Walking in… New York – Day 1: One World Trade Center, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Financial District


I woke up at around 10 in the morning to account for the previous day’s sleepless travel and adjusting to the new timezone. I did not have a clear plan in mind for each day, but knew that today I wanted to head down to the World Trade Center area, explore and follow my nose from there. Here’s what I did…

Walking: The Jane Hotel to One World Trade Center


I left my hotel and, being next to the river already, followed it south towards One WTC. It didn’t take long for the tower to appear in front of me.


A straightforward walk south deviated only when I decided to leave the river behind me and come inland a little to see what lay ahead.


Eventually, I was close enough to One World Trade Center that I had to raise my head to look up at it rather than simply look straight ahead. It’s quite an impressive building.

Around WTC

One World Trade Center itself stands at an impressive 546m. Like many people, I remember clearly where I was on the day that the original twin towers were struck, and I knew that I wanted to visit this area, both to get an idea of what the area looked like previously and also to see in what direction it was moving today. The observatory at the top of the new tower had only been open for three years (at the time of writing), so what better place to look over New York for the first time?


Before going up the tower, I wanted to explore the area surrounding the tower; namely, the memorials and how the new complex is going to look when it is all finished.


The memorial fountains were, as expected, very poignant. An appropriate balance between something aesthetically pleasing while showing the magnitude of what had once stood here. To see two such vast, empty spaces in such a busy part of such a busy city, the intended effect of the memorials comes across.

In addition to this, people are invited to touch the memorials, encouraging people to engage with the fountains with more senses than just sight. The foundation responsible for maintaining the museum and the memorials also places a flower on the names of those lost on their respective dates of birth; a way to keep the memories of those lost alive today.



Another new addition to this area is Liberty Park, which is now home to the globe that once stood at the feet of the twin towers. The now battered sphere serves as a reminder of the massive damage that was inflicted upon the area back in 2001.


The two pictures above of ‘The Sphere’ have been taken from Wikipedia.


The World Trade Center complex should be visited by everyone – it is the essential part of any tourist’s trip to New York and with the museum and the new observatory, half of a day could easily be spent in the area.


Going up 1 WTC

Opened in 2015, the new observatory is one of the newest viewing platforms in the city.


I have to admit initially feeling a little jarred at the lights and the style as you enter the base of the tower. Upon purchasing a ticket you are directed to airport-style security, after which there are various lights and screens centred around a (presumably seasonal) theme. In December 2018, the theme was ‘Winter Onederland’.


You walk through a series of moving images and go through a ‘cave’ (not sure how it would affect those with claustrophobia – it isn’t particularly cramped, but walking through a ‘cave’ knowing there are probably 104 or so floors above you might seem a little unusual to some.


It would be interesting to know what the themes are at other times of years and whether the theme rotates as the seasons pass or whether there are new themes every few months.

After a few minutes, you reach a lift (oops, elevator). Befitting of a brand new, ultra-modern skyscraper, the lift up to the observation deck is a journey in itself…

The video, showing the birth and development of New York, should be savoured. While I filmed the video above, I merely held my camera, ensuring that I was looking at all four walls of the elevator as we climbed. You don’t want to miss it.

As you arrive at the top, your group is stretched across another barrier facing a screen that shows more moving images of New York. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one itching to see the views at this point and the attraction so far had seemed more like a theme park. That said, the effect offered once this final video had finished was really special.


*Spoiler – avoid this paragraph if you would prefer to leave this part as a surprise*

Once this video finishes and the music reaches a crescendo, the screen raises up like the curtains of a theatre, leaving you facing a large portion of New York. It spreads out in front of you with beautiful clarity, and with the low, winter sun, I was really treated to something special on this day.

*End of spoilers!*

The One World Observatory offers a 360 degree view of New York over two floors. There are the usual gift shops and


One final video…

*Spoiler – avoid this paragraph if you would prefer to leave this part as a surprise*

Once this video finishes and the music reaches a crescendo, the screen raises up like the curtains of a theatre, leaving you facing a large portion of New York. It spreads out in front of you with beautiful clarity, and with the low, winter sun, I was really treated to something special on this day.

*End of spoilers!*



The One World Observatory offers a 360 degree view of New York over two floors. There are the usual gift shops and novelties (Santa Claus happened to be there), but the views really are amazing. I don’t know whether it’s down to modern technology or hard-working cleaners but the windows were extremely clear and there were very few reflections when taking pictures of the city. As mentioned before, due to the low winter sun, the conditions for taking pictures were perfect looking anywhere but approximately south/southwest.

Some reflections through the windows due to the low winter sun.

P1140310P1140311P1140314P1140315The views were extraordinary. The whole observatory has been really well executed and it would be easy to spend hours up there. They also offer an optional extra in the form of an iPad and audioguide, which gives you information on all the attractions in New York and will even fly you across to them on the screen so you can see inside. For both of these reasons, a trip up to the observatory is ideal for the start of a person’s visit to New York or indeed the end, where you can hunt down and check off all the things you have visited!



The lift (*elevator) ride back down is just as nice as the ride up, instead taking you on a flight out of the tower, around the city and then back into the base and the cave from which you started your journey up.


While most people seemed to enjoy their time in the observatory, it clearly took its toll on Santa, who decided to check out early…

A possible allusion to new twin towers?

P1140358Walking to Battery Park


A short walk further south from the WTC complex takes you to Battery Park. One of the nerdier reasons for me wanting to visit Battery Park and Castle Clinton was because one of my favourite all-time computer games is Deus Ex, and the early game is set around these locations.


Like in Deus Ex, a trip to Liberty Island was clearly necessary, so I bought a ticket to Liberty and Ellis Island and sailed across soon after.

The Islands

A ticket leaving Battery Park for a boat that stops at Liberty Island and Ellis Island costs $18.50 (as of December 2018). Entrance to Liberty Island and the Ellis Island museum are free with this ticket.

Buy your tickets here, inside Castle Clinton

P1140364One fairly short (but nippy!) ride later and you approach the first stop: Liberty Island.



Walking a lap of Liberty Island took about 15-20 minutes, allowing enough time to take it all in and take any number of snaps! As a solo traveller, I was also asked to take a number of pictures for other people.

With boats running approximately every 20 minutes, it was only a short wait before the next boat stopping at Ellis Island.

Ellis Island, with its deep links to immigration and America’s immigrant heritage, is often a subject of my classes in my teen English lessons, therefore it was important for me to see it first hand.

An extract from New Headway Advanced – Student’s Book (2nd ed.)

Ellis Island is worth a visit if you are in any doubt over how important immigration is and was to the United States of America. It also provides an insight into how life was for these people, where they came from, and the impact of this movement.P1140452P1140453P1140454P1140456P1140457


Back in Manhattan


With the sun slowly setting and my hunger growing, I decided I would head back towards town. I remembered at this point that a friend had recommended a bar to me that was located nearby, and as I happened to be very close, I paid it a visit.


The Dead Rabbit is a wonderful little bar located on Water Street. Clearly I am not the only person who enjoyed it as it has been consistently rated as one of the best bars not only in New York but in the world.


One tasty burger and one tasty IPA later, I headed back out into town, where the sun had well and truly gone down.

Walking Back (via the Financial District)


With Wall Street just up the road, I headed in that direction and explored the area, admiring the Christmas lights along the way.


Heading up Wall Street past the New York Stock Exchange and up to Broadway, I decided to pay one more visit to the World Trade Center complex to see it at night.


As in the daytime, the World Trade Center complex is definitely worth seeing in the night. As it was Christmas, the lighting was even more festive than usual and the PATH transport hub also looked great in its illuminated form.

Santa and Rudolph had clearly moved in to the lower levels of 1 WTC!

Feeling somewhat tired and ready for some sleep, I walked around the World Trade Center a little more and headed back up north to the hotel.


See Also:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: