The world is invited to see forever
Growing up with yearly visits to New York City to see family, I had visited the observatory deck of the original World Trade Center on many occasions. The views never got old, and it was just something I loved to do when I visited the City with family and friends.
I’ll never forget my wonderful memories on the deck of the Twin Towers. I remember my first visit as if it were yesterday. It was raining. The elevator ride to the top was fast and shaky. It was the first time my ears popped in an elevator. Needless to say, the views weren’t great that day, but as a young child, that didn’t phase me. I was actually more interested in the people below. I remember pushing my face up against the window and staring straight down to the street. I exclaimed to my father, “wow, the people look like ants.”
I also remember my last visit to the observation deck of the Twin Towers like it was yesterday. It was early June in 2001. I had just graduated from NYU’s law program with my Masters in Tax Law. The law school was throwing a graduation party for its graduates and guests at the famous restaurant at the top, the Windows on the World. I ate, drank, danced, and celebrated. I certainly felt on top of the world that night, and it was a night I would never forget. Sadly, three months later, the Twin Towers would no longer be. Innocent lives would be lost, and we would all be changed forever.
Ever since, I kept my memories of the Twin Towers near to my heart and hoped to see the day when the observation deck would return so new generations would be able to enjoy the beautiful views of New York City and create their own happy memories with families and friends. That day has finally come, and I had a chance to visit the new observation deck at One World Trade Center just a week after its opening.
Getting to the top
One World Trade Center is located on the southwest corner of Vesey and West Streets in lower Manhattan. The entrance for the observation deck and the ticket booth is located on the West Street side of the building. The observation deck is open 7 days a week (summer hours: 9AM to midnight and off-season hours: 9AM to 8PM).
Tickets (starting at $32) are limited each day and are dated and timed in 15 minute intervals. It is highly recommended that you arrive 15 minutes before your time to ensure you don’t miss your slot. If you know the date of your visit in advance, your best bet is to buy your tickets online where you’ll have to select not just the date of your visit, but the time, too. Other ways to buy admission tickets include via mobile device, at the box office or by phone.
Once you enter, it’ll take about 15-20 minutes to get to the top. During this time, you’ll wait in a few different lines including one for ticket scanning, one for security, one for the elevator, and the final line to view a short film before being released to wander and take in the views.
The lay of the land
The top of One WTC consists of 3 different levels. The top level is where you’ll arrive, and there’s nothing to see there. Make your way around to the escalator and proceed down to the next level, the middle tier. Here, you’ll find the cafeteria (One Café), the bar (One Mix), and the fine dining restaurant (One Dine), all offering incredible views while you eat, drink and mingle.
I visited on a Friday during Happy Hour so naturally, my friend and I had to stop at One Mix and try one of their specialty drinks before going any further. More about that later! If you are not hungry or up for a drink just yet, then continue onwards and proceed down one more level. This is where you’ll find the main observation area and gift shop.
A view from the top
There’s no doubt about it, the view from the top is breathtaking. You’ll see New York City and its surroundings from all directions and from 1,250 feet above the street (and yes, the people below still look like ants!). You’ll have great photo ops of New York’s famous sites like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building. In the distance, past the skyline and iconic images of the City, you’ll get a glimpse of the Verrazano Bridge and the Atlantic Ocean.
There’s a decent size shop at the top offering your typical souvenirs including mugs, glasses, t-shirts, and puzzles. I tend to go for the easy-to-carry, easy-to-store, useful souvenir … the shot glass. There’s a nice shiny one with an image of One World Trade Center on it that will cost you $11.
Drinks and Dining
The middle tier is where you’ll find food and drink. The café and bar are right next to each other occupying the west side of the floor. Here, you can get a quick bite at either while you enjoy the views. You can also just stop by to grab a drink-to-go. The mixologist will put it in a plastic cup for you so you can walk around the main observation area with it.
The bar is nice and was quite active during my visit in the early evening hours. You can grab a stool at the long main bar, or help yourself to a table. Enjoy one of their craft cocktails, which include 5 specialty drinks named after the 5 boroughs. They also have a drink called the One World Highball ($14), which I tried. Made with whiskey, honey and ginger ale, it was actually refreshing and delicious.
If you prefer wine, you can try a glass of the house red or white ($12). It’s called One Wine, and it’s from a winery on Long Island. I tried the One White, and although not bad, it was a bit too sweet for me to want to go out and buy a bottle of it. (By the way, although you’ll see bottles on display throughout the bar/café area, they do not sell bottles of One Wine to take home with you).
Finally, there is a fine dining restaurant that faces north offering incredible views of the Empire State Building and midtown Manhattan’s skyline. One Dine has seating capacity for 59, and advanced dinner reservations are required. If you plan to enjoy dinner at One Dine, you will be required to buy a ticket to the observation deck to get to the top. It’s all about the entire experience, not just the dinner, so you’ll be able to enjoy the fantastic 360 degree views before or after you dine.
For more information:
One World Observatory
Vesey and West Streets
I visited One World Observatory on a press visit with Walks of New York’s new WTC/Wolrd Observatory tour— a great way for visitors to experience the story of the new World Trade Center.
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