A Brooklynite’s pilgrimage to the top of the World Trade Center
The splendid new skyscraper we see from so many waterfront Brooklyn neighborhoods stands on sacred ground.
For the longest time, this Brooklynite has been waiting for the chance to step inside 1 World Trade Center, instead of simply staring at it from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, the DUMBO shore, the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge and numerous other spots in our borough.
The stunning tower symbolizes the city’s recovery and rebuilding efforts after the Sept. 11 destruction of the Twin Towers during a terrorist attack that murdered nearly 3,000 of our family members, friends and fellow New Yorkers.
Last November, Vogue publisher Condé Nast moved its employees into the 1,776-foot-tall tower. But the rest of us haven’t been able to spend time in the building — until the May 29 opening of One World Observatory, the circular-shaped visitors center near the top of the famous new building.
Up at the observatory, you’ll see Brooklyn as you’ve never seen it before — unless you visited the observation deck in the original World Trade Center or dined at its much-loved restaurant, Windows on the World.
On Sunday, this reporter made a visit to One World Observatory at the corner of West and Vesey streets. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge felt like a perfect way to get there. It turned the day into a pilgrimage of sorts.
Numerous people stood on the bridge, snapping selfies with the World Trade Center in the backdrop — a reminder that the new tower has become an instant icon on the Lower Manhattan skyline.
It made sense to spend part of the visit at the World Trade Center’s memorial fountains. The names of those who died on 9/11 are carved in the black marble surrounding the two pools, which were built on the footprints of the destroyed Twin Towers.
The observatory is quite the tourist magnet.
But don’t let that stop you from seeing it. The number of people allowed into the observatory is controlled by the sale of a limited number of admission tickets, which are timed at 15-minute intervals.
The observatory is on floors 101 and 102 of the tower, which was designed by David Childs of Skidmore Owings & Merrill.
During our visit, there were lots of people gazing out the floor-to-ceiling windows, taking photos of the urban landscape spreading in all directions beneath cerulean skies. But everybody was polite about giving each other space for snapping great shots.
It has been 14 years since this reporter visited the South Tower Observation Deck at the top of the original World Trade Center and was wined and dined high up in the North Tower at Windows on the World.
It was both heart-wrenching and exhilarating to see beloved Brooklyn and a bevy of beautiful Manhattan skyscrapers from the top of the new 1 World Trade Center.
Of course, there are towers in Downtown Brooklyn that hadn’t been built in 2001 when we last set foot in the Twin Towers, and the DUMBO piers look different now.
But the heart doesn’t remember distinctions like that, not after a decade and a half.
It recalls, with a shock, what it was like to be there in skyscrapers that are gone forever and see for miles and miles and miles.
Check out oneworldobservatory.com for One World Observatory ticket info. Advance purchases are recommended.
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