After a long day of travel to New York City, I was craving a hot shower. I turned on the water and waited … and waited … and waited.
No hot water.
I started to panic. We were going to be in this hotel for three days — we worked hard to find a good location for “only” $200 a night — and I was in a bit of a panic. I called the front desk and heard what you’ll never hear in a California hotel: “Just let the water run for at least 10 or 15 minutes and it will eventually get hot. You’re on the 11th floor, you know.”
I was horrified to think about all that water going down the drain, but I finally realized that things in these Manhattan hotels are just not the same as they are in California. Many NYC hotels are old, have ancient infrastructure, and sit in a city that must support 8.4 million residents and 54 million tourists a year. That’s a lot of toilets flushing, sinks draining and hot water surging through pipes and a sewer system which, miraculously, work OK most of the time.
So I did what I had to do — turned on the faucet full-blast and waited. The hot water eventually reached our room and I more than enjoyed that shower.
The next day, I noted that there was no problem getting hot water to the 100th floor of the new One World Trade Center.
Located just north of the former site of the Twin Towers, the glass and steel structure opened October 2014 after more than a decade of solving political, design, emotional and financial challenges. Some still believe that this new tower shouldn’t have been built to replace the two World Trade Center towers that were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Economic realists, however, understand the value of Manhattan real estate, and that sadly, it’s often all about the money.
There is no arguing, however, that the One World Trade Center is an architectural and technological wonder, and is arguably more beautiful than the Twin Towers. And at 1776 feet tall, the new Freedom Tower, as some call it, is the highest building in the Western Hemisphere.
Security is understandably tight, and the 100th-floor One World Observatory (opened in May 2015) is accessible by a separate entrance and a pricey ticket — $32. (Don’t waste your money if it’s not a clear day.)
Perhaps the most incredible thing about the visit to the center, other than getting hot water on the 100th floor, is the entry tunnel to the elevator and the ride to the top. Huge digital screens that line the walls of the tunnel tell of the people and the process that built the tower, and in the elevator, the digital show tells of the city’s history. A time-lapse process speeds elevator passengers through the centuries as passengers are whooshed to the top in less than a minute. The ride was so fast and smooth, and images of the New York City skyline so engaging that I had no sense that we were being transported 1,776 feet above the ground.
My sensitive ears didn’t even pop.
The ads for the observatory say that you can “see forever” and the view does come close.
On a clear day, Manhattan and its bridges, the Hudson and East rivers, Central Park, the other boroughs, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and New Jersey fill the floor-to-ceiling windows. The metropolitan area looks like an architectural model, orderly and pristine. I couldn’t help remembering that passengers on the two flights that crashed into the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, had this same view. What wasn’t part of the landscape on that infamous day were the National September 11 Museum & Memorial just south of the trade center, built in remembrance of this terrible event and those who died that day.
For a preview of a One World Observatory visit, check out https://oneworldobservatory.com/experience/
E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.