New York Edge vs Empire State Building Observation Decks in NYC

Visiting the top of the Empire State Building is a movie bucket list dream, but did you know there’s a new observation deck in town called Edge? How does Edge compare in views, price, and experience? If you only have time to visit one, here’s how they compare and why I would still recommend you visit the Empire State Building instead of the Edge. 

Best views? Edge vs Empire State Building

The Edge is the new, shiny observation deck in the skyline, but even on the over-hyped day of the opening, March 11, 2020, tickets are not sold out as New Yorkers can see through this glass deck and why it doesn’t compare. Looking at photos and videos of the view it is clear before even going up that the view will include the less sexy, skinnier side of the Empire State Building, that is mostly covered by another building! The top reason for visiting Top of the Rock observatory over the Empire State Building would be its straight on and (thanks to the Edge I have to say) unobstructed view of the Empire State Building. The top reason for visiting the Empire State Building would be its historic and movie significance and just bragging rights to say you did it. Though I guess the Edge has its own unique bragging rights too… 

Best bragging rights? Edge vs Empire State Building

This is a personal choice since both decks have different angles of bragging rights. If you haven’t been to a glass observation deck like the Skydeck in Chicago and you’re an adventurer who enjoys the feeling of looking down at a big city, visit Edge. If you are more of a history buff who appreciates learning how this serious modern marvel was built so fast and so tall go to the Empire State Building. For perspective the Empire State Building was built in 410 days and the full area of Hudson Yards took 7 years of construction. Visit the Empire State Building if it’s the top of your bucket list and you would regret doing it. Visit the Empire State Building if you fell in love with it in one of the following movies and TV shows: Sleepless in Seattle, King Kong, An Affair to Remember, Gossip Girl, and Elf. 

Best history and secrets? Edge vs Empire State Building

Since Edge is brand new, the Empire State Building’s history clearly wins. If you’re interested in Empire State Building secrets, there are many secrets I’ve already shared here and above. 

Which observation deck is higher? 

The Edge boasts being the highest OUTDOOR sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, emphasis on outdoor sky deck. 100 stories up, the Edge sticks out 80 feet in the air but is technically only 1,100 feet high. The Empire State Building’s more expensive 102nd floor view is technically a higher perspective, but it is enclosed indoors. One thing to note is the Edge can be very windy at that height on an open deck, though there are also indoor viewing areas. This height difference is so similar and hard to see that I’ll call it a tie. 

Best location? Edge vs Empire State Building 

In real estate they say what really matters is location, location, location. The Edge only has one subway line, the new 7 train stop at Hudson Yards all the way on the East side many long avenues away from the Empire State Building. If you had to walk there from midtown it would be super annoying and take longer than you want to walk especially on a hot or cold day. To get to the Empire State Builidng is so easy, almost every single train goes directly there and it’s a short walk from many midtown attractions so it is easy to visit. 

Best hours? Edge vs Empire State Building

Both Edge and the Empire State Building open at 8am, but the Empire State Building stays open later till 2am. If you find yourself wanting to pack a layover or quick day trip and need something to do after midnight, you could visit the Empire State Building. Is there anything more romantic? I’ll wait. 

Can I bring a tripod any NYC observation deck?

Nope. It is technically prohibited to bring a tripod to Edge or the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock or One World Observatory. 

Best viewing experience? Edge vs Empire State Building

The old school Empire State Building views are not delivered only through shiny glass. One of my favorite NYC photographers, Jacob Santiago, reminded me of this on my first podcast episode that the Empire State Building has a metal fence which still allows photographers to stick their camera out and get the shots in any angle without worrying about the glare on the glass. This is one of the only observation decks like this, hence why it is popular with photographers! 

The Edge tickets are technically cheaper than the Empire State Building 

The only thing that doesn’t favor the Empire State Building when comparing it to Edge is the price by $6. The Empire State Building is more expensive, but I still think it’s worth it. You don’t have to go to the 102nd floor for $72, because most prefer the cheaper main deck at 86th anyways that only costs $42. When you compare the $42 to $36 at Edge, the additional $6 is worth it. 

Which observation deck is better to visit: Edge or Empire State Building? 

The Edge doesn’t have the best views without a zoom lens and doesn’t have the history. The Edge stands out because of a glass floor and their corner where just you can take a photo by yourself in the corner, but this doesn’t seem as worthy of the bragging rights for one photo. All the observation decks cost about $36-$38, with the Empire State Building costing the most at $42 for the 86th main open floor or $72 for the inside top floor deck. So $6 more for the Empire State Building’s main floor still feels worth it to me to choose the historic Empire State Building, with the best views, best location and no glass glare in your view. 

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