2 Years at the Top: A Retrospective on SUMMIT One Vanderbilt's History and Evolution

Several years of dedicated, diligent, creative work came to life at the end of October 2021 when SUMMIT One Vanderbilt opened its doors to the public. In the two years since, SUMMIT has continued to attract crowds of visitors from around the world, offering a different way to witness the electricity, gridded streets, and iconic landmarks of New York City and the miles of horizon beyond.

The SUMMIT journey began as a dream to transcend the limitations of traditional Manhattan observation decks. Working with top architectural designers and artists like Snøhetta and Kenzo Digital, the SUMMIT team mapped out a visitor journey that wouldn’t just offer the chance to capture NYC’s panoramic views. The goal was to construct spaces for guests to interact with their surroundings — and each other — in fresh ways.

This required tremendous energy and contributions from countless voices and minds. In doing so, SUMMIT has become one of the top New York City attractions, and it’s also turned into an essential excursion for anyone interested in engaging with the city in a novel, memorable way.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt's History: The Core of Its Elevating Experience

After such an incredible couple of years, it’s worth reflecting on SUMMIT One Vanderbilt’s history and all the pieces that came together to make SUMMIT the multisensory art and “observation deck” experience that it is.

The first was innovation. Using mirrors, evocative sounds, and chic, state-of-the-art design, SUMMIT needed to transport visitors to a space that allowed them to completely step away from the hustle and bustle of One Vanderbilt’s surroundings. To achieve this, the short elevator ride to the 91st floor includes a light show. As the doors open, visitors are invited into a vast space that immediately moves them from the familiar to the surreal. This helps them step away from their connection with time and release their imagination.

The second element SUMMIT aimed to convey was a feeling of playfulness. The mirrored surfaces that reflect the sunlight, moonlight, skyline, and bright lights of New York City encourage people to experience joy, wonder, and fun. They’re able to see themselves in the reflections around them — and even in the clouds. Plus, as visitors move through the SUMMIT floors, they can interact with whimsical exhibits like Affinity.

Finally, the team wanted SUMMIT to be inclusive and welcoming. Because visitors from around the world belong just as much as lifelong New Yorkers, the movement throughout SUMMIT was designed to be intuitive and language-agnostic. Even without speaking, people exploring within SUMMIT’s walls — and outside glass sky boxes — retain a shared, significant moment. It doesn’t matter where guests have come from; they’re all part of SUMMIT’s fluid, colorful, and perspective-changing environment.

Notable SUMMIT Additions From Grand Opening to Now

SUMMIT’s original vision hasn’t altered. However, it’s begun to offer more amenities and features based on the evolution of the space. One is that the spire colors change for different occasions. The displays on the screen in Unity, the lights in Rise, and the balloons in Affinity change colors, too, to celebrate seasons and holidays. From Valentine’s Day and Pride to the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, SUMMIT reflects the calendar — not just the sun.

A Bright Future for a Top New Yok City Attraction

Individuals flock to SUMMIT as much for its sweeping NYC panoramic views as for its carefully curated artwork, whose reflective surfaces and time-dependent shifts in appearance create truly one-of-a-kind visits. It’s literally impossible to have the same experience twice — an extraordinary fact when you think about the thousands of guests who ascend to the top of One Vanderbilt every week.

Overall, the message from visitors to SUMMIT has been clear: It’s a winning ticket. If you haven’t stopped by, be sure to add it to your itinerary the next time you’re in midtown Manhattan. It’s a unique attraction on top of a modern marvel skyscraper that’s designed to change how you see NYC. The SUMMIT One Vanderbilt experience is within reach.

Buy your tickets here.