Wednesday 24 June 2015

Task 33: Visit the One World Observatory in New York

When I started putting together my Sixty at 60 list a few months ago, I knew that I'd be visiting New York with Andrew and Lucy in June 2015, and since it’s one of my favourite places in the world (and indeed Lucy's favourite place in the world), it seemed only right and proper to include an NY-based task, with the two provisos that it must be a new experience for me and one that would be a fitting tribute to the city.  I thought of taking a trip on the Staten Island ferry….or walking the length of the Brooklyn Bridge….or climbing to the top of the Statue of Liberty. Then I spotted an article in the Times reporting that the Observatory at One World Trade Center would be opening to the public on 29 May, and had a light bulb moment. On each of our weekend trips to New York since 9/11, Andrew and I have made a point of going to the World Trade Center site to watch it regaining its momentum and sense of identity. And so it seemed a fitting task indeed to visit the One World Observatory and celebrate the completion of OneWTC. Within ten minutes of reading the Times article, I had booked tickets for us on 21 June.

We woke up three days ago to the sight of rain, mist and murk in mid-town Manhattan. The weather forecast indicated heavy showers at 11.30 am, the very time at which we were due to be crossing the threshold of OneWTC. However, just as we emerged from the subway, the breeze picked up, the clouds miraculously parted and there soaring high above us was OneWTC shimmering in the sunshine. 

We felt a whoosh of excitement - maybe we'd see more than just a blanket of soggy clouds from the top after all? Once inside the building we joined a long but fast moving queue for the lift, where we watched an amazing 30 second potted history of New York whilst whizzing up 102 floors to the Observatory. We all piled out of the lift and stood in front of a screen to be shown a slickly compiled film of some typical NY montages. Then the screen finally rolled back and oh my word - there was New York's skyline in all its sunlit glory. It was quite a goose-bumpy moment and everyone broke into spontaneous applause (I felt thoroughly American).

The views from the observatory were amazing - the skyscrapers of Manhattan looked like Lego building blocks, tour helicopters buzzed like flies below us, the Statue of Liberty was a tiny figure in the distance, and the river Hudson snaked its way around the city. Every view seemed to demand a thousand and one photos - but here's the most important one, providing you with evidence that I really was there!

 It was a very special experience and I found I had a big smile on my face from start to finish - New Yorkers must be truly proud of what they have achieved

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