Take a Virtual Tour of the One World Trade Center Observatory


Disappointing news for Condé Nast employees: One World Trade Center’s observatory won’t be open when they start moving in this Saturday, November 1. In fact, the $3.9 billion building’s observatory will not officially open until 2015 — but you (yes, you!) can take a virtual tour of it today.

One World Observatory will occupy three of the building’s 104 floors (levels 100, 101, and 102). The building’s owner told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week they expect 3.5 million visitors a year will take the sub-60-second elevator (“Sky Pod,” in PR-speak) ride to the observatory.

Tickets will cost between $26 and $32 (9-11 family members and rescue and recovery workers and kids under five can visit for free). The owners are projecting observatory visitors will bring in $53 million a year by 2019, or about a quarter of the building’s expected revenue. (The Empire State Building, which makes about 40 percent of its revenue from tourists, charges between $29 and $67 a pop to visit its observation deck.)

Here’s what One World Observatory will look like from the inside:

But why watch that when you can take a textual tour, via this press release?

Upon entry, guests will be greeted in the Welcome Center, where a large cutting-edge video board will display a personalized greeting in their native language. Guests will then proceed to a pre-show program, titled Voices of the Building, that will incorporate first-person accounts describing the rise of One World Trade Center, and Foundations, which depicts and symbolizes the very bedrock upon which it stands. Visitors will board one of five dedicated elevators, termed Sky Pods, to ascend to the very top of the building in under 60 seconds. The elevators will feature three walls with floor-to-ceiling LED TVs, which will use immersive technology to display the rise and growth of New York City, simulating the skyline’s development through the present day.

The Sky Pod elevators, among the fastest in the world, will bring passengers directly to the See Forever™ Theater on the 102nd floor. The See Forever™ Theater will present a two-minute video presentation unlike any other, combining bird’s-eye imagery, time-lapse shots, and abstract textures and patterns to bring the unique rhythm and pulse of New York City to dramatic life in three dimensions.

The main observatory space on the 100th floor will include an interactive skyline “concierge” — City Pulse — that will connect guests closer to the landmarks and neighborhoods they observe across the city. Global ambassadors will be stationed at City Pulse to engage with guests, facilitate requests for more information, and share stories of the city. Using gesture recognition technology, the ambassador — with the simple wave of a hand — will draw up relevant facts and real-time information on a circular band of display screens in front of the windows.

The 100th level also features the Sky Portal, where guests will be invited to step onto a 14-foot-wide circular disc in the floor for an unforgettable view (in live HD) of the city streets below.

One World Observatory will also offer three distinct dining options on the 101st floor available to guests with Observatory tickets, including seated fine dining to casual, on-the-go café fare, and a bar. Catering will be available on the 102nd floor, which will operate as a 9,300-square-foot special event space with a maximum capacity of 330. The premier space will include floor-to-ceiling, uninterrupted views, high-end décor and an exclusive, customizable experience with a state-of-the-art sound system and HD projection capabilities.

Lest we forget our past in the excitement over those futuristic-sounding proper names — Sky Pod elevators! City Pulse! Sky Portal! See Forever™ Theater! — the owners crowdsourced a time-lapse of the building as it was built.

Tickets for the Observatory will go on sale early next year at

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 29, 2014


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