Manhattan Reaches a New Plateau

One Vanderbilt is not just another tall building in Midtown

| 14 Oct 2021 | 02:13

When developer SL Green opened the 77-story One Vanderbilt skyscraper last year, they saved the best for last. The 1401-foot-tall building has a public observatory, opening October 21. The Summit, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, will have four-level viewing of Manhattan and metropolitan New York. Even on a cloudy preview day, the sights revealed the city’s architecturally diverse treasures.

The building, now NYC’s fourth tallest, after One World Trade Center, Central Park Tower and 111 West 57th Street, offers Midtown’s tallest observatory. Oslo-based design firm Snøhetta took the 65,000 square foot, four-level entertainment space from conception to reality with skilled design and multisensory use of sound, lighting and production design. Entry to the venue is provided from Grand Central Terminal in a newly-opened subterranean concourse. A reception area provides a chance to buy last-minute admission tickets, although online ticketing is encouraged.

Why is this structure different from all other structures?

When you alight from the 45-second ride on the entrance elevators, your first destination is an infinity room utilizing a 40-foot ceiling. Named Air, it takes the observation deck, with mirrors on the ceiling, floor and sides, to provide a grand 200 foot by 60 foot entrance hall. The effect is heightened by floor to ceiling windows, with no visible structural elements to block your view.

If you’ve ever had the desire to stand tall over Madison Avenue, the Levitation hall, one level up by escalator, will provide instant gratification. Glass skyboxes jutting from the side of the building allow visitors to step out from the building; you will then be standing on transparent glass, 1,000 feet above Madison Avenue. This perch is suitable for two people to share the sensation.

As you get off the escalator to the top level (or is it?), a difficult set of decisions await.

Will it be the Summit Terrace, the world’s highest urban alpine meadow? The Terrace wraps around the south and west sides of One Vanderbilt, a viewing spot where the horizon can be 80 miles.

Do you want to take it higher? The Ascent, with a $20 surcharge, is a wide all-glass elevator with a transparent glass floor, and a further 120 feet from the terrace. It will take you from the terrace level to 1,200 feet, spending three minutes or so at the highest viewing point in Midtown, with spectacular views.

Danny Meyer’s food outlet Apres, an indoor 93rd floor lounge and café, offers light snacks and cocktails.

Know before you go

For the time being, One Vanderbilt Summit will be open Thursday - Sunday, with the following times: Thursday, 3 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, – 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ticket prices start at $39 for adults, with a $10 surcharge for the two hours around sunset; online special pricing for New York City residents is available on their website.

The timed admissions are every half hour. The location is at 45 East 42nd St, with the primary pedestrian entrance located at the far west side of of Grand Central Terminal main concourse. If you are traveling by taxi or shared ride, The 42nd Street entrance goes directly to the Summit entrance, one flight of stairs down.

Visiting here? There are some special requirements.

Be sure to bring sunglasses; with reflective materials used throughout the spaces, it is a bright environment during daylight hours. Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. Stiletto heels, steel toe boots, sports cleats, and other footwear that can damage flooring are not permitted. It is essential to wear pants, shorts, or tights when possible to avoid unwanted exposure on glass and mirrored floors. As with all indoor NYC activities, acceptable vaccination proof and a face mask are mandatory.

Have COVID anxieties? Summit One Vanderbilt has cutting-edge UV-c light sanitization, MERV 16 air filtration, and 9-stage volatile organic compound (VOC) HEPA Filters to ensure the highest air quality and cleanest surfaces.

For more information and to purchase tickets to experience SUMMIT One Vanderbilt beginning Thursday, October 21, visit