By DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | Cool blues, high-tech gadgetry, dizzying heights and amazing vistas mark the experience at the soon-to-be-opened One World Observatory on May 29.
It begins by entering 1 World Trade Center, or the Freedom Tower, on its West St. side and going down into the building.
After getting through security, which will include random full-body scans prevalent at airports, visitors will be greeted by a giant screen with a myriad of facts about those who go to the Observatory. Once a ticket is scanned, the hometown or country of the visitor will appear on the screen and the welcome salutation will be in their mother tongue. Eighty-eight countries and all 50 states can be displayed.
Next is moving footage of those that spent over a decade building 1 W.T.C. — including construction workers, architects and Port Authority officials. Called “Voices,” the tunnel-like area had rectangles jutting out on one side, as people said things like “spent 12 years of my life on this project” and “I have never experienced a project like this” and reflected material on the other.
“Foundations” allows visitors to walk through bedrock material that flashes facts — like the bedrock foundations of 1 W.T.C was formed 450 million years ago — about what anchors the tower.
VIDEO OF THE ELEVATOR RIDE DOWN FROM 1 WTC:
On to the main event — the view. To get there, one boards at a bank of five elevators or “Sky Pods.” Inside of the elevators are floor-to-ceiling high definition televisions that display time-lapsed video that shows the development of the New York City skyline. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the incredible display. The ride is around 47 seconds long and you feel it when you disembark.
Each elevator will hold four to five people and as tickets will be timed admission, there theoretically shouldn’t be long waits. The first day the Observatory is open is almost sold out, according to a spokesperson.
Once off the elevator, the “See Forever” theater is next. Like a cubist painting brought to life, the rectangular sections show the pulse of the city, hitting upon its different neighborhoods. The film “was edited and scored to a tempo based on pedometer data of the average New Yorker,” according to the press release.
After the video is over, the sections lift to reveal the skyline. Visitors are then ushered through to the dining area, which will have three sections — a grab and go, in the style of Dean & DeLuca, a bar and grill and then a fine dining option. Much has made of the fact that unlike Windows on the World, a ticket must be purchased to eat at to the restaurant at the Observatory.
David Checketts, chairperson of C.E.O. of Legends Hospitality, said the Port Authority wanted “the best use of space,” which is why the lease does not allow the restaurants to be open to people without an Observatory ticket.
“We’re okay with it because it’s enough to accommodate the three to five million guests that will come a year,” he said.
There is a separate events floor that will be available for private functions.
The Observatory offers a spectacular panorama of the city and one could get lost walking around it, trying to identify landmarks and building. There is the obligatory photo you can get a la Empire State building and of course, a pricey gift shop (adult tee-shirts are $30 and $35). But the view is worthwhile and it its sure to be mobbed with tourists and those taking their out-of-town friends for a visit.