One World Observatory vs Top of the Rock

What is the distinction between One World Observatory vs Top of the Rock? 

They are historical and cultural icons that stand out in the New York City skyline and provide sky-high views of the city’s landscape from their observation decks. 

Both are located in Manhattan; however, each building provides a unique experience when visiting their observation decks.

Going up an observation deck while on vacation in New York is challenging.

The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, and The Edge at Hudson Yards are all options for visitors.

If you’re looking for something historical, the Empire State Building, which is 90 years old, is your best bet. 

If you want to try something new, The Edge recently welcomed its first tourist.

However, if you want the most bang for your buck and a modern observation deck experience, you must choose between Top of the Rock and One World Observatory.

We compare the two in this article so you can make an informed decision.

General Admission 

Both observation decks include special exhibits and experiences as part of general admission. Here’s a breakdown of what each experience entails. 

Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock
Image: Rockefellercenter.com

Enjoy a mezzanine exhibit highlighting the history of Rockefeller Center.

It also includes photos and artifacts that explore John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s life, the building’s construction, and the creation of Top of the Rock.

You will see a short video presentation about NBC’s history and ties to Rockefeller Center.

A sky shuttle elevator ride that ascends 850 feet in less than a minute.

It transports visitors to the Top while providing an entertaining light show.

You will get access to three indoor and outdoor observation decks on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors.

One World Observatory

One World Observatory
Image: Oneworldobservatory.com

Access the first floor/building foundation exhibit, where you can walk through the Manhattan bedrock on which the building is built.

A virtual time-lapse of New York City’s ever-changing landscape is shown during the SkyPod Elevator ride.

SEE FOREVER THEATER, an audio-visual experience that explores the skyline of New York City.

You will get admission to the 100th-floor main observatory. 

It offers 360-degree views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and surrounding waters.

Observatory: Sky Portal, a transparent glass floor that offers views of the city streets 100 stories below.


We recommend visiting both observatories if you have the time and money.

Top of the Rock and One World Observatory are iconic structures built in response to tragedies and inspired Americans’ hope during difficult times.

Rockefeller Center’s construction, including the Top of the Rock, began during the 1929 Great Depression.

One World Trade Center includes the One World Observatory. It was America’s response to the devastating Twin Towers attack in 2011.

Both decks provide stunning views of the New York City skyline, but the experiences are very different.

To save money, purchase the New York City Explorer Pass, which includes admission to One World and Top of the Rock, among other attractions.

Also, purchase One World Observatory and Top of the Rock tickets separately.

We will compare One World Observatory and Top of the Rock on various criteria.

Location of the structures

Top of the Rock is an observatory located on the roof of Rockefeller Center, whereas One World is an observatory on the roof of One World Trade Center.

Both structures are in Manhattan, and One World Trade Center is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Rockefeller Center.

The One World Observatory is further north than Top of the Rock.

Because of the distance, the buildings provide a variety of views of the New York skyline.

Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock location is at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY, in the heart of Manhattan.

Rockefeller Center’s centerpiece is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, a skyscraper.

The building’s main entrance is on 50th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

One World Trade Center is located near Manhattan’s southernmost point, close to the Financial District and the water.

It is also known as One World, Freedom Tower, and One World Trade Center.

It is located at 285 Fulton Street, with the main entrance on West Street.

Observatories’ perspectives

The Top of the Rock and the One World Observatory offer visitors incredible views of New York City, but each provides a unique experience. 

The Top of the Rock offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.

On the other hand, the One World Observatory offers visitors the chance to see the city from the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. 

One World Observatory view

One World Observatory view
Photo by Chad Peltola on Unsplash

The one world observatory has three observation decks on the 100th, 101st, and 102nd floors, providing 360-degree panoramic city views. 

The vistas provide a singular viewpoint of the city and are magnificent.

Visitors can see many of the Financial districts because the World Trade Center is in the southern part of Manhattan near the water.

The observatory is closer to Central Park and provides better views of the green expanse.

The One World Observatory at night is a great experience showcasing New York City’s magic. 

In the One World Observatory night view, you can enjoy the lights of the buildings, bridges, and streets below, creating a sparkling tapestry that is nothing short of magical. 

The Hudson and East Rivers, the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Central Terminal, the Brooklyn Bridge, and parts of New Jersey are also visible from the One World Observatory.

You can also visit the One Dine restaurant on the 101st floor and experience an unforgettable dining experience with a breathtaking view of New York City’s skyline. 

The restaurant is accessible with the standard One World Observatory entry ticket

Top of the Rock view

Top of the Rock view
Photo by Tom Moser on Unsplash

The Top of the Rock provides views of Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Hudson River. 

On the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors are observation decks that provide views of the city from various perspectives. 

While similarly breathtaking, the views from Top of the Rock are seen from a different angle than those from One World Observatory.

Visitors can see one building from the other because they are so close.

The buildings are closer, and visitors can better view the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock.

The following are some of the landmarks visible from Top of the Rock:

You can view some landmarks from Top of the Rock, such as New York City’s Empire State Building, Chrysler Structure, One World Trade Center, Bank of America Tower, Flatiron Building and Central Park. 

The Top of the Rock at Night is an experience you should take advantage of. In addition to the incredible views, it offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere.

Entry ticket 

Visitors can access all exhibits and observation decks with their entry tickets.

The standard ticket to One World Observatory gives you access to all three floors – Levels 100, 101, and 102.

If you want the Explorer iPad experience in addition to the observatories, you must purchase the Priority ticket.

The Top of the Rock ticket grants access to the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors’ three indoor and outdoor observation decks.

Aside from the decks, there are six educational exhibits and the interactive Beam Walk, which allows visitors to ‘walk’ on a construction beam 69 floors above Manhattan.

Ticket prices 

The admission prices for Top of the Rock and One World Observatory are comparable.

An adult ticket (for visitors aged 13 to 61 years) costs $44 at the Top of the Rock and $70 at One World Observatory. 

Children under five are admitted free to One World, but children aged six to twelve must purchase tickets, which cost $63

All children must pay the same price of $37 for their tickets at the Top of the Rock.

Attractions with elevators

Attractions with elevators
Image: Archdaily.com

The Sky shuttle elevator at the Top of the Rock takes less than a minute to reach the observatory.

Images from the 1930s to the present are projected on the glass ceiling, so keep an eye up during the 260-meter (850-foot) ascent.

Tourists who visit One World Trade Center are also impressed by its high-speed Skypod elevator, which uses time-lapse technology to show the evolution of New York City over the last 500 years.

The five high-speed elevators reach the 100th floor in 47 seconds and travel at 37 km/h (23 mph).

They are the World’s fastest elevators.

Exploration tools to see New York City

Tourists who come to One World Observatory enjoy spending time on the Sky Portal with their families and children.

It is a circular glass disc 4.2 meters (14 feet) wide on which visitors can stand and see unobstructed views of the streets 100 floors below.

If money isn’t an issue, try One World’s Explorer iPad with a Priority ticket.

The Skyview Channel and the Restaurant Channel are available on the Explorer iPad.

The Skyview Channel takes you on a virtual tour of New York’s most iconic sites, while the Restaurant Channel informs you about the city’s best restaurants.

Top of the Rock doesn’t have such high-tech equipment.

However, they have binoculars that allow you to zoom in on any part of New York by tossing two quarters.

Observatories’ heights

Observatories’ heights
Image: F11photo from Getty Images (Canva)

Top of the Rock is the shorter of the two observatories, standing 244 meters (800 feet) above ground.

One World Observatory has three levels, 100, 101, and 102, with the highest standing at 386.5 meters. (1,268 feet).

But the views from Top of the Rock’s observation deck are spectacular.

One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the United States and the World’s sixth tallest.


Despite being nearly a century younger than Rockefeller Center, both were built in response to tragedy and symbolized American resilience, hope, and prosperity.

Top of the Rock: Completed in 1933, the building is one of New York’s most recognizable skyscrapers and embodies the architectural style of the time. 

With many classic Art Deco details. John D. Rockefeller commissioned the structure, and construction began and continued during the Great Depression.

30 Rockefeller Plaza is the official address of the Center’s tallest building, also known as ’30 Rock,’ and the setting for the television show 30 Rock. 

One World Trade Center: Opened in 2013, One World Trade Center is the second-tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth-tallest one in the World. 

The construction of the World Trade Centers was part of the WTC reconstruction and site materialization response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Central Park views

Central Park views
Image: Wikipedia.org

Many buildings obstruct the view of Central Park from One World Observatory.

However, Top of the Rock provides excellent views of the greenery because it is only nine blocks from Central Park.

Nighttime visits to Top of the Rock feel incomplete because Central Park has no lighting, making it difficult to appreciate its magnificence.

The highest structure in the Western Hemisphere, One World Trade Center, houses the One World Observatory.

Its three observation decks on the 100th, 101st, and 102nd floors provide 360-degree panoramic city views. 

The vistas provide a singular viewpoint of the city and are magnificent.

The Rockefeller Center, where Top of the Rock is situated, provides views of Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Hudson River. 

On the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors are observation decks that provide views of the city from various perspectives. 

While similarly breathtaking, the views from Top of the Rock are seen from a different angle than those from One World Observatory.


Image: Yelp.com

The One World Trade Center Observatory and Top of the Rock attract approximately 3 million visitors annually.

Most visitors come during the peak summer months.

One World Observatory is a newer attraction and tends to be busier and more crowded than Top of the Rock. 

The lines can be long, and it can be challenging to get a good view due to the number of people. 

However, you can purchase the One World Observatory tickets to minimize wait times.

Top of the Rock tends to be less crowded and offers a more relaxed atmosphere. So there is more space for people to wander around and enjoy the beautiful views. 


One World Observatory and Top of the Rock are well-known tourist destinations providing breathtaking views of the metropolitan skyline. 

One World Observatory is busier and more expensive than other observatories, but it gives a distinctive viewpoint of the city.

It also has many features and facilities.

Top of the Rock has fewer amenities and features but equally beautiful views and a more laid-back ambiance. 

You can choose between one of them according to your budget and preferences.

Featured Image: Rockefellercenter.com, Gagliardi Photography

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