The view from One World Trade Centre, New York

A love affair with tall buildings

A love affair with tall buildings

I love a good tall tower and I love heights.

I could stay up a tall tower on a clear day for ages, just looking across the landscape and topography of the ground beneath me. I think I was possibly a bird in a previous life. That, and my desire to eat worms out of the ground.

No, I’m joking.

Am I?


I have made it a bit of a mission to visit the tallest place in all the cities I’ve visited recently. When I went to Canada (I’ll write about this at some point,) we went up the CN Tower in Toronto and then climbed Mount Royal in Montreal. When we went to Berlin, we went up the TV Tower, which wasn’t all that tall but it did rotate which was fancy and confusing and nauseating all in one.

So imagine my delight when we decided to go to New York. THE HOME OF TALL TOWERS! I have already written about how we went up the Top of the Rock, the observatory bit of the Rockerfellar Centre, but we were fortunate enough to get free tickets to go up to One World Observatory – the observatory bit of the One World Trade Centre. Once again shout out to W Hotel Downtown for this – up high W Hotel Downtown ✋🏻 (pun definitely intended).

One World Trade Centre from Battery Park, New York City

For those of you that don’t know, One World Trade Centre (Freedom Tower – I alternate between the two names) was built in the aftermath of 9/11 and our guide at the observatory told us that the reason they built it about 300ft taller than the original World Trade Centres was because “the only response to bullies is to stand taller.”

Because we got free tickets, we had booked in advance for 4pm on the Saturday. We decided to spend the afternoon in Chinatown beforehand.

Chinatown, New York City

Here’s an aside: Chinatown is terrifying. The streets of New York are generally very wide, and although there are a lot of people it’s sort of okay because it’s built for it. NOT CHINATOWN. There are barely any pavements so you’re frequently leaping out of the way of a car, and we tried to go to this restaurant that featured in Lonely Planet but we got there and there was a massive crowd of people outside and NO DISCERNABLE QUEUING SYSTEM. We ended up going to another restaurant and when you get in they just come over and offer you dim sum which greatly confused me. It was nice, but I was very stressed by this point about the lack of queue and influx of people trying to offer me things, so the dim sum just tasted like anxiety.

Anyway, after Chinatown-anxiety-gate we headed back to the Freedom Tower for our 4pm ascent. It was raining, but I just sort of assumed it would be fine. We got to the Freedom Tower, and it looked like this.

A cloudy day at One World Trade Centre, New York City

There was legit a cloud SOLELY AROUND THE TOP OF THE FREEDOM TOWER. That’s how tall it is. It forms its own clouds.

I guess this type of thing must happen reasonably frequently because when we got to the entrance they were offering to exchange tickets for a different day, because the visibility was ‘literally zero’.

Bagel for breakfast at Battery Park, New York City

Fast forward to the next day and after a hearty breakfast of bagels, coffee and cupcakes (Sprinkles!) we were delighted to see that the weather was BEAUTIFUL. It was like one of those crisp winter days where it’s bright sunshine but lovely and crisp and cold. My fave weather.

You have to walk through like a theme-park style rock cavern to get to the lifts. It did look a bit like something you’d walk through to get to Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park, and there were really annoying people in front of us who kept stopping to take photos. Of fake rock. I thought they were American but no, they were English. I was ashamed.

We got into the lift (eventually – the annoying English people were taking photos of a lift shaft or something idk) and it was the COOLEST LIFT EVER. The entire lift is made up of like a big TV – that is not the technical term but w/e – and you can basically view the development of New York City as you ascend into the sky. TBH it’s worth going for the lift alone, and I don’t even like lifts.

Once we got to the top – I won’t spoil it for you – but there’s an incred presentation again about the development of New York and life in the city today. Then at the end, a big – and very impressive – surprise. OH I WANT TO TELL YOU. But I won’t.

I bloody love a tall tower. Freedom Tower is the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere, and when you’re up there, it feels like it. You can see across 4 states, and the good thing about the location is that because it’s Downtown, you get a view of Midtown that you can’t get when you’re in the Empire State or Rockerfellar. You’re so high up that everything on the ground looks fake, and you can’t see people. It’s so peaceful. I LOVE IT. They offer iPads where you can move it around and it shows you what you’re looking at, but I’m a strong independent woman who don’t need no iPad (plus it cost $20) so I just spend my entire time with my face pressed against the glass like ooooooooooooooooooooooh. I also bought a mug. It is now my life ambition to get a job on the 100th floor of the Freedom Tower.

Did I mention I loved it? Here are some of the 2853829 pictures I took.

The view from One World Trade Centre, New York

A view from One World Observatory, New York City

A view from One World Observatory, New York City

3 thoughts on “A love affair with tall buildings

  1. Nice photos Tilpool, China town looks very interesting, and just look at that sky! wow! I don’t know, but doesn’t the sky look somehow bigger than back home, (like everything else in America does).
    Like you, I share a certain anxiety about lifts, (irrational I know), but how does one get to the top of high buildings without them?
    More photos please, well done, keep up the good work.

  2. Wow this gives me New York blues on a whole new level! I wanna go back right now and I want to whizz to the top of the Freedom Tower in one of the cool lifts!
    When we went to New York on holiday, it was the first day the new World Trade Centre had opened and our tour guide told us about them building it taller than the original world trade centre and the reason for this – so empowering.

    Great post and great pics!

    Kirsty xo.

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