In my first apartment in New York, I was lucky enough to have a glorious rooftop – an urban secret garden.  My apartment was on the top floor, and it was extremely rare for any of the other tenants in the building to hike up and visit the roof.  It was pretty spectacular.  I would go up to and stare at the city below me all year long.

The apartment sat on Central Park West at 107th street.  Some of the best rooftops in the city are in Harlem, or its bordering neighborhoods.  Harlem sits on the higher end of the park, so you’re often lucky enough to have a panoramic view of Central Park. I loved my rooftop. I found it magical.  It was quiet and empty, but below me sat the bustling city with the incredible skyline.

It’s pretty awesome to look at the New York skyline from the window of an airplane, or across the rivers from Brooklyn or New Jersey – but let me tell you – it is something else to be part of the New York skyline up on these rooftops. I like to imagine 3 levels of distinct energy in New York City: the underground, the ground level, and the rooftop. When you’re on the rooftop level you feel powerful and inconspicuous; hidden, safe and aware.

It was my rooftop that introduced me to New York’s water towers.  To me, they are such elegant and vintage looking symbols of the city.  There is a really cool flickr group site that shows a bunch of water tower shots if you’re interested.

For those that don’t have rooftop access (as I no longer do in my current apartment), try the rooftop of your office building – many of them allow access, or check out some of the places I recommend to grab a great view of the city….

Let me know if you have any other secret rooftop spots – I’d love to visit them!