Rising triumphantly out of the ground, skyscrapers are an important part of a city’s identity. Physically, they give people a point of reference, usually identifying the center of a city or its downtown area. They also give people a sense of pride, as skyscrapers represent their community to the world. They’re symbols of power, wealth, commerce, and even freedom or hope.
The best part of a skyscraper is getting to the top. Many of the world’s tallest buildings have incredible observation decks that let visitors view a city from an entirely new perspective. “It used to be that just having a space up high was enough,” William Baker, the structural engineer behind the Burj Khalifa, told Travel + Leisure. But observation decks are now more than just a window to the world, they’re full-on experiences with adrenaline producing ledges, bespoke cocktails, yoga, and Instagram-worthy photo ops.
To be clear, not every structure with an observation deck is a skyscraper. “The Council on Tall Buildings says it has to be 50% occupied to be on the building list instead of the tower list,” Baker said. Meaning that Toronto’s CN Tower, which has an observation deck, isn’t considered a skyscraper because there isn’t anything in the middle
To celebrate Skyscraper Day, which happens annually on September 3, we’ve gathered the most insane skyscraper observation decks for you to experience right now, from glass slides jutting out over Los Angeles to wine bars more than 1,000 feet up. And if you’ve already checked these off your list, don’t fret, new ones are currently in the works. According to Baker, “the future of skyscrapers is very robust.”