Insider's Guide to Visiting One World Observatory

As a symbol of hope filling the void left by the attacks on the Twin Towers, it’s the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and happens to also have an incredible 360-degree view of New York City. Standing at 1776 feet tall including the spire, its height is intentional and represents the year that the Declaration of Independence was signed. This super tall structure has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center, and if you hear it called the Freedom Tower, that’s because it was the original name.

The building has a total of 71 elevators that can travel as fast as 23 mph, meaning you can get from the ground floor to the 102nd floor in just 60 seconds. While there are other places in NYC to get great views, this one is unique in that is higher up and gives a more all-encompassing view. Skydeck is an appropriate name for the observation platform as you’ll be truly surrounded by sky.

A few simple tips in advance will help you make the most of your visit

  • Check the weather forecast beforehand to minimize the chance of a poor view.
  • Wear dark clothes if you want photos of yourself against the glass. Avoid glare.
  • The “Combination” ticket is a $10 upgrade that gives you priority access to avoid lines
  • The Security checkpoint is similar to what you’d experience at an airport
  • Go early or go late to avoid the longest lines. Meal times also see lighter traffic.
  • Go in the late afternoon and stay into the evening to enjoy both daytime and nighttime views.
  • You’ll be asked to pose for photos that they will want to sell you…great for those who want a nice group photo but if you don’t, feel free to decline.
  • Your ears may pop! Chew gum/suck on a piece of candy/give a bottle to a baby.
  • Most people report that the optional iPad is more trouble to carry around than it is helpful.
  • Cameras are allowed, but not recording devices or tripods.
  • No outside food or beverage allowed.
  • Strollers are permitted but you will have to fold them on the elevators and escalators.

How to Get There

  • By Subway – the closest stop is on Line E – get off at the World Trade Center Station. You can also get there from the Rector Street Station on Line 1, the Park Place Station on Lines 2 and 3, or the Cortland Street Station on Line R.
  • PATH Train – You can take a PATH train directly from Hoboken or Newark to One World Trade.
  • Taxi/Uber/Lyft – Get out at corner of Vesey Street and West End.

At some point in the day you will want to eat. There is a restaurant at the top called One Dine for fine dining but you will probably not want to take your entire family there. There is a large food court mall across the street and at the mall at One World Trade Center. Places to eat that are within a five- minute walk include Hudson Eats, Shake Shack, and El Vez. Walk one more minute to get to the North End Grill or Blue Smoke.

What Else to do While in the Area

  • One World Trade Center
  • National 9/11 Memorial and Museum
  • Silverstein Family Park
  • St. Paul’s Chapel/Trinity Church
  • The Oculus
  • Battery Park
  • There’s a bar one floor below the observation area. They have a restaurant up on top, but I would dine before going up at the large food court mall across the street or at the mall under 1 World Trade Center. Better yet is to walk over to 200 Church Street and dine at Trinity Diner there for the best meal is what we did.Gift shops above and below and easy access to the Westfield shopping center after.While down here check out Wall Street and the bull (and the mighty girl)! If you want to go to Brooklyn this would be the time to walk the bridge too.Between this, the 9/11 Memorial, and the World Trade Center Oculus - there's just a wealth of amazingly rich things to experience and appreciate all in the same area.