“The rooftop observation deck is one of the city’s most distinctive architectural traditions. New York not only raised the world’s first modern skyline but pioneered a new way to see it: from a series of perches atop its highest peaks.”

In a portfolio in this week’s issue, James Sanders examines the long ascent to Manhattan’s observation decks, with accompanying photographs by Pari Dukovic.

See more views from the top of the town.