The observatory on levels 100, 101 and 102 of One World Trade Center in New York City opened for the first time on Friday, May 29. I was able to visit the observatory Saturday, on its second day of operation.
The building as a whole is magnificent, standing next to the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial. It provides a stunning, birds’ eye view of greater Manhattan. Within view are sights such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island.
During the ride up to the 102nd floor, the elevator walls show a video of the development of the surrounding area throughout history. From the early fields and farmlands sprout buildings, skyscrapers and the Twin Towers. In 2001, those towers fell, disappearing from the New York skyline in the elevator’s video. On the 102nd floor, visitors are given their first spectacular view of the Skyline, looking directly North to Upper Manhattan, with the skyscrapers of Midtown in sight. The elevator is among the fastest in the world, making it to the top in less than a minute.
The observatory is accessible to wheelchairs on all three levels. The 101st floor includes a dining area, with a bar and restaurant. When filled with people, as it was on its second day of business, moving throughout the very tight, crowded areas is difficult in a wheelchair. Unless you need to purchase food or drink, skipping the 101st floor may be wise.
Floor 100 is the main observation area. Wheelchair users can roll right up to the windows to peer down and take in the sights. The viewing area wraps around the entire building, allowing for a 360-degree perspective. Crowds congregate on the North side, facing the rest of Manhattan. This is the most spectacular view of the city, and wheelchair users will need to ask for others to move and make way when the observatory is at capacity.
Restrooms are available on the 100th floor, with two urinals and two toilet stalls in both the men’s and women’s facilities. One stall in each restroom is wheelchair accessible.
A gift shop is also located on the 100th floor.
Tickets for adults are $32.00, with tickets for seniors age 65+ priced at $30.00. There is no discount for the disabled. Family members of the September 11th deceased are admitted free of charge. There is no ticket option that allows for nighttime re-entry, so I recommend purchasing a ticket for one hour prior to sunset. Additional information is available at www.oneworldobservatory.com.