A student trip to Lower Manhattan is elevated, literally, with a stop at One World Observatory, which is positioned on top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere: One World Trade Center. The observatory provides educational opportunities surrounded by panoramic views of New York City.

“The observatory offers incredible learning tools that elevate the awesome into a truly educational experience,” said Anna Karnowski, senior director of sales at One World Observatory. “We hope students leave the observatory with an appreciation for the majesty, complexity, history, diversity of the landscape; the people and the built environment.”

One World Observatory group
Credit: One World Observatory

A student visit typically lasts 90 minutes and can include pre- and post-trip lesson plans covering STEM, social studies and ELA. A group of 150 students can be accommodated every 15 minutes. 

The journey begins at the “Voices” exhibit, which gives a multimedia narrative of testimonials from architects, project planners, engineers and construction workers who erected the structure. Next, students visit “Foundations,” where they learn about Manhattan Schist, the ancient granite unique to New York that has the strength to support One World Trade Center towers and many others.

The multimedia SkyPod Elevators take students to the 102nd floor in 47 seconds. 

One World Observatory view
Credit: One World Observatory

“History unfolds as the ride up illustrates 500 years of settlement,” Karnowski said. “Students will witness Manhattan transform from forested lands to today’s remarkable collection of skyscrapers.” 

Once on the 102nd floor, students can stop onto the Sky Portal, a 14-foot-wide circular glass disc that offers an unforgettable perspective, using real-time, high-definition footage of the streets 100 floors below. They’ll also meet the observatory’s Tour Ambassadors, who provide interactive presentations on over 100 topics. 

“They’ll connect students deeper into the city’s neighborhoods, history, geography and culture,” Karnowski said. 

For an additional charge, students can use One World Explorer iPads that label major buildings, monuments and sites while also offering virtual narrated helicopter tours of the city’s most famous locales.

Karnowski said the observatory is a great compliment to other lower Manhattan attractions like 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Oculus, the Fulton Center and the Hudson River Waterfront, to name a few. 

“Lower Manhattan is less crowded than midtown and easier for student groups to navigate and stay together,” she said. n 

For more information, visit oneworldobservatory.com.

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Courtney Birchmeier oversees the editorial department at Group Tour Media. With half a decade under her belt in the group travel industry, she's eager to connect tour operators and group leaders with new destinations. It's a great day at the office if her dog, a chow/lab mix named "Kiwi," is in tow. In her free time, she enjoys reading (for fun, with no red pen in hand), sampling craft beer (New Holland Brewing's "Dragon's Milk," anyone?) and adding new destinations to her travel bucket list (like Salzburg, Austria).