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9 Thoughts From a Plebeian Atop a 1,397-Foot-Tall Tower

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It must be pretty nice to work for the Wall Street Journal. Columnist Ralph Gardner Jr asked to visit the top of the tallest residential building in New York City (and the Western hemisphere) starting last summer, and by November, developer Harry Mackowe had issued a personal invite. (Curbed is still waiting for ours. It's in the mail, right?) Even after Gardner sort of insulted its height, calling it "out of all proportion." Yes, the Times legally reached the pinnacle first and took some vertiginous video. We've seen a panoramic view from the tower's construction crane, and a daredevil Instagrammer scuttled to the summit for some nighttime shots... and promptly got arrested. But Gardner's take from the top is refreshing, if only because he treats it as the terrifying, exhilarating, "Oh my gawd, this is sooooo high up" experience that it is. In short, Gardner embraces the non-billionaire's view of a building that'll be a bastion of them. Here now, his nine best observations.

1) According to a senior project manager, "It's roughly a 20 degree differential from the ground floor to the top ... A couple of days, we went through a cloud bank and the hoist went above the clouds."

2) In the end, Macklowe didn't show. "I was slightly disappointed because I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask him about 432 Park Ave.'s immodest size: 'What were you thinking?' and 'When you look at the building do you ever fear you went too far?'"

3) "I wasn't entirely heartbroken I didn't get to meet the developer because my main priority was absorbing the view. An observation deck open to the public won't be among the condo's amenities. And since I don't travel in social circles that include a lot of oligarchs, I doubted I'd be invited to any penthouse soirees."

4) "I particularly enjoyed the view from above the 'Chippendale' top on the Sony Tower, a block away on Madison Avenue."

5) "Eventually, even One57, another new luxury condo overlooking Central Park in the tug of war for the affections of the superrich, seemed to shrink to inconsequence in the distance."

6) "I was told we'd be able to detect the curvature of the Earth once we reached the summit of 432 Park Ave. Regrettably, I neglected to verify that claim because I was worried about dying."

7) The 96th floor—one short of the top floor and being sold as a single apartment—was an open space with nothing to prevent me from taking an unscheduled flying lesson except for a swath of orange plastic netting.

8) Gardner recalls "looking down upon the Empire State Building" and how "Central Park resembled a well-maintained rug."

9) In the end, Gardner is swayed: "Indeed, there appeared no feature on the skyline or beyond—heading out to sea, across to New Jersey or up the Hudson River and whether man-made or natural—that rivaled our vantage point."

Those billionaires will have it pretty good, eh?
· 432 Park Ave. Has a View Only Money Can Buy [WSJ]
· 432 Park Is Officially the Tallest Residential Building In NYC [Curbed]
· All 432 Park Avenue coverage [Curbed]

432 Park Avenue

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