It’s magnificent. If the original Twin Towers signaled a shining hour of building greatness, the new Freedom Tower at 102 floors is a new marvel of the modern age.
While the 9/11 Museum is a slow-paced time to reflect, the tower is like a ride at a theme-park. With scheduled times to enter, the place is orderly, and we step into a hallway with clips of stories from those involved in the building “7 days a week, 15 hours a day.” How proud they were to be a part of it, and how relieved they were when the antenna at the very tip top slipped right into its slot. We walk through a tunnel of very, very old bedrock (like millions of years old), which is the stuff the foundation of Manhattan island is made of. And then the elevators.
We’re headed up to the 102nd floor, a 47 second flight, and throughout the short time, a video plays all around. Clips of early NYC, when first settled. Then, we step out and walk towards a railing and view another short video about the many neighborhoods of the city, at night, in the morning, in sun and rain. The walls open to Voila! a stunning sunset over New Jersey. We can see three states, five boroughs, eight bridges, and – ready for this? – 70,000 buildings. But we’re not there yet. An escalator ride down to floor 101 is where we get the jaw-dropping 360-degree view. (For $15, an iPad can be rented which provides details about the famous sights in every language.) There’s a spot where photos are taken by staff photographers, available for later purchase at the end of the visit. Oh, and there’s a gift shop and the One World Observatory restaurant here, too.
There was one second when my mind wandered to what it may have been like to be on the 101st floor with no way out. It’s a jarring moment, but then you instantly become hypnotized by the ferries heading to Staten Island, the line of red lights on West Side Highway, the traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, and even the BQE. There’s no time to stay in the horror of the day. The city, like it’s people, are back to work, with places to go. But we’ll always remember.
Photos by MJ Hanley-Goff
There are a variety of tours and price packages for tours. Please visit the following websites for more information. Advanced ticket purchase is highly recommended. Plan to start your tours early in the day before the crowds.
911groundzero.com – combination of tours available, of museum, St. Paul’s Chapel and observatory.
911memorial.org – information for the memorial pools
oneworldobservatory.com – observation deck