Why the Top of the Rock is better than the Empire State Building’s Viewing Deck

I’m in New York City again this week, visiting my absolute favorite client. It’s great seeing everyone and we’re getting a lot of work done. I’ve also had some time to go out and get some photography done.

Even though I’ve been to New York City probably 40-50 times in the past few years, I’ve never visited either of the viewing decks in the city: atop the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock viewing deck atop Rockefeller Center. That changed last night.

I chose the Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building for one main reason: I wanted to have a grand vista of New York City that included the Empire State Building!

I went up right around sunset, and fortunately for me only 18 billion other people had the exact same idea.  It was a bit crowded around the railings but fortunately I’m fairly tall, so I was able to find some room, stick my camera up, and start shooting.

new york city top of the rock

Empire State Building at Dusk

I took a few hundred pictures last night and am still going through them, but definitely wanted to share this next one with you, a panorama looking north over Central Park with the new 432 Park and One57 buildings visible.

new york city top of the rock

Central Park Panorama

Special Bonus: I can’t sell these pictures, which is kind of a bummer.  What I can do (at least I think) is give them away, so here’s a link to a full resolution file of the first picture in this post!  It’s a massive file, so let it load and then you can right-click and Save to your computer.  From there you can print it or whatever else you’d like.  Only thing I ask is that you go do something nice for someone who isn’t expecting it and we’ll call it even.


  1. I agree, the view from Top of the Rock is excellent, probably the best on Manhattan.

    I went up to the viewing area in One World Trade Center and was very disappointed in the photographic possibilities. The area is completely enclosed in glass, and the windows are at angles with multiple reflections that my polarizing filter could not erase.

    • Ouch, that’s no good. My big regret is not bringing my telephoto lens with me to the Top of the Rock, the telephoto compression looking south with ESB and Freedom Tower would’ve been excellent.

  2. Beautiful photos… love the detail, lighting, etc. Did you need a lot of perspective correction? How many shots in your panorama? Assuming this is using Pano in Lightroom 6? How do you bracket them in the A7R2?

    • I did the pano in Lightroom but will probably go back and do it in Photoshop, there are a few lines I don’t like. It was 6 shots, handheld with the 55mm (only possible due to the in-body stabilization of the a7r2), no bracketing.

    • And thanks! 🙂

  3. Beautiful shot of Manhattan at dusk. Can we get permission to use your picture for our wall mural in Cincinnati? We have 2 kids who live in Manhattan and were looking for a Top Of The Rock shot. Yours is the best!!! Just let us what we need to do Andy!

    • Hi Richard, shoot me a note at andystravelblog at gmail dot com, thanks!


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