We got a sneak peek at the highest outdoor observation deck in North America

Mar 9, 2020

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Move over, Empire State Building. There’s a new outdoor observation deck in town — and you’ll definitely want to look down.

On Wednesday, March 11, Edge — a cantilevered observation deck clinging to the 100th story of a gleaming new skyscraper in New York City — will officially open to the public. During a media preview on Monday morning, TPG got a sneak peek of the striking feature, which is said to be the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere.

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(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

From a height of more than 1,130 feet, the outdoor sky deck extends nearly 80 feet beyond the side of the building and offers sweeping views of Manhattan, the Hudson River and beyond into New Jersey and the surrounding boroughs. On a drizzly day, the view is no doubt in the clouds. 

To put things in perspective, the observation deck at One World Trade Center is higher, at 1,368 feet, but it’s inside — as is the highest floor in the Empire State Building (1,250 feet). That skyscraper’s 86th-floor outdoor observation deck, at 1,050 feet, falls about 80 feet short of Edge. And from Edge, you can enjoy a pretty good view of both landmarks.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

For travelers familiar with the observation deck experiences at One World Trade and the Empire State Building, a visit to Edge may feel familiar.

You’ll likely enter through 20 Hudson Yards, one of the main entrances to the retail, dining and office complex across from the Vessel, and head up to the fourth floor. This is where we gathered on Monday morning, before beginning the Edge experience.

On your way to Edge, you’ll pass through a series of multimedia rooms after security designed to distract from the sense of being stuck in a line.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

There’s a photo opportunity (think: step-and-repeat, without the red carpet) and informative displays that describe the neighborhood’s clean energy initiatives and groundbreaking engineering. After all, the entire neighborhood is elevated on a platform above working railyards.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

But what you’re really here for is the outdoor observation deck. An elevator whisks you to the 100th floor in under a minute, while a video shows how Hudson Yards materialized from a series of blueprints and sketches into a functioning neighborhood.

An expansive interior space, crafted by Rockwell Group, features neutral marbles and metals that appear to change color as the lighting evolves throughout the day. A dramatic staircase with steps that seem to float takes you to the 101st-floor restaurant, Peak (scheduled to open on Thursday, March 12).

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Or, you can stay on the 100th floor, and head out onto Edge.

You’ll immediately be drawn to the 225-square-foot triangular glass cutout in the floor (at least one person decided to lie down in the middle of the glass, while most of us hovered cautiously around the perimeter).

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Edge features massive nine-foot glass panels pitched outward at a slight angle, which adds to the, well, edgeless experience of the platform. Out here, there are no metal supports to distort your view of the city. In fact, each of the 79 glass panels are separated by an open border designed to give you a totally uninterrupted view — no glass, no glare, just sky — and, theoretically, a perfect photo with your smartphone camera.

In practice, that didn’t really work for me; maybe my iPhone photography technique needs some work. But to the naked eye, I cam confirm that, without any reflection or barrier, the view is spectacular.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

At the easternmost point, visitors can lean back against the skyline. It’s designed so just one person can stand in the corner at a time, making it perfect for photos. Plus, is there anywhere else in New York City you can take a photo outside without strangers in the background? The answer, of course, is no.

During our morning at Edge, the wind was really gusting — you can feel how high up you are because there’s not much else to block the rush of air. But, as you ascend the grandstand-style staircase (presumably the highest in the hemisphere, if not the Earth), the building itself blocks the wind, and you can enjoy an almost quiet, serene moment. Well, except for the people undoubtedly sharing the space and taking selfies all around you.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for this kind of attraction. Whenever I visit a city for the first time, I immediately head to the highest viewpoint possible. It’s a great way to get a lay of the land — and an even better way to get great aerial photographs of a city.

But Edge really does wow you when you pass through the revolving glass doors. Maybe it’s because you’ve been hit in the face by a blast of wind. Or, it could be the almost glare- and reflection-free view, which is as close to seamless as I’ve ever seen. Plus, with its glass floor and angled walls, Edge borders on a low-key thrill amusement.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Adult general admission starts at $36 (nearly $40 with tax) if you book a date and time for your visit online. Children ages 6 to 12 can get tickets from $31, while senior tickets start at $34. Children under 5 will be admitted for free, and New York residents also get a slight discount ($34). 

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Flex Passes must still be reserved for a specific date, but allow visitors to the Edge at any time. Every adult, child and senior will need to budget an additional $20 per person for the flexibility.

Though the prices are as sky-high as the attraction, they’re on par with similar New York City experiences. One World Observatory sells general admission tickets from $35, and tickets to the 86th-floor observatory of the Empire State Building start at $38 for adults. (But you’ll pay $58 if you want to head to the newly opened 102nd floor.)

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Edge does throw in a free digital souvenir photo — remember, the one you theoretically took while standing in line?

So, be sure to use a card that rewards you for entertainment and everyday spending. Chase, for example, codes Empire State Building tickets as entertainment, making the Chase Freedom Unlimited a smart choice — and safe bet — for Edge tickets.

Related: The best credit cards for entertainment spending

Edge is the latest attraction to open in New York City’s flashy new Hudson Yards neighborhood. Though it was certainly built with (affluent) New York residents and businesses in mind, developers are making a compelling appeal to tourists, too.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

After all, travelers can see live performances at The Shed, a performing arts center that opened last April; book a room at the flagship Equinox Hotel; go shopping (at the first-ever Neiman Marcus in the city, for example); climb the copper-clad Vessel, an interactive public sculpture comprising 154 interlocking staircases; and dine at a collection of upscale restaurants, including Peak — a modern American restaurant on the 101st floor helmed by chef Chris Cryer — when it opens later this week.

Hudson Yards is also connected to the High Line, which is one of the best-loved attractions in the city.

Additional reporting by Laura Itzkowitz.

Feature image courtesy of Related-Oxford.

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