One World Trade Center

How to visit the Freedom Tower?

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The One World Trade Center (or Freedom Tower) is one of New York City’s main symbols! It is the tallest building in the city and the tallest skyscraper in the West. Every year, thousands of tourists climb to the 102nd floor to admire an incredible view of New York City from the panoramic balcony.

But they also come to visit the site where 2,977 victims perished on September 11, 2001 as a result of the attacks by Al Qaeda terrorists. A visit to this memorial is essential to better understand the magnitude of the event, and is a must during your stay in New York City.

To make the most of your visit, read the article below: it will give you all the information you need (opening hours, buying tickets, prices, tips...) 😊

A little bit of history

On 11 September 2001, two airliners crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. A fire caused them to collapse and in their fall, towers 6 and 7 were destroyed. That day, al-Qaeda terrorists killed 2,977 people.

After the attacks, President George Bush decided to rebuild a new World Trade Center on the same site. It took almost 18 months to clean up the site.

Following that, an architecture competition was organised and the project of American architect Daniel Libeskind was selected. He wanted six buildings (One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Seven World Trade Center) built around a memorial dedicated to the victims – the 9/11 Memorial – on the same site where the Twin Towers (1WTC and 2WTC) once stood.

one trade center

The memorial was the first building to be completed. It consists of two square overflow basins, and follow exactly the shape of the previous Twin Towers’ foundations. The names of each victim of the attacks are also engraved on a stele. The site, which is surrounded by trees and water, opened in September 2011.

In 2003, architect David Childs (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) joined the project and designed the main skyscraper and the largest building in the complex: the Freedom Tower. Construction began in November 2006 on the emplacement of the former Six World Trade Center (6WTC). The inauguration took place on 3 November 2014, though the tower’s antenna was installed before, in May 2013. The observatory opened to the public on 29 May 2015.

The tower was originally called "Freedom Tower" but the Port Authority decided to change the name to "One World Trade Center" (or 1WTC) so that there would be no negative economic impact. Indeed, the name "Freedom Tower" seemed too closely linked to the attacks.

Some info:

  • The roof of the Freedom Tower is 417 metres high (same height as the Twin Towers had been).
  • With the antenna, the tower reaches 541.30 metres high.
  • In fact, the official height of the tower is 1,776 feet high – a symbolic figure, referring to the date of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, in 1776.
  • The building has 110 floors. 70 floors, or 270,000 square metres, are for rental and sale of office space exclusively.
  •  There are 73 lifts in total, including 54 high-speed lifts. Only 5 of these provide access to the observation platform.
  • The construction required: 200,000 tonnes of concrete, 48,000 tonnes of steel and 305,000 m² of glass for the outdoor surface.  The whole structure was reinforced to resist explosions and collapses.
  • The construction is estimated to have cost over $3.9 billion.

Why visit the One World Trade Center?

one world observatory

Although the 6.5 hectare complex in Lower Manhattan is the city's main business centre and the 9/11 Memorial is a must-see memorial area, it is the One World Trade Center that attracts the attention of tourists 😃

Indeed, the monument does not go unnoticed! First of all, with its 541 metres height, it is the highest building in New York! Second, the exterior beauty of the skyscraper is undeniable. There is no way anyone can overlook this tall building with its octagonal top, its reflective glass facade and its huge antenna!

And really, how could you visit New York City without going to the observation deck of the Freedom Tower at least once? The One World Observatory has become a must-see attraction – much like a visit to the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center.

Be sure to check availability and book your tickets early so you can fully enjoy your stay. It would be a pity if, once there, it turns out that there are too many people or that the maximum capacity of the observatory has been reached, and you cannot get in. This is known to happen often during busy periods! 😕


Where and how to buy tickets for the One World Observatory?

To access the observation deck (102nd floor), you must first purchase a ticket. You can do this online or at the One World Trade Center ticket office, located in the main entrance of the building. It is possible to pay by credit card, cash or travellers cheques 🎫

Please note that the tickets are dated – you will only be able to enter the observatory at the time and date you selected at the moment of the purchase. It is therefore useless to come an hour early – you will not be able to enter!

Remember to book your tickets in advance! This will give you a better chance of visiting the One World Observatory at the time you want. It would be a shame to go there and be told to come back later because there are no more spots available. Don't waste time queuing and instead book online – your time in New York is limited!

Prices of the different tickets

In the table below, you will find the different types of tickets:


What’s included


Standard admission ticket

Access to the observatory



Priority access ticket

Priority access to the observatory



Flexible ticket

Priority access to the observatory (flexible entry) + $15 drinks and souvenirs



Guided tour

Priority access to the observatory +

Ground Zero (with guide)



Guided tour (everything included)

 Priority access to the observatory + Ground Zero + 9/11 Museum (with guide)



Admission is free for children under 5 years of age.

  • The standard admission ticket gives access to the observatory.
  • The priority access ticket includes the following: access to the observatory, priority access to the security checkpoint and the lifts (both on the way up and down), access to the Skyline digital guide.
  • In addition to all of the above, the flexible ticket entitles you to a flexible arrival time on the day you selected for your ticket (morning, afternoon or evening), as well as a $15 discount to be used at the café, bar, restaurant or gift shop.
  • The Ground Zero + One World Observatory tour is a combined ticket that gives access to both sites accompanied by a guide. There are other combo tickets between the One World Observatory and various monuments in the area (9/11 Museum, Statue of Liberty, ...).
  • The all-inclusive tour lasts 4h30 and includes a guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, as well as a no-queue access to the 9/11 Museum and the One World Observatory.

Have you thought about a tourist pass? 🎫

the new york pass

If you plan to visit several of the city's must-see, I highly recommend purchasing a New York Pass. Admission to the One World Observatory is included in the New York Pass by GoCity and the New York Sightseeing Flex Pass, among others. These passes will save you a lot of money on the price of admission to the attractions and you'll also be able to get in without queuing. Isn’t that such a good deal? 😄

If you are in New York City for only a few days and want to discover as many attractions as possible, my recommendation is the New York Pass by GoCity, which grants access to an unlimited number of attractions for only £117.


What is the visit to the Freedom Tower like?

The One World Observatory observation deck is located on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors of the One World Trade Center. It is not an outdoor platform, like the Empire State Building's, but a panoramic balcony with glass all around.

Before you get to this terrace, there will be a rather interesting route to follow. Upon entering the building, take the escalator down to level -1. You will then find yourself at the Global Welcome Center, where you will present your ticket and queue to go through the security check. Don't worry, you won't get bored because this vast room is equipped with a giant interactive screen that will welcome you in 10 languages and give you a lot of information about the observatory: number of visitors since the opening, their nationality, city of origin... 😊

one world observatory tickets
observatory new york city

That done, head to the Voices room where you can watch, on a multitude of screens, the testimonies of those who contributed to the construction of the skyscraper. You will learn many interesting facts. In the next gallery, called Foundations, you will see rocks on display: the rocks on which New York City was built.

After this, you will take one of the high-speed lifts (the Sky Pods Elevators) and will reach the 102nd floor in one minute (in 47 seconds precisely)! During the ride up, you'll see a time-lapse of New York's urban evolution from 1525 to 2016 on the lift walls. Note that on the way back down, you'll get a completely different perspective: you'll feel like you're flying all around the skyscraper!

Upon exiting the lift (on the 102nd floor), you will find yourself in the See Forever Theater where you will be treated to another two-minute video on New York (aerial views, accelerated urbanisation). At the end of the video, the screen will fade to reveal the famous skyline and the city's tallest skyscrapers!  

Upon exiting the lift (on the 102nd floor), you will find yourself in the See Forever Theater where you will be treated to another two-minute video on New York (aerial views, accelerated urbanisation). At the end of the video, the screen will fade to reveal the famous skyline and the city's tallest skyscrapers!  

You will then descend to the 101st floor where you can have your photo taken (for an additional fee when you buy your ticket) with the One World Observatory’s See Forever Imaging technology.

Following that, head to the 100th floor – the observatory floor. At a height of almost 380 metres, you will be treated to a magnificent panorama of New York: a 360° view stretching for almost 80 km, if the weather is clear. You will be able to see: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Financial District, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the bay with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Staten Island and Governors Island, and many other monuments such as the Dakota Building, the Flatiron Building...

You will see that between the monuments, the ferries in the distance, and the helicopters, there are a lot of things to see. So take the time to admire everything and enjoy the moment!

Having said all that, if you feel like experiencing what I just finished detailing above, book your tickets right now 😁

On this floor, you'll find the Sky Portal, a giant round screen that projects images of the area below you in real time, right under your feet. Avoid this portal if you're afraid of heights!

You'll also find two interactive rooms and two spaces (one to the north and one to the south) in which a lecturer will explain what's in front of you using a high-tech television system.

Before leaving, head for the Gallery at One World gift shop. Here you'll find a whole host of items made exclusively for the skyscraper. Be warned though, the prices aren't cheap!

Allow a good thirty minutes between entering the building and reaching the 100th floor! You can take your time after that, but visitors generally stay for an hour.

Have you booked your activities in New York City? 🗽

visit moma

If you are in the Big Apple and you don't know yet what to do in New York City, no worries! I’ve got tons of advice based on my own experience. First, don't miss out on the must-sees of the city, such as the most famous buildings and the various walks and guided tours that will let you discover the most important corners of the city.

Second, have a great time in New York's best museums – there is a lot to see – then relax in Central Park! For those who want to go big, I can only recommend an unforgettable helicopter flight over New York City. Now that’s a flight you won’t soon forget! 🤩 No matter what you choose to do, remember to book your activities in advance to make sure you don't miss out on anything!


How is the One World Trade Center built?

The tower has a total of 110 floors, including:

  • four underground floors, in which the car park and underground access are located,
  • the ground floor, which houses the entrance hall,
  • unoccupied floors (1st to 19th floors),      
  • business floors (from the 20th to the 63rd, then from the 65th to the 88th floors) housing notably the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ magazines: the "Conde Nast" group, which occupies a large part of the floors – but also advertising agencies, investment consulting firms, etc,
  • a sky lobby on the 64th floor (a tiered lobby where you can switch from an express lift that stops only at the top, to a lift that stops on every floor),
  • five floors dedicated to housing technical and security equipment (from the 103rd to the 108th),
  • two floors for transmission accessories, as the skyscraper serves as a transmitter (89th and 90th floors),
  • technical floors (91st and 99th),
  • an observation platform (100th to 102nd floors).

When is the best time to go up to the observatory?

freedom tower

The best photos can be taken at midday. You will not be bothered by the sun, which will be at its zenith ☀️

If you go in the morning, the sun will be on the east side of the building, so there will be some glare and backlighting, which will spoil the photos of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. On the other hand, you will be able to take great pictures of the Statue of Liberty and New Jersey. 

If you're not sure whether to visit during the day or at night, get a ticket that gets you there at least an hour and a half before sunset. That way you can enjoy both the daytime view and the spectacle of New York City at night, with all the lights playing on the city. So you get two visits for the price of one. Be warned though: you obviously won't be the only one to have thought of this! 😉


If visibility is poor on the day of your visit, the observatory's See Forever programme allows you to obtain another ticket valid for 14 days after your first visit 👍

Take amazing pictures from the One World Observatory

take pictures one world observatory

The best time to visit the One World Observatory and take nice pictures is at noon and in the evening. In the morning, you may be bothered by the sun ☀️

To take beautiful pictures through the glass and not be bothered by any reflections, keep your camera as close to the glass as possible. At night, place your camera on the ground.

To get a nice shot of Manhattan and the Empire State Building, go to the north side of the observatory (behind the City Pulse screen), where you will find a small bay window: this is a perfect spot because you will be facing the skyscraper 📸

Useful information

Tips for the visit

  • The site is accessible to people with reduced mobility. You can also bring small children in pushchairs. Prams must be folded up when using the escalators and lifts.  
  • Pets are not allowed, except for service animals.
  • You can rent an iPad for $15. It will give you access to an app that will give you a lot of information about 1WTC. It will tell you which monuments are around you.
  • Professional cameras and video cameras are not allowed. Selfie poles are allowed as long as you don't disturb anyone. 
  • You will not be allowed to take food or drink with you. But be aware that on the 101st floor there are two cafés: 'One Café' and 'One Mix' (open daily from 11.30 a.m. to 10 p.m.), where you can relax with a drink and a snack (make sure you have your ticket for the observatory). There is also a smart restaurant, the "One Dine" (reservations are required to eat there).
  • Minors under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult.

How to get to the One World Trade Center (1WTC)?

one world trade center

The One World Trade Center is located in Lower Manhattan. The exact address of the tower is 285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10007.

The main entrance is at the corner of West Street and Vesey Street. The best way to get there is by public transportation.

If you wish to take the New York City underground, take the:

  • A or C lines and get off at Chambers Street station,
  • E line to the World Trade Center station,
  • Line 1 to Rector Street Station,
  • Lines 2, 3, 4 or 5 to Fulton Street Station,
  • R or W lines and get off at Cortland Street station.

By bus, take the:

  • M20 to Vesey St./North End Ave.,
  • M55 to Broadway St./Cortland St.

Please note that if you go with your rented car, the One World Observatory does not have a car park. You can however book valet parking through the One World Observatory's official valet service, Brookfield Place, which is located at 225 Liberty Street.

What are the opening hours?

The One World Observatory is open every day of the year:

  • from 2 January to 5 January: from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
  • from 6 January to 7 January: from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.,
  • from 8 January to 28 January: from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.,
  • from 29 January to 13 February: from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,
  • from 14 February to 15 February: from 9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.,
  • from 16 February to 4 May: from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,
  • from 5 May to 7 September: from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
  • from 8 September to 17 December: from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,
  • from 18 December to 3 January: from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Opening hours are adjusted on public holidays:

  • 1 January: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.,

  • 4th July (Independence Day): 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.,

  • 11 September: 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.,

  • Thanksgiving: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.,

  • Black Friday: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.,

  • 24 December: 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.,

  • 25 December: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.,

  • 31 December: 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Please note that when the doors close at 9 p.m., it is possible to enter the observatory until 8:45 p.m. And when the doors close at 10 p.m., you have until 9:15 p.m. to buy an entrance ticket.

We are coming to the end of this article! I hope you enjoyed it and that you now know more about the visit and history of One World Trade Center and the One World Observatory 😊 Do leave a comment if you have any questions! 😉

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