Around the World in 80 Clicks

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U.S.A.: One World Trade Center

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One World Trade Center | U.S.A. | Americas

[Visited: June 2015]

It has been opened just days before my visit to New York, and when I see the skies clear during my early morning run in Central Park, I decide to go for it: visit One World Trade Center. I get off the subway one stop south of the building, so I can get a full view of the tower while walking towards it. The official name is One World Trade Center, but people also refer to it as Freedom Tower. Much more elegant than the original Twin Towers, it still has some resemblance to the buildings that once defined the skyline of Manhattan. The new World Trade Center complex has been rebuilt after quite some controversy; after architect Libeskind won the competition for the design, it was Childs who was the leading architect.

Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): The skyline of Lower Manhattan seen from below with One WTC o the left

After walking past the memorial for the Twin Towers, where the new World Trade Center dwarfs all those paying respect to the victims of the attacks, I arrive right at the foot of the enormous building. This is the tallest building of the western hemisphere, and the fourth tallest of the world; it measures 1776 feet, referring to the year the declaration of independence was signed in the USA. When I walk around the corner, I see a crowd in line, but fortunately, things are organised efficiently, and I can join the line for my booked entrance, walk down one level, and pass security control. I walk into a kind of tunnel, underground. The walls are covered by video screens, and on both sides, there are images of the construction process, interviews with people involved in the construction, their motivation, images of the effects of hurricane Sandy on the site, placing the antenna on top of One WTC, and more. Then, I walk in space hewn out between rocks: the rockbed on which not just the World Trade Center, but all of Manhattan is built. I have to queue up for the elevator; the ride is memorable: on the walls, the development of New York is projected, and within half a minute, we arrive at floor 102, just under 400 metres above the ground. But instead of views, we are guided to a rail, the lights are dimmed, and we get a flashy presentation about present-day New York. It ends in a big surprise spectacle - which I won't reveal here for those who still plan to visit.

Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): Manhattan spreading towards the horizon as seen from the observatory of One WTC

Once out on the observation deck, the views of the city and surroundings are just as great as you would imagine. You can see almost until the northern tip of Manhattan, you can see the Hudson and East river around it, you can see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, New Jersey, Brooklyn, the bridges connecting Manhattan to the surrounding lands. There are the other landmark buildings, like Chrysler and Empire State building. Closer by, several buildings are still under construction, and from the southern side of the tower, you can just see the two memorial pools, marking the footprints of the Twin Towers. One World Trade Center is all about the future, it is about the uniqueness of New York, it is about the essence of the United States. There are presentations about the city: it is definitely not all about the skyscraper, but more about the great city lying at your feet. The previous WTC is hardly mentioned at all; after all, the history of the site is already told at ground level. When I am in the elevator taking me back to ground level, I realize just how well organized and slick the experience of going up to the observation deck of One World Trade Center really is.

Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): Video presentation about the construction of One World Trade Center in the basement
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): The pool of the 9/11 memorial in the foreground, and One World Trade Center rising behind it
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): Close-up of a corner of One WTC
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): One World Trade Center seen from below
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): During the elevator ride, the history of New York is presented on the walls
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): The southern entrance to One World Trade Center
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): The southeastern tip of Manhattan, with Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge spanning East River in the background
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): One World Trade Center seen from below
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): The skyline of Manhattan seen from the top of One World Trade Center
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): The observation deck of One World Trade Center seen from above
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): The square pool marking the spot of the southern Twin Tower
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): Video presentation on rock in the basement of the building about the construction
Picture of One World Trade Center (U.S.A.): Once on the 102nd floor, you get a vivid presentation about life in Manhattan

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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