Rockin' view of Manhattan

An aerial view of Manhattan. (Shutterstock)

An aerial view of Manhattan. (Shutterstock)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:18 PM ET

Millions enjoy watching the Emmy-winning comedy 30 Rock each week, but up here you can get up close and personal with the real 70-storey skyscraper and its crown jewel, Top Of The Rock.

As 30 Rock begins its fifth season and ratings keep rising, more tourists are going vertical to the 5,110 square metre observation deck with its unrivalled view of Manhattan. You get a history lesson on the way up, as the glass ceiling elevators screen a quick overview of the Art Deco site from the 1930s to present day.

While taking in the stunning 360-degree view of the city -- including an unhindered view of Central Park that's denied the rival Empire State Building some 15 blocks away -- you might spot an NBC celebrity nearby or en route to the private-function Weather Room on the 67th floor. But principal 30 Rock cast members Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan have yet to film any scenes on the deck, partly because it stays open sunrise to sunset for public access.

Many of the show's exterior shots in the 30 Rock lobby and around the 19 commercial buildings that make up Rockefeller Center (including Radio City Music Hall and the famous winter-time ice rink) will be very familiar to tourists. But the actual series is shot in a studio across the river in Queens.

The basic Top Of The Rock ticket includes an informative multi-screen short on the building's rich history, developed by John D. Rockefeller after the stock market crash of 1929 caused nervous partners to stick him with much of the almost 10-hectare property. Work began in 1928 and the 30 Rock deck was opened in 1933, with an eye to replicating the open spaces and features of an ocean liner.

More than 350,000 people walk through the entire Rockefeller Plaza complex, a national historical landmark, each day, above and below ground.

Since Top Of The Rock reopened in 2005 after a nine-year renovation, joint tickets can be purchased for the excellent NBC studios tour and the nearby Museum of Modern Art. Special combination tours also highlight the art around the building, including the Swarovski "Joie" crystal waterfall sculpture.

For more information, see topoftherocknyc.com.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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