The View from the Top

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For day two of the grand New York tour (the speed round edition); sleeping in was the way to start the day, followed by coffee and donuts. We caught the subway across the city and climbed off our train and into the center of The Oculus; a truly unique building located in the midst of New York. The building is…not surprisingly, shaped like…an eye…and also serves as a shopping mall and transportation hub, located just next to the September 11th Memorial and Museum.

After taking a quick turn around the Oculus, we made our way over to the One World Observatory to head 102 floors up…up…up…above the city! The day was overcast and upon arriving on the 102nd floor, my sister and I guessed that the video screens against the wall would open to reveal the view of the city – and it did – more or less. Unfortunately a cloud bank had just rolled in and so there wasn’t much to see…besides the clouds…

I feel like my Dad’s reaction at the end of the video is pretty priceless – what else can you do but laugh?

Happily, within the first fifteen minutes of being at the top, the clouds parted, blue skies appeared and of course, the view stretched on for miles. I’m sure there’s a good reason why the One World Observatory’s tagline is “See Forever” – because you can. We made a full loop around the top and snapped pictures from every angle possible – you’re being spared what could have been a post with easily 50 pictures or more. I’m serious. We decided that while we were at the top of the world; so to speak, we might as well settle in and eat lunch. I had one of the best hamburgers that I’ve had in a very long time, with delicious fries and house made ketchup. Everything was so yummy!

We spent almost three hours on top of the world – which is impressive for me; I absolutely hate heights. Of course, perhaps being firmly ensconced in the midst of what is supposedly one of the world’s strongest built structures helped? When we finally descended back to Earth, we had about an hour to pass before we were able to enter the September 11th Memorial and Museum, so my sister and Dad walked over to the New York Stock Exchange while my Mom and I grabbed a coffee and tea to sip on for a bit.

The September 11th Memorial and Museum – I don’t know that I can accurately put that into words. It’s so important to remember the hard moments of history along with the good…but it’s just that; hard. The Museum is situated between the fountains that mark World Trade Tower One and World Trade Tower Two and inside the museum, the steel beams and supports that were sunk deep into the ground years ago to build the towers are still visible. A staircase has been preserved; you walk alongside this staircase having read the instructions given to the people fleeing the crumbling towers on September 11th: “get down the steps as fast as you can and just run away, run away from here….”

The Final Column stands stark in the midst of an open room – the final piece of the tower debris to be removed from the site in May of 2002; the column is marked with names, dates, missing posters and mementos of people who still have not been identified. Twisted chunks of steel, bent and hardened under the impact of the collapse are suspended from the ceiling. A window from one of the planes, a fire truck dented and torn parked in the midst of the building and mementos and gifts from across the world stand on display as a testament to that terrible day in September.

Our visit to the museum seemed a bit rushed – there was so much to see and the crowds made our entry time of 3:30 a bit delayed – we saw as much as we could in the time we had and had a quick bit of time to pop over and peek at the fountain marking the South Tower. Earlier in the day, the North Tower fountain had been turned off but in the evening light, the water cascading over the rim and passed the lights was breathtaking. Names are etched into the sides of the fountain and here and there a rose or a flag had been placed within the grooves of a name.

We hopped on the subway and made our way quickly across the city and back toward Times Square and Broadway for our final “appointment” of the evening: Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theater. We sat on the front row of the balcony and before the show began, my fear of heights was starting to get the best of me…but once the curtain rose, I was transported to a whole new world (pun completely intended) and forgot all about my seat high above the stage. The genie stole the show with his humor, his voice, his costumes and his glittery bald head and my sister and I are still trying to figure out how in the world they made the magic carpet fly…and there were not strings attached…

The play was truly a magical experience – I love nothing better than a Broadway show. After the play we grabbed a late supper at Planet Hollywood before walking drearily back to the hotel; it was almost 1:00 before sleep arrived, so I think we were getting into that whole experience of “the city that never sleeps”. Tuesday was the only full day we had in the city and I think we made the most of it…without a doubt, we made the most of it.



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