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One World Trade Center observatory opens to public

NEW YORK - There's a new bird's eye view of New York City.

The One World Trade Center observatory officially opened to the public Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Visitors will get a view of the city and its surroundings from above 1,250 feet and stretching 50 miles past the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty to the Atlantic Ocean.

Hundreds of people lined the streets Friday morning in order to be among the first to pay a visit to the observatory, reports CBS New York.

Cool tech at the top of One World Trade Center
Cool tech at the top of One World Trade Center

"I've been to New York several times now and I've watched the construction of this new building in the times I've visited," Rob Fenton, of England, who was first in line, told the station. "I always knew I wanted to be here for the opening, if possible."

The observatory is on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors. The main public viewing space is on the 100th floor, with restaurants on the 101st floor, and an event space on the 102nd floor.

Charlie, Gayle and Norah reflect on historic broadcast from One World Observatory

The building is the nation's tallest, at 1,776 feet.

"You're high enough up that you can start to see the curvature of the earth," David Checketts, the CEO of Legends - the company that operates One World Observatory, told "CBS This Morning."

Visitors reach the observatory via one of five elevators called "skypods," which zip up to the observatory in 60 seconds.

Checketts says it's "the fastest elevator in the world."

Along with a spectacular view, visitors will see a video called "Voices," about those who built One World Trade Center. There's also a virtual time lapse that recreates the development of the New York City skyline and beyond from the 1600s to present day.

At the Sky Portal, embedded in the floor, you can look down at the streets below. The view comes from a live high-definition feed from a camera affixed to the spire at the top of the tower.

Guides will help tourists learn about the city's attractions, or if smaller screens are more your size the experience offers One World Explorer iPad with a virtual helicopter tour of the city. Select different locations on the screen and the chopper takes you right there.

The ride down on the elevators feels more like a flight simulation as passengers are sent on an aerial tour around the building, and it's just as stunning at night.

Unfortunately, there is no outdoor space at the observatory. Checketts said the building's design wouldn't allow for it. There's also no explicit reminders of 9/11 in the observatory deck, other than the memorial pools down below.

"This space was to be used as a fist pump. We put it back up and now, looking forward to a future filled with promise," Checketts said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the building "a rebirth."

"What a message to the world. We said we were going to build it back and build better than ever, and it's true. You can see it," de Blasio said.

Tickets are $32 for adults and $26 for children, ages 6 to 12. Admission is free for relatives of those who died on Sept. 11 and those who worked in the rescue and recovery.

Officials expect about 4 million visitors a year. Tickets are available online.

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