One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, New York

Martyn White

Posted on July 25 2018

Visiting the One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial & Museum to explore, discover and remember New York of the past and present. 

The city that never sleeps has so much to offer visitors, from edgy bars and sophisticated restaurants to impressive landmarks and mesmerising views. If it is a view that you are after, it is time to head straight to the One World Trade Center; the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere to take a look down at the hustle and bustle of the streets below. Discover the sights from my recent visit to the One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial and the museum below. 

World Trade Center Memorial and station


The World Trade Center grounds are a very surreal place to be. As one walks around, it is as if the rest of the world is tuned out. Calmness and peace replace the eccentric buzz that you feel with the rest of Manhattan. The atrocities that took place on the site still echo through many of our minds. While the grounds are now home to new business developments, it is a place to reflect and remember, executed in such a beautiful way. 

One World Observatory 

New York Skyline views from One World Observatory World Trade CenterBrooklyn Bridge from the top of the World Trade CenterStatue of Liberty and Liberty Island from the top of the World Trade CenterEllis Island from the top of the World Trade Center

With uninterrupted 360 degree views across Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, One World Observatory is one of the very few places to go if you want to make New York look small. The observation deck is set out across three floors between 100 - 102 with the first-floor acting as the gallery, the second hosting the eating venues 'One Café', 'One Mix' and 'One Dining. The final floor is reserved for private events. Upon ascending in the elevator, visitors are treated to a surrounding video exhibiting the evolution of Manhattan over the past 500 years. Exiting the elevator, guests are informed about the construction of the tower and the history with a further video demonstration that retracts to reveal the impressive views of the real city skyline. Once in the main gallery, on a bright day, it is possible to see for over 50 miles and even view the curvature of the Earth if you look closely. The observation deck is also great to see the New York icons; The Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Chrysler Building and even Central Park. 

9/11 Museum 

Located beneath the ground level of the World Trade Center site is the 9/11 Museum. Documenting the events of the September 11th attacks and the impact that it has had on the city of New York. As you would expect, the experience can be pretty upsetting, and some areas will not be suitable for small children. Descending down a long escalator within the pavilion space, visitors witness the first two artefacts of the collection, the tridents; two 80-foot tall steel columns that once formed part of the exterior facade of the North Tower. The vast space of the 'foundation hall' slowly reveals itself as guests walk down 'the ramp'. In an overwhelming scale, the ceilings of the hall range from 40 to 60 feet with nearly 15,000 square feet of floor space. A portion of the slurry wall, a surviving retaining wall from the original towers, along with ironworks and other artefacts are displayed. This space is also where performances happen, during my visit there was a moving recital of a choir which stopped visitors in their tracks as they listened to the moving words and poetry. The final area for the museum is the 'Memorial Hall' that sits between the footprints of the original North and South towers, displaying a quote from Virgil's Aeneid and framed by a blue-tiled artwork. Artefacts of clothing and furniture, recordings of phone calls and videos as the attacks unfolded show the magnitude of the events with a room contained within one of the footprints of the towers displaying a photograph of every person that lost their life during the attack. A special place to connect and reflect, part of the visit that I will forever remember.

9/11 Memorial & Grounds

World Trade Centre 9/11 Memorial fountain New YorkWorld Trade Centre at dusk from the 9/11 memorialWorld Trade Center Memorial

After a visit to the museum, it was time to return above ground and walk around the 9/11 Memorial. Honouring the lives of those lost, the memorial consists of two 'reflecting' pools which are each nearly an acre in size, sitting within the footprints of the original towers. The names of every person to die in the 2001 and 1993 attacks have been inscribed into bronze panels that line the edges of the memorial pools. The footprints remain forever exposed, a beautiful gesture that symbolises 'gone but not forgotten'. The pools transform throughout the day as the light changes and the surroundings transform throughout the seasons, giving new presence and beauty to every visit to the grounds. 

While the visit to the observatory, museum and memorial can be quite distressing for some, it is still something that I would recommend. The tributes and designs display the devastation and heartbreak caused but also look to the future, look to rebuilding and exhibit the resilience of New Yorkers and their incredible city.

One World Trade Center Observatory Tour

For further details and information on tickets and opening times, click to view the official website for the One World Observatory and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.


Thank you for reading. If you liked this post, here are a few more recommendations relating to New York.

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