The World Trade Center’s 107th floor observation deck opened last week with some pretty stunning views of New York City. But does it really provide the best viewing experience among the clouds? The Skyscraper Museum took a global survey of the best observatories and ranked the best views from the top.
As part of the exhibition Ten Tops—which focuses on 26 towers of 100 floors or more—the Skyscraper Museum put together this list of 18 structures which are ranked not by their spire-tipped tops, but by the height of their public spaces designed for high-altitude gawking.
In addition to supertalls, the list includes telecommunication towers with skydecks (Canton Tower in Guangzhou, the Tokyo Skytree, Toronto’s CN Tower, and Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower), plus the 88-story Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and Jin Mao in Shanghai. Their observation decks are higher than some 100-story skyscrapers!
But height’s still not everything when it comes to great views. The observatory experience itself also must be examined, and not all skydecks are created equal. While many New Yorkers are fussing about the WTC’s high price of admission ($32 / £21), it’s interesting to note that you can get more height for your buck should you visit, say, the Willis Tower in Chicago. It’s both higher and cheaper. Telecom towers are almost always more affordable bets (and many are outdoors, which is a nice plus). And there’s one more factor to consider: The buildings in dark blue can only be accessed via a reservation at the bar or restaurant on that floor, meaning you’ll probably have to stare at the view over some rather pricey alcohol.
It’s also important to note that the ruling on the very best observatory experience in the world won’t be decided until later in 2015. The Shanghai Tower, which will open later this year, will be the tallest observatory experience in the world, and there’s no word yet on price of admission. Though the Burj Khalifa is taller overall, the Shanghai Tower’s observatory will be 20 feet higher. [The Skyscraper Museum]