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Room with a View

One World Observatory Welcomes First Visitors

With the May 29 opening of the new observatory at One World Trade Center, visitors can once again experience sweeping views of Manhattan that stretch for 50 miles from the top of tallest building in North America.  Dubbed One World Observatory, the new three floor observatory, operated by Legends, is located on floors 100, 101 and 102 of the 104-storey tower.   While the project is indeed a milestone and restores  a view that was lost with the total obliteration of the World Trade Center on September 11 2001, the observatory is more about entertainment than renewal as it all but sidesteps the emotional difficulties of the site and the contentious rebuilding process opting instead to put a positive spin on a tragedy of epic proportions. 

The journey up takes 47 seconds via high speed elevators equipped with media walls that tell the history of Lower Manhattan’s development over the past 500 years. As one ascends, visitors will see the area transform from swamp land to village settlements to the building of the twin towers in the1960s.  When it reaches the top, the elevator doors open and deliver the visitors to the 102 floor. After a two minute video presentation, screens lift up to reveal the dramatic view north toward mid-town manhattan.  To experience true panoramic views of the city, visitors must take the escalator down to the 100th floor as the 101st and 102nd floors are shared by restaurants, a gift shop, and a kitchen.    Like many things in New York the trip up doesn’t come cheap.  Ticket prices are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors, and $26 for kids age 6-15.   Unlike the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center which offer similar experiences, there is no access to the outside at One World Observatory.  And for those unfamiliar with the geography, there is no one to help you locate what you are seeing from the various vantage points.  For an additional $15 you can rent a tablet with an app that will locate the landmarks and sites around you.   

Legends estimates that 4 million people will visit One World Observatory this year.  This number is similar to the 3-4 million visitors that the Empire State Building receives each year and the 4 1/2 million people that visit the High Line Park.   In spite of the high cost of entry and the fixed narrative that you can’t escape, One World Observatory offers a view of the city that is not to be missed.  

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