Our Visit to the One World Observatory at Tower One of the WTC (World Trade Center)
After years of waiting we had the fine chance to visit Tower One’s Observatory on the very first day of its opening on May 29. 2015. Below is a detailing of our visit. At the bottom of this page you’ll find some of the many photos taken there.
Our Arrival at Tower One of the WTC
Our visit began with our arrival via the newly opened second floor of the WTC PATH Train West Concourse Tunnel. Keep in mind that the entryway there is clearly titled to indicate it as an entryway to the observatory. There within was a line along with an usher whom I’d asked “how early was too early”; considering that my entry time was slated for 2:00 pm and it was now just slightly past 1:00 pm. The girl there instructed us that 10 minutes leeway should be fine.
Considering how early we were we headed up above to sit in front of the main One World Observatory entrance on the western side of the tower. There we’d come across two extraordinarily long lines on either side of the entrance snaking their way much like a line at an amusement park. I’ve got to say we were a bit confused considering how slow the one line containing what appeared to be ticket holders was moving. After a half an hour of watching this painstakingly slow line go nowhere we headed over to the PATH train entrance so’s to work our way back across the PATH Train Tunnel and up to the line we’d first come across; all without having investigated whether actually walking into the building through the western entrance would’ve gotten us anywhere. Mind you I’ve mentioned all of this so’s to enlighten any folks unfamiliar with the inner workings of One WTC and the unseen-as-yet interior structure which should be revealed to all, come the end of 2015, once the WTC Transit Hub has actually opened.
Now on to our waiting on line which was a mere ten minutes before we were ushered in through the security check. Everything up to this moment and beyond went very smoothly. You’ll be requested to remove all metallic objects from your body including belts and such and place them through the security conveyor belt to be scanned whilst you walk through the airport-like metal detector. After that we were well on our way to another line leading us first through a high tech path (titled “Voices”) lined with video screens throughout, then through a cavernous tunnel (titled “Foundations”) with informational projections letting us know about the bedrock we were now passing through.
Up We Go
Arriving at the elevator bank we were greeted by an entertaining fellow who in no time ushered us into the next arriving ‘Sky Pod’ elevator. We were barely aware of the speed we must’ve been going at to reach the 102nd floor in 47 seconds. A video played from inside the elevator walls, giving us a visual video timeline of lower Manhattan’s development. It was, in my opinion, brilliantly thought out, although not all of us could’ve enjoyed all that was shown on the surrounding walls considering how hard it is to turn around when you’re all squeezed into such a small space.
At the top we were instructed about the two floors below and how that first one was merely a precursor to what’s in store. Of course they repeat that last bit several times since everyone’s so overwhelmed by the views that it’s mighty hard to press on.
At The Main Observatory
Allow me to begin by stating that the outlook up here are without question spectacular. The 360° views afforded you of New York City and what lies beyond for miles and miles is truly something. It’s a remarkable experience once you’ve maneuvered your way into an open spot at any particular window. Not that glancing over somebody’s shoulder is without its merits but let’s face it. Most folks’ objectives up there, aside from taking in the view, is to actually capture it through a photograph or video; un-obstructively speaking that is. Throw in for good measure all the many fingerprints and interior reflections cast by the sunlight upon the glass enclosure and well…you might find yourself longing for the open air of the Top of the Rock’s own Observation Deck.
If in fact you’re looking to take photos then let it be known that my own smartphone did a wonderful job of capturing photos and self-adjusting for the aforementioned fingerprints and reflections; despite the two DSLR cameras hanging off my shoulders. Mind you I’ve always got my cameras on manual settings for RAW images. Methinks I’ll be setting them to automatic on my next visit.
I’m really interested in seeing all the many future photos to be taken from up there. That is, for the sake of determining the best time of day and the best weather. Questions arise in my mind as to whether a cloudy day would be better as opposed to one with the sun directly overhead and such. I’d imagine the nighttime hours as creating just as much of a problem as daytime since the interior lights would then set off their own reflections. But then, that all remains to be seen.
One other pet peeve of mine was the lack of seating. Not for myself, but for the many individuals who took to sitting down at the base of the windows themselves. At face value I’d have taken this to be mere rudeness but I realize how many of these tourists may have been in dire need of a spot to sit if only for a moment’s worth of rest. At least the Top of the Rock (yep! I’m comparing again.) has plenty of indoor seats and rest spots. I’d say a few benches would’ve gone a long way. It also would have been helpful to have at least a worker (ushers?) at the bottom of the escalators so’s to steer people along. Our first descent from the floor of our arrival nearly ended up in an accident since some short-sighted individuals decided to stop at the bottom of the escalator without any thoughts for those behind them; and I assure you there were plenty of us behind them.
Beyond the Observatory
The next floor down below the Main Observatory would be the restaurant and store. Honestly, yours truly has been around the block enough times to already know what sorts of prices would be asked for within their eatery; and how much their souvenirs would go for. Heck, a quick glance at the sales ticket on one of their items confirmed it all. Yep, $39 for a t-shirt. I can only hope that the quality thereof is better than the $20 t-shirt I’d gotten years earlier at their makeshift museum. One which I truthfully purchased more as a donation than the product itself, but geez! Sell me something that’s not going to chip and fade after a couple washes!
The ride down in the ”Sky Pod” gives you a pseudo bird-in-flight view of the exterior of One WTC as it descends down to ground level, encircling the tower along the way. This time, unlike the ascent, we really felt the change in pressure since I had to swallow several times to clear my ears. Not entirely sure if everyone went through that but my companion did indeed claim to having somewhat the same experience, but not to the degree which I felt.
I hope and wish that every one of you out there will take in this locale at least once in your individual lives. I would highly recommend the WTC Observatory since everyone should experience this. I myself am looking forward to revisiting sometime in the future after I’ve had a look at the many more photos to come from others’ visits. I just wish the cost of entry wasn’t so high.