Two places that everyone that travels to New York City must see are the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the One World Trade Center Observatory. Hands down the best museum and the best observatory I have ever been to. I was absolutely blown away by how well both of them were put together.
Neither is too expensive. The museum is $24 for adults and $18 for college students. The observatory is $32 for adults, which makes it cheaper than the Top of the Rock and The Empire State Building. But the experience, is priceless.
When you first enter the museum you are looking at pictures of the Twin Towers and hearing the calls to 911 and eye-witnesses telling the story of what they saw. It’s an eerie hall that leads you out into a larger area that breaks off into smaller rooms with different displays. In the large area you can see the rock foundation of the World Trade Center and the last standing support beam that has been signed by the first responders.
Each room that breaks off from that main hall tells a different story of what happened that day. The largest room brings you through the day tracking every event in chronological order. It plays the news clips from that day of Matt Lauer (who still has all of his hair in the clip) first reporting on the attacks just after the first tower was struck. Many of the rooms suggest viewers be 18 and older due to the graphic images and content.
The experience is heavy and heartbreaking, but at the same time you leave with a new found pride in New York City. You realize how much the city has been through and how well they pulled together at a time of extreme chaos and loss.
The observatory is a much lighter note. It shows you what an amazing structure has been built in the wake of such a horrible tragedy. It is not just an observatory, but actually an entire experience. You are ushered in to watch an opening movie that shows you all the great places in New York. Then you take the fastest elevator ride of your life (why can’t they all be that fast) with screens on every side showing you a visual history of how the city has been built up since it’s original settlement. Finally, the observatory deck.
The views are insane. It’s a little hard to get pictures without the glare of random strangers in the window because there is no outside observatory deck, but you’re also safe from the insane winds (you have to choose your battles). You can see all of Manhattan and even a lot of Williamsburg from the other side and of course Lady Liberty herself doing her traditional pose for the camera around the other side.
The museum, the memorial and the observatory are a must see in New York. They teach you not only about the tragedy that happened, but also about the strength of the city. They show you how the city remembers those who were lost and how the city has persevered. It is a truly amazing experience.