Open for business: Boris Johnson officially opens Shard's observation deck to public

 

Amidst the same appalling weather and poor visibility that has hung over each of The Shard’s many grand openings, Boris Johnson has officially opened the observation deck at Western Europe’s tallest building to the public.

Cutting a ribbon 244 metres above London’s seemingly permanently wet pavements, the Mayor was joined in the greying gloom by the building’s architect Renzo Piano, who claimed The Shard, which continues to divide opinion just as fiercely as it divides the London skyline, is “magic for a number of reasons.”

"First, because it's in London, second, because it's so tall, and third, because this building is a part of London. It's a sense of London.

"It's sad when London is sad, it's joyful when London is brilliant and joyful."

Mr Johnson described the building as "a most amazing place".

He said: "I don't think there's anything in London like this.

"It's the closest thing to being in an airplane and looking down on London. But you can walk around, you've got complete stability.

"You can see all the bends in the river, you can see my office, you can see Buckingham Palace, you can see the whole thing for 40 miles around."

Shortly after Mr Johnson had cut the ribbon, there were celebrations of a different kind as a man proposed to his girlfriend from the observation deck.

When James Episcopou, 22, got down on one knee the moment was captured by a host of photographers.

Mr Episcopou, a supervisor at John Lewis, said: "I've had it planned since July last year. When tickets first came out I thought I've got to buy them, it's the perfect place to propose.

"Laura means everything to me and I wanted to make her feel on top of the world.

"We had no idea the media were going to be there, but when we arrived we saw Boris Johnson and there were cameras everywhere."

It is certainly true that it is the first ‘public’ viewing gallery over London. All its other similar vantage points are ensconced in expensive bars and restaurants, and considerably lower down. That said, a couple of gin and tonics, at say, Galvin at Windows, on the roof of the Park Lane Hilton won’t set you back much more than the Shard’s £24.95 ticket price (£18.95 for children), which is significantly more than the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, and every other comparable attraction anywhere in the world.

But that hasn’t stopped the 4,800 people who have paid admission for today. The decks are sold out for the next several weeks.

On a clear day, visitors will be able to enjoy a 360-degree view of the capital's skyline, from a platform almost twice the height of any other in the city.

With the help of specially-designed telescopes, they should be able to pick out London's landmarks in the streets below.

Visitors to the attraction - on floors 68, 69 and 72 - are whisked up in two high-speed lifts in around 60 seconds.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water