glasses are great for photos – I didn’t have any problem with reflections.
New York never ceases to impress and Summit is part of it. I would say that for those coming in winter this is definitely the best option.
Now, where is Summit on my observatory ranking? It’s hard to say, as each observatory has its differential, but Summit got my heart and the first place on my list, because of the structure, size, views and the amount of incredible experiences it offers!
- Adult Ages 13+ – Starting at$39
- Youth Ages 6-12 – Starting at$33
- Children 5 and Under Visit Free
- Visiting During Sunset will be an Additional $10
- Tickets including the access to Ascent, the elevator, are $20 more expensive
- NYC residents have $5 off.
- Summit opens on October 21st.
- Buy your tickets – entrance is through Grand Central Terminal.
Summit still has some environments that we didn’t have access to but they will be ready for the opening! This post will be updated as I’ll be back there other times!
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!