Americas | Destinations | Living in New York | USA

One World Observatory in New York: what to expect…

1 November 2017

Today, let me tell you about my experience of the One World Observatory in New York. If you are from out of town, that’s the name of the Observatory located on the highest floor of the so-called Freedom Tower, in the Financial District. It offers some 360° spectacular views of Manhattan.


An attraction for tourists? 


When I was living in New York, it would have never occurred to me to take an elevator up to the top of the Freedom Tower. I had seen it come out of the ground, I had suffered from the noise and dust coming from the construction site, but I did not feel particularly curious to see the inside of building, or its top.

It’s a known fact that when you live in a city, you’re often the last one to do the “touristy stuff”. For instance, it took me months to go on top of the Empire Building and I only did because my sister was in town, visiting from France. Same thing happened with the Eiffel Tower when I was living in Paris. I only went because some American friends wanted to go. 

Yet, when I recently came back to New York, Monsieur Chéri suggested it and I went along with it. I usually hate playing the tourist in the city where I have lived but sometimes it’s good to do it nonetheless. 


What to expect?  


First, like pretty much everywhere else in Manhattan, you’ll have to wait in line for a while. Take advantage of this unpleasant wait to look up and admire the architectural work, the purity of the tower lines. Notice how, when the sky is blue, you can’t tell where the tower stops and where the sky starts.



Then, you’ll go down to reach the elevators (you’ll have to queue some more in a quite oppressing environment). The journey to the top floor is very beautiful. The elevator’s walls turn into animated screen and as you go up, you see the evolution of the Manhattan skyline through time. It’s very well done.

As you exit the elevator, you are placed in a dark room and then… tada!


The observatory


The curtain is lifted and you get a first glimpse at what you came to see. But just for a sec though, as you are immediately asked to move to the next room. And this is when the big commercial show starts. First, mandatory stop on the way to the actual observatory, you go through the photographers’ area. Green screens, fake backgrounds, they actually look at you badly if you decide not to pose. Then you go through a boutique (maybe two actually) until you reach an area where a man waits for you with a microphone. You expect a few explanations. But no, instead, you have to stay there and listen to the guy tell you about the headsets and ipads you can rent to understand what you’re looking at. At that point, I was pretty pissed and wanted to run away from all of this.

However, when we finally got the Observatory, I calmed down and simply admired the beautiful views. Look for yourselves…


Monsieur Chéri and Manhattan… That’s all I love


How much does it cost?


37$/person. Yup, that it’s quite ridiculous. If you want the audioguide and feel like purchasing the picture, you’ll end up spending much more than that.


What to do and see nearby?


  • The 9/11 Memorial Museum. Really worth it but plan about two hours if you want to make th most of your visit. 
  • Take a look at the Memorial’s reflecting pools. They materialize the place where the Twin Towers used to stand and all around them you can read the names of the victims of the tragedy. Very beautiful and moving.
  • Go shopping inside the Oculus, this building that looks like a porcupine. It is home to a train station as well as a huge and futuristic mall. 
  • Wall Street, the “Charging bull” from Arturo Di Modica and the Fearless girl who’s now facing the bull. 


Where to eat? 

  • Lunch, go to Eataly, 101 Liberty St. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a huge store dedicated to Italian products and to the Italian gastronomy (for Monsieur Chéri when he lived in New York, regular trips to this place were a matter of survival). You’ll get to choose between several restaurants and booths to nibble something (while enjoying a nice view of the reflecting pools). 
  • For dinner, if you feel like doing something amazing and fancy, I am an absolute fan of L’Appart, located in the District, 225 Liberty St. Check out my review of l’Appart here.




I liked


  • The view of course!!!
  • The elevator ride


I didn’t like


  • The price of the ticket (way too high).
  • The excessive commercial pressure


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