New York City has always been known for its magnificent and ever-changing skyline. It has numerous iconic buildings that stand out as beacons of power and grandeur, establishing NYC as the greatest city in the world.
Starting way back in the early 1900s, New York businessmen sought to gain fame by building bigger and taller structures than everyone else. Some of the earliest of these skyscrapers, as they were coined, were the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, and the Woolworth Building. These were the two first ‘tallest buildings in the world” as of 1909 and then 1913. Since then, buildings have stretched further to the heavens, and the epic skyline has continued to morph.
Related: 10 Tourist Traps to Avoid in NYC
These are the 10 tallest buildings in New York, and where to find them when you visit.
Whenever one is in New York, there is an easy way to orient yourself. Take a look all around you, and from wherever you are you should be able to catch a glimpse of the tallest building in New York City, which is also the tallest building in the United States and the sixth tallest in the world. That, of course, is the Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center.
Once you catch sight of it climbing 1776 feet into the air, near the southern tip of Manhattan, you should be able to figure out everything else. To visit the iconic building, just go south from pretty much anywhere in the city. You will find it downtown in the Financial District just southwest of Tribeca and just northwest of the New York Stock Exchange.
The soon to be completed Steinway Center is the second tallest building in New York. It stands at 1438 feet tall and 82 stories. It is also the thinnest building in the world by ratio. It will be the tallest residential building once it opens.
The architecturally unique tower sits at the south end of Central Park on what is known as "Billionaires Row", right in the middle of 57th Street. The views are, of course, all exceptional, but the unobstructed northern view of the entire park could be the most glorious of them all. Named after the Steinway & Sons piano company’s famous halls and one of the original Steinway buildings is part of the development.
The current tallest residential building in the world is 432 Park Avenue. Located near the southeast corner of Central Park on Park Avenue and 57th Street, the building is 96 stories and 1396 feet high. Finished in 2015, the building replaced the historic Drake Hotel that had been around since 1926.
Most of the residences were quickly sold, starting with an $18 million unit all the way through to the full floor penthouse, which fetched a whopping $95 million. That may seem like a big price... But everyone in NYC covets outdoor space so maybe the buyer just liked the fact that Central Park is basically its backyard.
Another recently opened entry to the list of New York’s tallest buildings is 30 Hudson Yards. This 1268 feet tall gem was opened in 2019. It will have the highest outdoor observation deck in the western hemisphere on its 101st floor.
The building is located just north of Chelsea on the west side of Midtown at 33rd street and 10th Avenue. Its most exciting feature might be the gorgeous mall on its first few floors, featuring numerous fantastic NYC restaurants and shops. The most popular one is celebrity chef Jose Andres’ Mercado Little Spain, which is sort of a Spanish version of Eataly, located on the ground floor.
The first building in the world to ever have over 100 floors, and the building that has held the title of world’s tallest for the longest time is one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, the Empire State Building.
Completed in 1931, it towered over every other building on the planet for 40 years until the original World Trade Center was completed. At 1250 feet high, it sits on the corner of 34th Street and 5th Avenue, basically the absolute middle of Manhattan. With its Art Deco styling and 102nd floor observation deck, it has been, and always will be, a can’t miss visit when in NYC.
The 1200 foot Bank of America Tower is the 6th tallest building in New York. It is also the first skyscraper to receive a Platinum LEEDS certification. It saves water with a system that captures and reuses rain, has numerous systems to save energy and reduce electrical usage, and utilizes a variety of recycled and recyclable materials in its construction.
The building stands across from Bryant Park on 6th Avenue and 42nd Street a block away from the main branch of the New York Public Library. It is also walking distance from Times Square, The Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center.
In addition to the iconic buildings, the World Trade Center also refers to the entire 14 acre complex that contains a number of other buildings, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and a park. In addition, the site is also home to the 7th tallest building in the city, Three World Trade, found at Greenwich Street and Cortland.
The 80-story building was opened in 2018. Despite being in the shadow of the Freedom Tower, 3 World Trade still climbs above much of the city, reaching to 1079 feet. Located across the street from the main part of the complex, it is also close to Battery Park City, Wall Street, and Tribeca.
Also known as 53W53, which is, of course, its address -53 West 53rd Street - the MoMA Expansion Tower is the 8th tallest building in NYC. The tower is yet another architecturally cutting-edge addition to our sky-scraping list, joining in 2018 when it reached its final height of 1050 feet.
It is named after the Museum of Modern Art, which sold the land it is built on to the developers. Its location, basically on top of one of the most renowned museums in the world, can not get much better than it is. Once residents of the building begin moving in they will even get special privileges at MoMA including free admission, film screenings, and other discounts.
One of the most iconic, and just plain cool looking, buildings in the world also became the tallest when it was completed in 1930. It was soon surpassed by the Empire State Building eleven months later, but remains one of the crown jewels of the New York City skyline.
The Art Deco gem’s most noticeable feature is its shining stainless steel crown that leads to its spire. It also has dozens of gorgeous ornaments on the upper floors of gargoyles, eagles, and even replicas of Chrysler radiator caps. Nine blocks north of the building that overtook it, the Chrysler Building held the title of the second tallest building in the world for as long as the Empire State Building reigned as the tallest. And although it has slipped into a tie for the 9th tallest in New York, it will always remain one of the favorite buildings of most New Yorkers.
The New York Times is the reason Times Square is known as Times Square. When the paper of record moved to 42nd Street in 1904, the area was named after it. The paper moved a block away in 1913. Then, almost a century later, it headed to its current location on 40th Street and 8th Avenue just outside of Times Square.
The new home is tied for the 9th tallest building in NYC with the Chrysler Building at 1046 feet. It is steps from the bustling crowds, the giant TVs, and the endless Broadway shows of Times Square. Its double-skin curtain wall façade is one of its distinguishing features. It can adjust the amount of sunlight that gets in the floor of the building to ceiling glass windows, reducing glare and saving energy.