About 11 years after the attacks of September 11, history is being re-written in New York with the opening of a new observatory: One World Observatory.
On May 29, 2015, the day of the official opening, I went there 2 times in order to provide you enough information and photos showing the inside of the building… and I also met the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio! ☺
Discover One World Observatory
├ History and numbers
├ Do I need to book before visiting the Observatory?
├ How is the waiting line outside?
├ What’s in the 100th floor ?
├ How to take good pictures?
├ Details to note
├ What can you bring to the OWO?
├ What are the hours of operation?
├ When is the best time to visit?
├ The rates for the OWO
History and numbers
Before I go into any details about the observatory I feel it is important to go over a bit of history of the One World Trade Center and also the neighborhood that surrounds the building.
As you all know, this new complex was installed in the Financial District of New York and built immediately after the tragic attack on the Twin Towers that were destroyed on September 11, 2001. It is an icon of the city to the worlds eyes, this tragic event was a shock to the whole world but especially to Western countries.
Four years later, in June 2005, a project was presented by architect David Childs, called “Freedom Tower” and was finally accepted.
The project began in April 2006 and seven years later, on May 10, 2013 the “One World Trade Center” was finally complete.
After the inauguration on November 2014, some companies invested in offices, but it was not until May 29, 2015 that it was opened to the public.
Here are some facts and information from the tower and observatory:
– It measures 546 meters high (1776 feet), which corresponds exactly to the year of the Declaration of Independence of the United States.
– It is the tallest building in North America.
– If we remove the antenna, measuring 129 meters (almost ¼ of tower height), it would be the second tallest building after the “Willis Tower” in Chicago that measures 527 meters with 110 floors.
– It has 104 floors.
– The observatory is on floors 100, 101 and 102.
– The building has 73 elevators, but only five are used for the OWO (One World Observatory). The other lifts are used for security and office employee’s floors 19 to 100.
– The estimated cost is 3.9 billion dollars.
Do I need to book before visiting the Observatory?
Sure, it’s better because there may not be places available on the day you want to go.
When I went it was in the morning and there were still some places available, but for the opening night there were no tickets left. Just as I advise for helicopter tours, it is best to book early to ensure access and times that you prefer. It would be a pity to have a 6-hour wait, that could be time you can spend on your trip instead.
So to book, simply visit the website and choose their OWO day and time that best suits you: oneworldobservatory.com
Unfortunately you may have difficulty purchasing your tickets, because their system presented failures and this would force you to try to make your purchase more than once. If you have this problem, try at a different time of day. When I bought my tickets for the day as well as night over the first payment went right through, so the error does not happen all the time.
If you can’t purchase your tickets on the official website. You can try on www.citysightsny.com. (PS: It’s cheaper there 😉 )
How is the waiting line outside?
You should get there the time you booked your tickets it is useless to arrive any earlier because you wont be able to enter before.
Once inside, you have to go down taking an escalator to the -1 floor.
After showing your entrance ticket, you will go through security check.
After passing the security checkpoint, you will come across a wide screen that gives the main statistics of the observatory: the traffic of people since it opened (I was number 280, and the photo raised to 10,480 when doing my second visit), the different Nationalities that visited the building, number of American visitors, and number of foreign visitors (the picture shows that 60% of visitors are American and 40% from abroad)…
The visit continues through a hall looking like any Disneyland attraction. It is a hall full of monitors that transmit images of the construction workers who participated in it.
You follow a corridor of fake rocks, and finally you’ll arrive at 5 lifts that take you to the 102nd floor.
Once in the elevator …
… You will watch a video that shows the history of the City of New York from 1525 to the present.
In fact, the video lasts 50 seconds, the time it takes to move from floor -1 to 102 !! My ears clogged a bit, yet it is an awesome feeling ☺
The video in the elevator will be displayed in daylight during the day, if it is already dark outside, it will display a video of the city at night. When you descend, you will discover another video, it will give the impression of being in a drone, but I wont spoil the surprise.
After the elevator, you will come to a small room where I met Bill de Blasio, here you have to stand in line for about 4 or 5 minutes.
Finally you will reach a wide space with a very large screen, once the room is full, there will be a small film, but I prefer not to ruin the surprise.
Then on floor 101 is where the restaurants are, but there is only two: one that sells snacks and other salads, sandwiches and pastries.
On the other side there is a bar where you can sit and enjoy a magnificent view of Manhattan.
And finally, the 100th floor, the floor of the real observatory, where you will have a 360 ° view! It takes about 30 minutes to get from the entrance to floor 100.
What’s in the 100th floor ?
It is the only floor that allows you to have a view of each side of the tower.
It is not squared or rectangular, you will see that is not easy to find a good angle to take the desired picture.
The only thing I did not like is how hard it was to take pictures because of the thickness of the glass.
To take pictures, if you are 1 meter away from the glass, you will probably capture a lot of reflection from the interior. The best way to take a picture is to put your camera as close as possible on the glass.
In this floor, there is a north and south space with a guide that shows a lot information about NY thanks to a complicated system of flat screens, reacting to the movements of the guide.
You will find a souvenir shop likewise all the attractions of New York. You will notice that the prices are exorbitant! A simple shirt costs between $ 34 and $ 44.
And right there you will see the Skyportal, a giant screen depicting the space around the building. You can stand on it, its is like a huge plate of glass. It is particularly amazing!
How to take good pictures?
You would have to go north of the observatory, just behind the screens with animations right in the tiny space on the right side facing Manhattan and the Empire State Building.
And then put your camera as close as possible to the glass to avoid reflections, but if you visit at night, put the camera down to take great photos with “long exposure”.
You may get pictures like this:
Details to note:
You can visit the OWO with children and babies in strollers and wheelchairs.
Also, you can rent an iPad for $ 15 to have an app that gives information about the buildings and other New York landmarks around you.
What you can bring to the OWO?
You can take with you:
– Compact Camera
– Small Cameras
But you can’t carry:
– Knives and sharp objects
– Professional Cameras (without permission)
– Liquids and food.
What are the hours of operation?
The One World Observatory will be open every day of the year:
– From 9h00 to 22h00 (last access to 21h15) between May and September.
– Regular hours rom 9h00 to 20h00 (last entry at 19h15).
When is the best time to visit?
During the morning there is a glare that hits in the eastern side of the building that overlooks Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn North. It will be difficult to take photos of this side of the building. But on the side of New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty, there is no problem ☺
At noon, the sun will be at the zenith, that will be the best time to take pictures of all sides of the observatory.
Be careful when booking, if you see that sunset is at 20:30, do not book rising an entry for 20:15. Give yourself enough time, about 30 minutes to get to the top of the building. It is best to book an hour earlier, so you can enjoy both the sunset and nightfall ☺
The best tip is to visit in the afternoon to appreciate the view both in daylight and at night. The only drawback is that you’re not the only ones in the building, and I assume that there are more tourists during the day.
The rates for the OWO are:
– Free For children 0-5 years.
– $ 28 for children 6-12 years.
– $ 34 between 13 and 64 years.
– $ 32 for people 65 and older.
There is a preferential rates for groups of 20 or more.
You can also purchase your tickets with CitysightsNY:
– One World Observatory: $33 for adults and $27 for childen.
– One World Observatory + All Around Town Tour: $74 for adults and $64 for children.
– One World Observatory + Citysightseeing Ferry Cruise: $52 for adults and $42 for children.
Even if the entry is a bit expensive, I think it is interesting to visit the OWO, it gives us an unparalleled view and completely different from the other observatories NYC (Top of the Rock and Empire State Building).
The view of the OWO is very similar to the view the Twin Towers offered, will be very exciting to see New York from this side of Manhattan.
I disliked the inability to take pictures I wanted because of the window, so my favorite building in New York still is the Top of the Rock.
I do not mean that it is not worth visiting it; on the contrary you should visit all the observatories of New York. ☺
I still have my souvenir photo, and I’m glad I was able to visit the OWO the day of its opening to the public!
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