One of New York City’s many tourist magnets is Rockefeller Plaza, which includes a Top of the Rock observation deck for viewing all of Manhattan. Now a real estate investment company wants to upgrade the deck with a new ride that simulates the historic 1932 Lunch Atop a Skyscraper photo—minus the risk of falling.
Rockefeller Plaza is an iconic Art Deco building home to NBC Studios, and is probably best known for its annual holiday tradition of murdering a giant tree and putting its decorated corpse on display. While the skyscraper was under construction, 11 ironworkers crawled out onto a precarious-looking beam to enjoy their lunch break 69 floors above the busy streets of New York. Their photo was captured, and while we now know the memorable image was staged, snapped as a promotional tool for the building, it has become a symbol of the working man and a memorable piece of Americana. The photo featured real construction workers, though some historians believe there was a structure below them, just out of frame, for safety.
As part of the current Top of the Rock experience, which includes an outline observation deck, visitors can pose for pictures while standing or sitting on a recreation of that beam, although that part is safely indoors. But Tishman Speyer Properties, a real estate firm that’s been redeveloping the property for several decades now, wants to build a new rooftop ride on 30 Rock’s 69th floor observation deck called the “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper Experience” that will give tourists a chance to snap more believable selfies of themselves perched high above the city on a metal girder. Details of the upgrades were shared in a lengthy presentation that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has made available through its website.
Calling it a ride is a generous description: Tourists will simply sit on top of a girder that rises into the air and rotates 180 degrees to provide visitors with a panoramic view of the city on either side of Rockefeller Plaza. Illustrations of the proposed ride show that it’s set far enough back from the edge of the building to make it safe, but you can also assume that riders will be securely strapped in given how high the girder rises, and how notoriously clumsy social media users can be when trying to snap the perfect selfie.
There’s no specific timing on when the upgrades will be made. The proposals need to be approved by the city first, but as places like New York struggle to rekindle tourism as the pandemic continues, there probably won’t be too many roadblocks preventing these new attractions from moving forward.