1 - World Trade Centre Transportation Hub
1) World Trade Centre Transportation Hub
It’s been almost 15 years since the September 11 attacks but finally the debris and destruction of Ground Zero has given way to gleaming new towers, budding trees and a striking downtown station. Designed by Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava, the World Trade Centre (WTC) Transportation Hub opened in March – it is easy to spot with its white, bone-like wings splaying out of the roof. The exterior may have been inspired by a dove taking flight, but the cavernous interior looks like the belly of a dinosaur, white steel ribs leading the eye up to a 48-metre-high glass atrium.
An Italian-marble mezzanine wraps around the Oculus precinct – not just for travellers passing through, when complete in August, the hub will double as a mall housing the likes of Apple, Tumi and Eataly. Although the station cost US$4 billion and has been completed seven years late, by 2020 it will serve 250,000 passengers daily via 11 subways and PATH trains.
2 - One World Trade Centre Observatory
From the WTC Transportation Hub, head past the two square waterfalls that plunge deep into the ground, marking the footprint of the Twin Towers. The new One World Trade Centre was completed in November 2014 but the Observatory, located on levels 100-102 of the 104-floor skyscraper, wasn’t unveiled until May last year.
A lift will whizz you up the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere in 60 seconds – the main viewing area is on floor 100, where guides give free talks throughout the day. Designed to be the strongest skyscraper on the planet, it took a decade to build, compared with 13 months for the Empire State. Look out for the pale, matchstick-like tower next to it in the distance – this is 432 Park Avenue, one of the tallest residential towers in the world. Open 9am-8pm (10pm in summer); US$32. 285 Fulton Street; oneworldobservatory.com
3 - Brookfield Place
Formerly the World Financial Centre, across the street is the shiny new Brookfield Place food and shopping pavilion, home to designer brands such as Gucci, Hermès, Burberry and J Crew, and a Davidoff of Geneva store for fine cigars. A 7,900 sqm Saks Fifth Avenue will open this summer.
If you’re hungry, the Hudson Eats food court is handy for a quick bite – there are more than a dozen classy fast-food outlets including Skinny Pizza, Black Seed Bagel, Umami Burger and Chop’t for salads, plus free wifi. Downstairs is Le District French marketplace for more refined dining.
Head through the arcade, beneath the glass atrium bedecked in hanging purple lights, and you will find yourself on a waterside promenade by the Hudson River. You will need to exit the way you came in, though, to get to your next stop, a few minutes away. Shops open 10am-8pm (12pm-6pm Sun); Hudson Eats 10am-9pm (7pm Sun). 230 Vesey Street; brookfieldplaceny.com
4 - 9/11 Memorial Museum
It goes without saying that this is a disturbing place to visit, but you may feel it important to do so. Be warned that some exhibits are pretty harrowing and the addition of a gift shop at the end seems in bad taste. Opened in May 2014, the museum documents the attacks and the lives of every victim (as well as those who died at the Pentagon and in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing).
The subterranean exhibition halls are built into the very bedrock of the WTC site. You can see the remains of the “survivor stairs”, a mangled fire engine and a mausoleum filled with almost 3,000 photos of the victims. The inner rooms are more shocking – beginning with projections of the planes hitting the towers, moving on to voicemail recordings of passengers, pictures of people jumping from the buildings, and personal items such as shoes and phones. Open 9am-8pm (9pm Fri-Sat); US$24. 180 Greenwich Street; 911memorial.org/museum
5 - The Dead Rabbit
Forgive the name of this speakeasy, it really does serve good cocktails – and by this time, a stiff drink is needed to end the tour. About ten to 15 minutes’ walk through the financial district, the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog is housed in an old brownstone building full of character.
The ground-floor Taproom is a cosy pub selling craft beer, whiskey, bottled punch and pies, while upstairs is the more sophisticated Parlour. Here, the cocktail menu (presented as a graphic novel) lists 72 drinks based on 19th-century recipes. Try the potent High Roller (US$16) with Altos Reposado tequila, Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino, Ancho Chili, Aperol and hopped grapefruit bitters. Brunch, lunch and dinner is served (no reservations). If you’re wondering, the name of the bar comes from the Irish-American gang the Dead Rabbits, who wreaked havoc in New York in the 1850s. Open 11am-4am, Parlour 5pm-2am (12am Sun).
30 Water Street; deadrabbitnyc.com