Beautiful. Breathtaking. Tragic. Saddening. Historic. The new One World Trade Center’s observatory has elevators that display a 515-year visual timeline of New York City’s skyline and it’s an incredible view. Like if you were in a glass elevator and watching history unfold right before your eyes.

As the elevator climbs the 102 stories, you get to see New York’s downtown skyline be built and change. The New York Times, which captured the video below, writes:

Nine 75-inch, high-definition monitors are arrayed in each cab behind windowlike mullions to convey the impression that one is in a glass-walled elevator.

At first, one feels enclosed in bedrock. The year is 1500 and the elevator is 55 feet below ground. As it rises, time advances. The cab seems to head skyward from an offshore marsh, a reminder that the trade center site was originally underwater.

And as the elevator climbs, the buildings get taller and you catch a glimpse of one of the Twin Towers before it disappears again to remind you of the history of the site. It’s beautiful.


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