One World Observatory is a three-story viewing platform occupying the 100th, 101st, and 102nd floors of One World Trade Center, the tallest building found anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to offering guests breathtaking, 360-degree views of New York City and its surroundings, One World Observatory is home to a variety of entertaining exhibits and innovative presentations that serve to enhance the experience of visiting the attraction.
History of the One World Observatory
One World Observatory is located in One World Trade Center, the centerpiece structure of the new World Trade Center complex. Designed by the same architectural firm responsible for world-famous skyscrapers like the Willis Tower and Burj Khalifa, One World Trade Center was completed in 2014. If you include in its measurements the large spire found at its very top, One World Trade Center checks in at some 1,776 feet tall. This very specific height was an important part of the building’s design: it’s a tribute to the year 1776, when the American Declaration of Independence was signed.
At present, One World Trade Center is the tallest building in New York City and the Western Hemisphere, and one of the absolute tallest buildings on the planet. One World Observatory opened near its summit in 2015. Since then, it’s developed a reputation as one of New York’s finest viewing platforms. In particular, it’s renowned for its views of the Statue of Liberty, New Jersey, and lower Manhattan.
What’s at the One World Observatory
Naturally, the big draw of One World Observatory is its setting: One World Trade Center dominates the skyline at the tip of Manhattan, meaning the views from One World Observatory are quite remarkable. Still, One World Observatory isn’t just the highest observation deck in New York City, it’s the sort of place where even the elevators are a kind of attraction themselves: as you take the lightning-fast, 60-second ride from the lobby to the top, the walls of your “SkyPod” elevator turn into a viewing screen displaying a time-lapse video of New York’s evolution from a small, seventeenth-century Dutch settlement into today’s global metropolis.
One World Observatory is also home to the See Forever Theater, which runs a short program that shares more insight into daily life in New York City, and the Sky Portal, an almost 15-foot-wide segment of the viewing platform that is entirely glass. It uses real-time footage of New York’s street-level activity to approximate the experience of staring down some 100 floors to the world below.
Since One World Observatory is part of One World Trade Center and the new World Trade Center complex, there are many dining options to be had throughout the area. If you’re in the mood to do something special, though, you can dine onsite at One World Observatory’s ONE Dine bar and restaurant. You’ll need a ticket in advance, and reservations are highly recommended, but it’s nearly impossible to beat the views you’ll have access to as you enjoy ONE Dine’s rotating seasonal menu of high-end proteins and locally sourced seafoods.
Likewise, there’s plenty of shopping to explore in One World Trade Center’s immediate surroundings. However, if you’re searching for that perfect souvenir from your trip to One World Observatory, you won’t need to look any farther than its official store. There you’ll see everything from apparel and accessories to toys, books, art, and more.
Tips for Visiting the One World Observatory
- The One World Observatory is included on several money saving tourist passes including the New York Pass, NY Explorer Pass, NYC Sightseeing Pass and NYC Turbo Pass
- One World Observatory uses a timed-entry ticketing system. This means you’ll be permitted to enter the attraction at the specific date and time listed on your ticket. Tickets may be purchased in advance online, or in person at the One World Observatory box office, which can be found at the corner of West and Vesey Streets.
- There are “tiers” to the tickets available at One World Observatory. In addition to Standard Tickets, you can upgrade your experience to “All-Inclusive”—which grants you priority elevator access, a digital guide to the attraction, and a voucher redeemable at ONE Dine or the gift shop—or “VIP”—which includes the above as well as a 1-hour guided tour. These upgrades will, of course, cost you more—but it’s worth knowing about them.
- One World Observatory tickets are non-refundable, meaning that if you visit the viewing platform on a cloudy day, or at a time when visibility is limited, you’ll be out of luck. If you’ve got some flexibility in your schedule, be certain to monitor weather conditions before committing to which day you want to visit the attraction.
- Parking in and around One World Trade Center can be tricky. When in doubt, use public transportation to get here. It’s likely to save you time, money, and a whole lot of headaches.