This post is about the Freedom Tower in NYC, how to get tickets, discounts and tours. The Freedom Tower, officially known as One World Observatory, opened to the public in 2015, after 14 years of anticipation and it was worth the wait. Visiting the top of the Freedom Tower and its observation deck is an unforgettable experience. This guide provides the information you need to plan your visit including how to get Freedom Tower tickets, visiting hours, and admission prices.
TIP: CitySights is offering One World Observatory tickets for just $28/adult, a $6 discount (limited time). They also are offering a combination bus tour, boat tour, and observatory for just $63 adult. If you can only visit one of the skyscraper observation decks, read our post Which to visit: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock or the Freedom Tower.
The Freedom Tower’s address is 285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10007 and it’s located in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan at the corner of West and Vesey Streets. The entrance is located on the West Plaza alongside West Street at the Northwest corner of the World Trade Center site and is bordered by Vesey Street to the North.
There are numerous subways nearby as well as a few buses. You can use link to Google Maps to get exact directions from your starting point to One World Trade Center.
• A, C, 1, 2, 3 to Chambers Street
• A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4, or 5 to Fulton Street
• 2 or 3 to Park Place
• E to World Trade Center
• R to Rector Street
• R to Cortlandt Street
• 1 to Rector Street
• M5 Southbound: get off at Broadway and Thames Street
• M5 Northbound: get off at Trinity Place and Rector Street
• M20 Southbound: get off on South End Avenue between Liberty Street and Albany Street
• M22 Southbound: get off on Vesey Street between North End Ave. and West Street
You might want to combine your visit to the Freedom Tower with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and National 9/11 Museum. Seeing all three sights makes for a well-rounded and deeper understanding of the events of September 11, 2001. The Freedom Tower is the embodiment of inspiration, as it soars to great heights. The Memorial pays tribute to the victims of the tragedy while the 9/11 Museum acknowledges the great acts of heroism on that day. This post has information for the Museum and Memorial, as well as suggestions for tours of the Freedom Tower area that you can combine with your trip to the Tower and its observatory.
The Freedom Tower’s observatory’s official name is One World Observatory. You may hear it referred to by different names based on its association with past events and locations: the 911 Observatory, the World Trade Center (WTC) Observatory, the 911 Freedom Tower. Whatever you call it, this tower is like no other in the world. A visit to its sky-high observatory is simply unforgettable. The tour of the Freedom Tower is self-guided, but there are guided tours of the memorial outside that include tickets to the Freedom Tower observatory. The Freedom Tower is also a stop on both our Lower Manhattan and 911 Memorial GPS audio tours.
Upon entering the building, you pass through an airport-style security check. (Bring as few belongings as possible to speed up this process. Be prepared to empty your pockets, remove your belt and walk through a metal detector. Your belongings will be screened and obviously, weapons are prohibited, as are large backpacks, professional camera or video gear and several other items. Food and drink are not allowed. Click here for complete list of prohibited items.
After security, you go down an escalator and enter a series of halls with looping videos. The first one is “Voices” sharing stories of those who built One World Trade Center. Next is “Foundations, a narrow hallway lined with fake bedrock to give you a sense of just how solid a foundation was needed to have built the Freedom Tower. You then take the Sky-Pod elevators where you will climb 1,250 feet in less than 60 seconds! If you have a VIP entry ticket (see below under Tickets) you can go bypass the walkway experience and go directly to the elevators. This is great if you are in a rush, but some may enjoy the entire experience.
The Sky-Pod elevators have LED screens on all sides showing a 47-second time-lapse video of 500 years of New York City history from a wide open green land mass to a tiny Dutch settlement, then a small city and then the rapid transformation into a modern metropolis. (SPOILER ALERT: If you plan to go to the top of the tower, don’t watch the video below and spoil the experience for yourself. For those who are afraid of heights and know they will never go to the top, enjoy the ride!)
The elevator arrives in the blink of an eye to the 102nd floor where you are led into the See Forever Theater, a long room lined with panels on which a two-minute video about New York City is shown. At the end of the video, the panels disappear into the ceiling and floor to reveal the breathtaking view to the north and east of the tower. Since the 102nd floor is reserved for private events, you are led down to the 101st floor where a snack café, a bar, and a fine dining restaurant are located.
But you didn’t come up to eat, you came for the views. Finally, on the 100th floor, you will be mesmerized by the 360-degree panoramic view of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. On a clear day, you can see about 50 miles in any direction.
You can walk over the Sky Portal, a 14-foot-wide circular disc with screens that use real-time video feeds to simulate the to simulate the view from 100 stories up in the air. Also live guides will introduce you to the “City Pulse” interactive skyline concierge with information about the city and its landmarks.
Plan to spend from 45 minutes to an hour for your visit. Of course, you can stay longer staring at the view that goes on forever. Or grab a snack the cafe or bar and visit the gift shop, but remember there is so much more of New York City to see at street level!
If you loved the view from the Freedom Tower, you might want to check out one of the other observation decks in the city, the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, which both have great views that include the Freedom Tower. If you can only visit one of the skyscraper observation decks, read our post Which to visit: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock or the Freedom Tower.
Below are the prices quoted on the One World Observatory’s website, though there are many options to avoid paying full price.
The Freedom Tower Observatory is open 7 days a week all year round.
This ticket is the least expensive option. Standard Admission tickets are “timed entry” (you must select a specific date and time). If you are good at sticking to schedules, this ticket is a good choice. If you are dead set on a specific time and that time slot is sold out you can opt to purchase a flex ticket, listed below.
Be sure to arrive 15 minutes early. If you miss your time slot, there is no guarantee you will be able to visit the Tower. Late arrivals will be accommodated based on capacity.
$34 for an adult (13-64) ($28 with CitySights)
$32 for a senior (65+)
$28 for youth (6-12)
Children 5 and under are free.
Note: If you choose to go at peak hours, between 6:15 pm – 7:15 pm, tickets cost an additional $5 each.
Flexible Ticket Options
If you aren’t sure before-hand what time you want to visit, these options might be better for you. But flexibility and spontaneity will cost you: at least $22 or more. All below tickets give you VIP expedited entry so you can bypass the General Entry line. You will also have access to a direct pathway to the elevators and can skip the walkways with videos described above.
There are several ways to obtain discounted tickets, either as part of a tour bus combination ticket, or part of a tourist discount pass or as part of an organized tour that also includes the 9/11 Museum and/or Memorial. Some options may work better for you than others. It really depends on what else you plan on visiting while in New York City. Some walking tour companies offer tours of the 9/11 Memorial that also include tickets to the Freedom Tower’s observation deck.
Save 20% on an adult ticket and 13% on a senior ticket through CitySights.
CitySights operates hop-on, hop-off buses and boats as well as discounted packages. This single ticket option ($28/Adult/Senior) is a straight-up discount. No other purchase is necessary. Learn more.
Purchase a ticket as part of a bus tour package.
Several bus tour companies offer combination tickets that combine bus, boat, and attractions, such as One World Observatory. We’ve listed the best value option below, but be sure to read our bus tour comparison page to learn more about other companies’ options.
Purchase a tourist discount pass
There are several tourist discount passes that offer you unlimited access to 40-60 tours and attraction tickets all in one single discounted price. Other passes let you choose à la carte, while others offer 3, 5 or 7 options. Savings could be anywhere from 20% to 50%, it really depends on which pass you choose. The passes that include One World Observatory are the Sightseeing Pass Unlimited, the Sightseeing Pass Flexible. Several bus companies also offer passes.
Check the official One World Observatory promotion page.
As of 2016, the following offers were valid:
The 9/11 Memorial is free of charge and open to the public daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Read our detailed post about Visiting the Memorial, such as where to enter, what sights you will see and what tours are available.
There is a ticket charge for the National September 11th Museum and we highly recommended you purchase museum tickets in advance. Our Guide on how to visit the National 9/11 Museum will give you all the information you need to plan your visit. Our guide puts all the information in one place including details on how to obtain tickets, directions to get there, history of the Museum and related tours and nearby activities.
We also have advice on how you can find ticket discounts or even go for free! For example, admission to the museum is included in some tourist passes such as the New York Pass or the CityPass booklet. Take a look at our post comparing the different tourist attractions passes in NYC and if buying one is right for you. Be sure to read our post on Free Tuesdays at the 911 Museum and save yourself a bundle.
September 11, 2001 – The two towers of the original World Trade Center collapse as a result of a terrorist attack. More than 3,000 people lost their lives.
May 30, 2002 – WTC site cleanup officially ends. More than 1 million tons of debris and rubble had been removed.
July 4, 2004 – Foundation cornerstone One World Trade Center is laid. It was inscribed with the words “To honor and remember those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom.”
July 2006 – Construction on the foundation begins.
May 10, 2013 – The final piece of the spire was installed. One World Trade Center becomes the fourth-tallest building in the world and the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
November 3, 2014 – One World Trade Center opens to tenants. Among the first tenants to move in was Condé Nast, mass media conglomerate. They occupy floors 20 to 44.
May 28, 2015 – The observatory at One World Trade Center officially opens to the public.
Here is a time lapse video covering eight years of construction in 2 minutes
Design, Delays, Completion
In less than a year after the tragedy of 9/11, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC) became the overseer of the entire rebuilding process. In 2002 the LMDC called for proposals, but the public rejected the first round of designs. In February 2003, renowned architect Daniel Libeskind was chosen to design a skyscraper that was to be called the Freedom Tower. (Libeskind is the architect of the highly-acclaimed Jewish Museum in Berlin). His primary strength was in creative design, not structural design, so another architect, David Childs, was brought on to work with Libeskind. During the ongoing design process, the two architects clashed. Eventually, Childs’ plan overran Libeskind’s, though many elements of his design were retained, including his idea for the symbolic height of the tower.
Other major delays in construction were due to conflicts between the many parties that had a financial stake in the rebuilding of the new World Trade Center and the Freedom Tower. Among those parties were the LMDC, the leaseholder of the property named Larry Silverstein, the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey, New York State and City government, and dozens of smaller companies and organizations brought on to help the design, construction, and funding of this massive undertaking. On September 12, 2011, the Memorial opened to the public and three years later the 911 Museum opened. Finally, nearly 14 years after the 9/11 attacks that brought the Twin Towers down, the Freedom Tower welcomed its first visitors to the observatory.
Ranking among skyscrapers
The Freedom Tower is the tallest building in North America. It stands 1,776 feet (541 meters) and is a reference to the year when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. The building’s usable space height is 1,368 feet, exactly the same height as the original North Twin Tower. Its spire is 408 feet tall. As of 2016, it is the 6th tallest skyscraper in the world.
Some architects challenged One World Trade Center’s claim that it became the 4th tallest building in the world and the tallest in the Western Hemisphere because the spire should not count towards the building’s official height. In 2013, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an authority in the field of skyscrapers, declared that the tower’s spire was an integral architectural feature and not merely decorative, as it encases an antenna to serve as a lightning beacon.
A similar dispute occurred in 1929 in the famous “race to the Top”, the battle to be the tallest building ion the world between 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building. To find who won, read our post The Great Skyscraper Race for more on this
Total cost of design and construction: $4 billion
Height to roof: 1,368.11 feet
Total height with spire: 1,776 feet
Area: 40,000 square feet
Above ground stories: 104
Below ground stories: 5
Tons of structural steel used: 48,000 tons, the equivalent of 22,500 full‐size passenger cars.
Before or after your visit to the Freedom Tower, consider taking one of our pay-what-you-wish guided tour of Ground Zero and 9/11 Memorial. On Tuesdays, we run our 9/11 and World Trade Center Tour at 1 pm. If you visit the Tower in the afternoon, join us on our 911 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge Night Tour at 7 pm. We also recommend you do at least one of these free activities. These are among the highlights of any New York visit!
Helpful tips when visiting Lower Manhattan
If you would like to join us on one of our tours, take a look at our tour calendar. We offer more than 35 tours that explore many parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. We also have more than 20 self-guided tours you can use on mobile devices.
Written by Courtney Shapiro