Why SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Is One of the Most Unique NYC Experiences

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is a masterful blend of art, technology, architecture, and thrills on the 91st floor of One Vanderbilt, the fourth-tallest building in New York City and the tallest skyscraper in midtown Manhattan.


The views from this height and location in the heart of Manhattan are spectacular on their own, but SUMMIT is much more than just vistas. With multiple floors of interactive, mind-bending immersive art, guests will feel as if they’ve entered a completely different dimension. This easily makes SUMMIT one of the most unique NYC experiences out there — for both tourists and locals alike.

How SUMMIT Is Different From Other Observation Decks in New York City

Conceived as a multifaceted, interactive experience over many floors, SUMMIT stands out from all other observation decks in NYC. Here are just a few ways SUMMIT has transcended the “observation deck” label to become something completely unique:

1. The ability to stimulate all of your senses

“Air,” the boundless, structureless art installation designed by Kenzo Digital, makes up the bulk of the SUMMIT experience.


The journey starts with a short movie that breaks down the history and construction of One Vanderbilt. You are then invited to make use of state-of-the-art 3D face-scanning technology that allows you to become part of the installation. (This will come up again later!) The elevator, Rise, will shoot you up to the 91st floor in less than 43 seconds. Here, your relationship with physics and time begins to take on a different meaning. Everything you just experienced has prepared your senses for the journey you are about to take.


The elevator door opens up to the Hall of Light, a corridor filled with color. The corridor leads to Transcendence 1, a mirror-covered chapter of “Air,” with panoramic views of the greatest city in the world. The captivating room photographs beautifully and may be a fun spot for a family photo or the ultimate spot for a selfie.


After experiencing Transcendence, you have the opportunity to slow down while indulging yourself in “Clouds,” an art installation of curving, reflective sculptures by world-renowned artist Yayoi Kusama, whose sculptures, paintings, and other projects are among the most influential of the past century. This room, Reflect, brings you closer to the structure of the building itself with a scale model of One Vanderbilt and detailed information about the building’s construction.


After your first glimpse of Central Park to the north, you are led directly to the next room, Affinity, which is filled with floating reflective orbs. Affectionately called the “ballroom” by guests, this chapter invites you to interact with the exhibit in yet another way. When you step into this space and become surrounded by balloons, it’s impossible not to revert to your sense of wonder and lose yourself in the moment. Once again, you become part of the exhibit before you even realize it.


Just in time to go back to the south side of NYC, you make your way to Transcendence 2. This room is one level above Transcendence 1, on the 92nd floor, and it provides a mesmerizing perspective of the skyline-surrounded space that both rooms share. Keep an eye on the Chrysler Building when you step onto the escalators — guests love watching its iconic spire come in and out of view as they’re brought to the next exhibit. Here is where you take it all in and witness the emotions in those who are just entering “Air” below you.


Moving to the west side of the building, thrill-seekers can test their mettle by standing in Levitation, glass-bottomed ledges that project out from the main room and hover 1,100 feet above Madison Avenue.


Remember the face scan at the entrance? Unity is where this comes into play, and you are absorbed in the art in yet another way. In this room, you can see your likenesses appear in clouds that fill a massive, wall-spanning screen that bridges the physical and digital reality of New York City — with you in it. Legend says that on overcast days, it almost looks like a perfect reflection of the world outside (if you can ignore the faces looking back at you).


From there, you visit Après, an eating and drinking experience with a terrace that wraps around the building, and a bar, where you can pause for a moment to catch your breath above the city that never sleeps. You then complete your experience with Ascent, the highest rack-and-pinion elevator system in the world. At 90 square feet, these are also the largest glass-bottomed elevators in the world. Ascent will take you on a unique journey up to the 105th floor, the highest elevation point in One Vanderbilt.


Guided through the different levels that interact with one another to create a cohesive experience, all the way from the ground floor up into the clouds, your perspective of the world around you is forever changed.


Looking for a hidden gem? Check out the bathrooms — even these mundane spaces have breathtaking views of the urban landscape. SUMMIT easily has some of the coolest bathrooms in New York City.

2. The expansive view and the way the experience enhances it

An observation deck is a space built for people to see or experience something. Designed with perspective in mind, it offers a viewer a new look at a landscape. SUMMIT embodies this definition — and transcends it.


At SUMMIT, the view itself is a unique NYC experience. On a clear day, guests can see further than 80 miles in every direction, giving spectators a lookout of the entire city and beyond. The famous skyscrapers of NYC make an appearance at every turn. Want to see the Empire State Building? The Chrysler Building? The Flatiron Building? They’re all visible from here, and the views are all one of a kind and spectacular. Seasonally, guests have a fantastic view of the Fourth-of-July fireworks over the East River and the Parade of Ships on the Hudson River.


Still, what makes these views extraordinary is the way they interact with the art installations. In Transcendence 1 and Transcendence 2, the city is reflected in the mirrors, where they form a surreal, infinitely expanding version of NYC. The Unity experience even takes advantage of poor-visibility days by matching the visuals with the cloud cover.

3. No two experiences are alike

Guests who want an especially unique viewing experience should make an after-hours visit. This is when SUMMIT initiates Beacon Mode and shines waves of color and light that can be seen from all over the city. It’s an incredible spectacle — and perfect for a date night.

The reflective surfaces of the exhibits capture and bend NYC’s starlike brilliance into a celestial vortex of color and light. When you walk through Transcendence 1 and 2, you’ll feel like you’re taking a stroll through galactic nebulae. It’s an incredible experience that you can’t find anywhere else.

What’s more, with the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks looking their most dramatic, SUMMIT’s singular views become even more stunning and photogenic than they already are. Lucky visitors will sometimes even have the chance to catch the fireworks over Central Park.

If you want to get the full SUMMIT experience, you have to complement your daytime visit with an unforgettable evening in the clouds.

4. The community

SUMMIT is by New Yorkers, for New Yorkers. One percent of gross ticket sales go to the SUMMIT Foundation, a charity that works with New York-based organizations like Food1st, a nonprofit initiative that helps alleviate food shortages impacting NYC families.


Because One Vanderbilt values the well-being of the planet and the environmental health of the local community, it has also taken steps to become one of the most sustainable buildings in the city. By generating nearly half of its electricity on-site, it takes less from the NYC power grid and eliminates heat waste. Its rainwater collection and treatment system is even capable of reducing water usage by 1 million gallons every year.


SUMMIT has a community of fans from around the world. Guests love taking pictures throughout the “Air” experience and turning them into art shared all around the globe. SUMMIT was recognized as one of the most Instagrammable places by ELLE Magazine, and Tiqets voted it the best landmark in the U.S. Trip Advisor included it in its list of “Top 25 Things to Do in NYC.”


SUMMIT provides more than a magnificent view. It invites guests to become a part of a world-class, one-of-a-kind art installation, creating unforgettable experiences that warrant the placement of SUMMIT among New York City’s unmissable attractions.