Mirrored halls and a breathtaking view: Tickets to NYC’s thrilling new observation deck now on sale

Sep 16, 2021

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

New York City has no shortage of observation decks, but an entirely new interpretation of the experience is rising in Midtown Manhattan — and TPG has been invited for a couple of early looks.

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(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

From the top of a gleaming new skyscraper above Grand Central Terminal, near the geographic center of New York City, I saw the skyline in an entirely new way.

To my right, a rare aerial view of Bryant Park. To my left, the scalloped dome of the art deco Chrysler Building. To the south, the World Trade Center rising from the tip of Manhattan. To the north, Central Park and, beyond that, the undulating hills of the Hudson Valley. It felt like I was at the center of the universe.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

And all around me, there were reminders of how very high up I was standing. Summit One Vanderbilt is an immersive, four-story and 65,000-square-foot space near the top of a 1,401-foot-tall skyscraper featuring innovative new ways to view the city. Even if you’ve been to all of New York City’s observation decks (I have), you haven’t seen one quite like this.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Summit One Vanderbilt isn’t the highest observation deck in New York City – that distinction is still held by One World Trade Center. It isn’t the highest outdoor observation deck, either. You’ll have to head to Edge at Hudson Yards for that experience.

But, it does promise entirely new kinds of thrills for visitors (and locals) who want to ascend to New York City’s greatest heights.

Here, you can step out into transparent “sky boxes” called Levitation that suspend you over one of the city’s main thoroughfares. It’s the only place in Manhattan where you can look directly down at Madison Avenue, says Jason Hackett, senior vice president, director of sales and marketing at Summit One Vanderbilt.

(Photo courtesy of Summit One Vanderbilt/SL Green Realty Corp)

During a tour in May, Hackett also pointed out the property’s truly AvGeek-worthy appeal: On a clear day or night, you might be able to see the area’s major airports from the outdoor, glass-walled observation deck, which will also be home to an outdoor bar (expect a signature cocktail to accompany the view).

It’s also not uncommon to see a helicopter zip by at eye level, I’m told.

Last week, I returned to Summit One Vanderbilt for an early look at Kenzo Digital’s “immersive art installation” called Air. This sprawling, multistory and multisensory experience “[invites] visitors of any age to revel in collective wonder,” Kenzo Digital, CEO and artist at Kenzo Digital Immersive, said in a statement.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

The first “chapter” of Air, called Transcendence, is a mirrored, staggering space that reflects, bends and recontextualizes the New York City skyline and forces visitors to reorient themselves over and over again.

You can look down at the floor and wave at a friend standing across from you, for example, or see a bridge or a skyscraper to your left reflected on your right. You can watch the clouds pushing across the sky beneath the Empire State Building, or smile at a friend on the street corner just by looking up.

I felt as though I had walked into a gleaming, brilliant tesseract (you know, like that final mind-bending scene of “Interstellar”). With its panels of glass, Transcendence evokes the iconic grid of Manhattan and recasts it as a brilliant portrait of light and depth. Just be sure to pack your sunglasses if you’re visiting during the day.

Summit One Vanderbilt (Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Summit One Vanderbilt will also welcome thrill-seekers to Ascent, an all-glass elevator that whisks visitors along the side of the skyscraper to an even higher 1,210-foot vantage point during a five-minute ride.

(Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

In addition to the stunning new vantage point of some of New York City’s most iconic landmarks, Summit One Vanderbilt will also have a food and beverage program led by hospitality icon and restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events.

(Photo courtesy of Summit One Vanderbilt/SL Green Realty Corp)

Slated for a grand opening on Oct. 21, Hackett says Summit One Vanderbilt is arriving during an “amazing moment” for New York. After all, Broadway has just reopened, people are returning to the city and the energy, we can all agree, is palpable. It’s “a clarion call for the city,” Hackett said in May.

“We have created a destination … with the best, amplified views in all of New York City,” said Marc Holliday, chairman and CEO of SL Green Realty Corp (the building’s developer) in a statement from May. “Summit One Vanderbilt … is a special, thrilling place that New Yorkers and travelers from across the country and the world will want to visit time and time again.”

(Photo courtesy of Summit One Vanderbilt/SL Green Realty Corp)

Tickets to Summit One Vanderbilt are now on sale starting at $39 for adults — comparable to other observation decks around the city, most of which start between $36 and $42 for adults. Children 5 and under can visit for free, and visitors between the ages of 6 and 12 get discounted tickets. Residents of New York City also receive preferred pricing.

For access to Ascent, adult tickets start at $59. Sunset and evening tickets start at $49 for both youth and adults.

Initially, the attraction will only be open Thursday through Sunday, and visitors are urged to wear comfortable shoes (sorry, no stilettos in these photos) and pants “to avoid unwanted exposure.”

Feature photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy.

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