Always looking for another way to look at the New York City that I love so dearly, I was eagerly anticipating the opening of The Edge observatory in Hudson Yards last year. It opened on March 12, 2020 – and was shut down almost immediately by the pandemic. The Edge reopened in the fall with capacity restrictions, a mask requirement, and physical distancing, and I was able to experience it early in 2021. I had decided that it would be optimal to go for sunset, and those tickets sell out quickest (and have a surcharge). Given that going in inclement weather would reduce the view, I was looking for a time to buy tickets a day or so in advance when the weather was more predictable, and was able to once the holiday season increase in interest had passed.
The entrance is just to the left of the shops at Hudson Yards, if you are standing with the Vessel behind you. Everything is clearly marked, and you will be unable to enter and have your ticket scanned until about ten minutes before the entry time listed on your ticket. After being scanned in, you walk through a high-tech display about the development of Hudson Yards (which is still only partially complete at this point), before entering an elevator to go up. A virtual display of the history of the area and the views plays as you ascend.
The time I had been able to get was 4:10, on a day when sunset would be just after 4:41. With the various procedures required to get up there, it was getting pretty close to sunset. We discovered that you needed to wait on line up in the inside area to get to the outside observatory, due to covid capacity limitations. Would we get out there in time?
Luckily, things were run very smoothly, including limitations on time people could spend in the various corners outside, so we were able to get out before the sun had fully set. The Edge is the highest outdoor observatory in the Western Hemisphere, and with its unique design, you feel it. You are on a huge triangle protruding 80 feet out from the side of 20 Hudson Yards, 100 floors (or 1,131 feet) up. There are only glass walls surrounding you, and open air above.
And the views! Just lovely, and a different perspective from midtown observatories like Top of the Rock or the Empire State building, or One World Trade downtown.
One of the most exciting things to do – if you can take it – is to go on top of the clear glass floor area that they have near the point of the triangle jutting off into space. It’s a long way down, and that distance is quite tangible! This is one of the places where they have staff monitoring your time, and you have one minute alone on the glass floor before you need to give someone else a turn. I found that the staff at The Edge were great at maintaining physical distance between visitors and monitoring time limits.
There are stairs with seating that are reserved for those who have ordered champagne or snacks from the bar. As sunset passed and the lights of the city began to sparkle, the experience transformed again from end of day to NYC night magic. Having been to several observatories in the city, I find this newcomer to the scene to be the “cool kid” of the bunch, and well worth your time. It’s not cheap, but there is a (small) discount if you are a NYC resident. If doing the sunset experience, try to get the earliest time you can within the sunset window, as it turns out they don’t limit your time while up there (just at a few of the photo opportunities) and I felt a little rushed getting out there for sunset with the timed ticket I had. While outside, we heard a cheer and caught the end of a successful marriage proposal . . . New York City, a little thrill, and romance – what more can you ask of an adventure these days?
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