I had been tracking the opening of the One World Observatory for a while, so when I was finally able to book tickets for the day after it opened, I was pumped.
Not totally sure what to expect, I was definitely pleased with the experience. The observatory has amazing views of everything iconic in Manhattan, and you can easily see into New Jersey and Long Island.
What I thought was so great about One World Trade that really set it apart from the other viewing platforms of NYC, like the Empire State, (other than being way taller) was the detail in the overall experience.
After passing through security, you walk through a tunnel with videos sharing stories of people who worked on the One World Trade, and then a tunnel explaining the bedrock foundation that the tower is built on.
The elevator is actually so cool. All sides of the elevator are floor to ceiling screens, and when you first step in, the screens show solid rock. You feel as if you are submerges in the bedrock beneath the tower. Then as the elevators start to ascend, it takes you on a trip through time and the evolution of the New York skyline from the 1600s all the way through present day. The ride from the bottom to the 102nd floor is under 60 seconds!
Once at the top, before entering the observatory, guests are ushered in to a theater for a short video presentation of different scenes from New York. The video was somewhat dull and cliché, but there is a twist at the end! All screens rise up to reveal floor to ceiling windows for a beautiful and dramatic view of Manhattan. Writing about it here really doesn’t do it justice.
The observatory is phenomenal. You can see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State, Brooklyn Bridge, and more.
Coming back down from the observatory, visiting the memorial pools is a good way to end the visit. I think the pools are beautifully done, and as an American it feels emotional to stand here. Some advice for foreign tourists, and everyone in general – please be respectful here since it is still raw for Americans. It has upset me in the past to see tourists littering here.