The high-speed elevator ascends toward the top of One World Trade Center featuring a virtual theater experience that includes a history of New York City's skyline and narratives of workers who constructed the skyscraper while paying homage to the Twin Towers lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
When the elevator reaches the 102nd floor -- 1,250 feet up and just two stories from the top -- visitors "see all of New York" courtesy of a 360-degree panoramic view.
"No view will match its grandeur, from the George Washington Bridge to the dignity of the Statue of Liberty . . . millions of people will see the greatest view on the planet," Port Authority chairman David Samson said Tuesday as the observatory's design was unveiled.
Samson spoke from the 100th floor of One World Trade Center, two floors below the observatory but still with majestic views of the Hudson River north to the Palisades into the Hudson Valley and east to the banks of the East River and on to the Rockaways and Atlantic Ocean. While the observatory's walls and windows are up, it remains a construction zone.
One World Observatory, the latest lower Manhattan attraction, is expected to open in 2015 adjacent to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and a new transportation hub that will be surrounded by thousands of square feet of new retail and restaurant space. One World Trade Center is scheduled to open to tenants in early 2014.
"Two years from now, this magnificent building will be the talk of the town. That would not have been possible if not for the team of workers who brought us this heavenly view," said Scott Rechler, Port Authority vice chairman.
Visitors reach that "heavenly view" by boarding one of five high-speed elevators, Port Authority officials said.
Construction on the three-story observatory will begin in 2014. The Port Authority estimates it will make $875 million through a 15-year leasing contract with operator Legends Hospitality Llc, which will design the observatory's interior and operate the attraction. Legends is a sporting and entertainment management company founded by the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys.
An escalator ride from the 102nd floor to the 101st floor will take tourists to restaurants and a souvenir shop, where tour guides will provide information on other attractions around the city and answer questions about the construction of One World Trade Center. The ticket price for the one-hour visit has not been determined.
Port Authority executive director Patrick J. Foye declared: "One World Trade Center is back."