After our crazy day the previous day in Washington DC, we took our Big Apple Day 5 a little slower. In fact, we only did three things on our 5th day in The City: the World Trade Center Sites, the American Museum of Natural History, and saw a musical.
Our visit to the World Trade Center sites was actually split into two different days. As I previously mentioned, we actually visited the 9/11 Memorial the day we arrived in New York. Our room wasn’t ready upon arrival, so we headed downtown to the memorial.
To get to the Memorial, we took the subway down from our hotel to Cortlandt Station. From there we walked over to the World Trade Center Transportation Center, otherwise known as the Oculus.
As impressive as the Oculus is on the inside, it is equally impressive from the outside. Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t get a shot from an angle in which I could capture the entire structure.
From the Oculus it was a short walk over to the Memorial’s North Tower.
I’ve seen the memorial in pictures before, but they just don’t do it justice. The sheer size of them are overwhelming… And when you reflect on all that’s happened here, the emotional impact is enormous.
Going in the morning isn’t a particularly good from a photography standpoint, though, but the crowds were light. Unfortunately the South Tower memorial wasn’t running during our visit either.
One World Observatory
After visiting the Memorial, we headed over to One World Trade Center to check out the observatory.
The entrance to the observatory is not the same as the other entrances to the building. You actually have to walk around to the other side of the building to get to the entrance.
The line outside was fairly long, but moved quickly. Once inside there were more lines, but we got to the ticket booth fairly quickly. Admission is around $35, and World Elite MasterCard holders are supposed to get complimentary expedited entry. The ticket agent that assisted us, however, didn’t honor that and was actually kind of rude.
Anyway, from the ticket booth, you’re directed down to the security check point. Like most other attractions in NYC, you’ll go through an airport-style security screening. From there, those without expedited entry are routed through a corridor that’s supposed to look like natural NY bedrock and the building’s foundation. Then you’re ushered into an elevator that zips you up to the observatory. The elevator actually shows an animated history of NY too.
Once you arrive at the observatory, you need to watch a film, get your picture taken, and listen to some people talk with a interactive tour tablet sales pitch. After you’ve completed those three things, you’re free to explore the observation deck.
The views from the observation deck are, unsurprisingly, breathtaking. The views of The City and beyond are unparalleled, though I do think the views of New York and its landmarks are a little better.
So the site we actually visited on day 5 was the 9/11 Museum. We headed to the Museum first thing in the morning, arriving around 9am. The lines at that time, especially for CityPass entry were nearly non-existent. Like the observatory, once you purchase your entry, you’ll need to go through airport-style security. From there it’s an escalator ride down to the coat/bag check, and then further down into the museum.
In a way, that first escalator is pretty erie. Through the windows you can see One World Trade Center framed by columns from the Twin Towers. We checked our bags and coats at the desk, and headed further down into the museum. The first landing has a few artifacts, like a commemorative plaque from the World Trade Center dedication.
There’s also a great view of the main museum floor from the upper level, especially of the Last Column.
Even the escalator down to the main museum floor itself parallels the Survivor Stairs.
At the bottom of the escalator is a huge tile mural.
Like the Memorial at ground level, the Museum is split into the North and South Towers. One of which contains photos and names of all of the victims, while the other holds an enormous display of artifacts displayed as a timeline of events. Photography of the artifacts within the center of the tower is prohibited, but photos of the perimeter. The perimeter displays are larger objects, machinery, and structural elements.
We spent somewhere between two and three hours taking in the 9/11 Museum, including a stop in the gift shop. I’d be lying if I said the museum didn’t leave me cause me to tear up a few times. It is a sobering experience, and is a powerful reminder that our freedom isn’t free.
World Trade Center Sites Final Thoughts
While I was in NYC in November 2001, and saw Ground Zero in its raw state, seeing current Memorial and Museum had a much more profound impact on me. And it’s also somewhere that anyone is able to visit should visit. Just plan on spending a few hours there to take your time. Oh, and go early. By the time we were wrapping up our visit, the crowds got HUGE. The experience was much better during the quiet lull of the early morning.
A BIG APPLE HOLIDAY ADVENTURE
- Alaska Airlines HNL-SEA
- Alaska Air N Terminal Lounge + SEA-JFK
- Renaissance New York Midtown
- Getting Around in New York
- Restaurant Review: Noreetuh
- CityPass New York City
- Big Apple Day 2: Rockefeller, Central Park, Times Square
- Review: Michale White’s Marea
- Review: Sushi Nakazawa
- Review: Jane Restaurant
- Big Apple Day 3: Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge
- Shake Shack
- Review: Ivan Ramen New York
- Review: Amtrak Northeast Regional NYC-DC
- DC Day Trip: National Zoo, Natural History, Aviation
- Big Apple Day 5: World Trade Center Sites