Canadian Wanderer

Travel plans, thoughts & lessons

Visiting One World Trade Center Observatory New York City

Like watching in horror as a good neighbors’ house you’ve visited often burns to the ground at the hands of an arsonist and taking a personal interest in its reconstruction I was excited to experience the One World Trade Center Observatory on a recent New York City visit as I’d watched from a distance the gleaming new landmark rise from the ashes of the “Twin Towers” felled by terrorists on September 11th, 2001.

I’d stared down on Manhattan from the heights of the indoor observation deck of the original World Trade Center months before their destruction but a small fear of heights prevented me from venturing to the outdoor viewing platform much to my regret and it was these memories that flooded back while confirming my admission to the One World Trade Center Observatory.

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Visitors are encouraged to confirm tickets online in advance as walk-up entry can’t always be accommodated to due high demand. The lowest priced standard adult admission is USD$34 but evening entrance after 8 PM is half price. There are online discount codes posted regularly such as this one from “New York’s Original City Guide” which can save as much as 20% off the adult daytime admission and I took advantage to save USD$7 on my entry fee. Note that at this price level visitors must select a specific date & time of entry and once booked no refunds or changes are possible so you should be very sure of your plans before booking. I waited until a few days prior to departure to confirm my ticket and there was still space available on the 9 AM entry which is the earliest of the day but holiday long weekends or other high demands times may mean having to confirm your entry further in advance to lock in your preferred time. There is a Flex admission that allows visitors to enter anytime during operating hours and bypass any lines however this type of ticket is double the cost of the regular daytime adult admission so there’s a hefty price premium for that flexibility.

After clearing a cursory security check in the lobby guests board the elevator for a fast ride to the 102nd floor observatory but rather than a glass elevator showing a view of the city this elevator ride instead projects Manhattan as it was from it’s early beginnings to present day.

From the observation deck there is an outstanding view of Governors Island which is well worth a detour for its amazing Manhattan skyline views as well as its 200-year military history.

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The Empire State Building anchors the midtown skyline with the Hudson River to the left and East River to the right.

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Lady Liberty stands atop her pedestal on Liberty Island while Ellis Island welcomed millions of immigrants to New York and the United States.

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Visitors are able to take a ferry ride to both islands from Lower Manhattan and while the Statue of Liberty is an iconic landmark that should be on any first-time visitors sightseeing list a visit to Ellis Island is highly recommended as it helps to humanize the waves of immigrants that sought a better life in America.

The graceful arches of the Brooklyn Bridge span the East River linking Brooklyn and Manhattan with the nearby Manhattan Bridge just to the left.

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I would budget about an hour soaking in the scenery from the 102 floor observation deck but the ability to linger exists with the small One Café as well as One Dine restaurant and One Mix lounge. There’s a sample menu for One Dine for those not minding the sky high prices.

Back at ground level there are the adjacent 9/11 Memorial & Museum well worth a visit as the two square footprints occupied by the twin towers have been turned into pools with the names of the victims inscribed in the metal ledge that surrounds each pool. The landscaped open-air plaza has a natural feel in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood so didn’t fee as if an artificial memorial has been imposed on the location.

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The striking white winged Oculus is the centerpiece of the Trade Center Transportation Hub and was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to resemble a dove in flight. Officially opened in March, 2016 the terminal cost $4 billion to build making it the world’s most expensive train station.

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The interior is as striking as the exterior with a stark white cathedral-like central hall resembling something from a science fiction movie.

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The Transportation Hub serves 250,000 Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) commuters daily and tens of thousands more visitors and local workers who use the many pedestrian walkways and indulge in some retail therapy in one of the upscale shops found on multiple levels of retail and dining in this new crossroads of Lower Manhattan.

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The Oculus and towering One World Trade Center are both engineering and design marvels that are easy to explore given their close proximity. This documentary goes into much more detail about how the building was built and the important place it occupies both physically as well as symbolically in New York’s skyline.

 Lucas Franco


  1. Great pictures! It looks like it was a picture perfect clear weather day at the top.

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