Atop One World Trade Center, high-tech views of bustling NYC

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Atop One World Trade Center, high-tech views of bustling NYC
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: One World Trade Center is viewed a week before the newly built observation deck opens on May 22, 2015 in New York City. The observation deck sits atop the 104-story skyscraper. Manhattan's most scenic. The observation deck sits atop the 104-story skyscraper at the former site of the Twin Towers, opening to the public on May 29th with tickets currently being sold online. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Media stand on the Sky Portal, a 14-foot wide disc that delivers high-def footage from the street below at the One World Observatory May 20, 2015 during a media tour and preview in New York. This early visit to the Observatory at One World Trade Center will showcase all of the main attractions that the Observatory offers on floors 100 to 102 -- Voices, Foundations, Sky Portal, City Pulse and more. One World Observatory announced that its official public opening date will be May 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: People look out from the newly built One World Observatory at One World Trade Center on May 22, 2015 in New York City. The observation deck sits atop the 104-story skyscraper at the former site of the Twin Towers, opening to the public on May 29th with tickets currently being sold online. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A time-lapsed view of New York seen through the years is viewed from the Sky Pod Elevator at the One World Observatory May 20, 2015 during a media tour and preview in New York. This early visit to the Observatory at One World Trade Center will showcase all of the main attractions that the Observatory offers on floors 100 to 102 -- Voices, Foundations, Sky Portal, City Pulse and more. One World Observatory announced that its official public opening date will be May 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: A panel exhibition is viewed at the to the newly built One World Observatory at One World Trade Center on May 22, 2015 in New York City. The observation deck sits atop the 104-story skyscraper at the former site of the Twin Towers, opening to the public on May 29th with tickets currently being sold online. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A time-lapsed view of New York seen through the years is viewed from the Sky Pod Elevator at the One World Observatory May 20, 2015 during a media tour and preview in New York. This early visit to the Observatory at One World Trade Center will showcase all of the main attractions that the Observatory offers on floors 100 to 102 -- Voices, Foundations, Sky Portal, City Pulse and more. One World Observatory announced that its official public opening date will be May 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
The City Pulse ring is seen at the One World Observatory May 20, 2015 during a media tour and preview in New York. This early visit to the Observatory at One World Trade Center will showcase all of the main attractions that the Observatory offers on floors 100 to 102 -- Voices, Foundations, Sky Portal, City Pulse and more. One World Observatory announced that its official public opening date will be May 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: People look out from the newly built One World Observatory at One World Trade Center on May 22, 2015 in New York City. The observation deck sits atop the 104-story skyscraper at the former site of the Twin Towers, opening to the public on May 29th with tickets currently being sold online. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: One World Trade Center is viewed a week before the newly built observation deck opens on May 22, 2015 in New York City. The observation deck sits atop the 104-story skyscraper at the former site of the Twin Towers, opening to the public on May 29th with tickets currently being sold online. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: The view of Manhattan from the newly built One World Observatory at One World Trade Center on May 22, 2015 in New York City. The observation deck sits atop the 104-story skyscraper at the former site of the Twin Towers, opening to the public on May 29th with tickets currently being sold online. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — From the top of One World Trade Center, the nation's tallest building, it really does seem as if you can "see forever."

Those two words are the motto of the center's new observatory that opens May 29, offering spectacular, wraparound views stretching 50 miles past the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty to the Atlantic Ocean.

But even when the 1,776-foot building disappears into the clouds, as it did on a recent day, there are still plenty of high-tech videos and multimedia displays that reflect the hope and optimism of a building and a city that rose from the ruins of the nation's deadliest terror attack.

"This is a reminder of moving forward," said David Checketts, the CEO of Legends, which operates the $86 million observatory atop the 104-story skyscraper. "The World Trade Center got knocked down and we built if back up."

Visitors who enter the One World Observatory — its official name — encounter a delicate balance of future and past, with only brief references to the twin towers that were slammed by terrorist-hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001, killing more than 2,700 people.

Just above the street-level entrance, faces of men and women who toiled to erect the mammoth, gleaming tower appear in a jagged tunnel that replicates the trade center's bedrock, their recorded voices filled with both pain and pride.

And during the lightning-fast, 48-second elevator ride up to the 102nd floor, a three-dimensional, time-lapse panorama shows 515 years of history at the tip of Manhattan, with the twin towers appearing for less than four seconds before dissolving out of view.

Stepping from the elevator, visitors are greeted with display panels showing 3-D, bird's eye scenes of the metropolis. The panels then lift to reveal New York City — right now.

There's another display called "City Pulse," a ring of high-definition video monitors marking popular city activities, neighborhoods and "hot spots." A wave of the hand in the direction of any of these subjects opens the latest details on everything from sports and theater to the best pizza locations. For an additional $15, visitors may use iPads that scan the skyline, popping up imagery and information narrated by novelist Jay McInerney.

There's no need to creep to observatory's edge for a dizzying view of the city about a quarter-mile below. Visitors can stand on a round video platform that shows an actual livestream of the view straight down.

And perhaps the most hair-raising moment of the whole visit is the elevator ride down. LED screens surrounding passengers simulate the flight of a bird or plane high above the site, dipping and soaring around the skyscrapers all the way back to the ground.

The observatory is open to adults for $32, and less for seniors and children — comparable to Empire State Building fees. Tickets may be purchased online, for a precise time to avoid overcrowding.

Checketts, who expects about 3 million to 4 million visitors a year, said the symbolic importance of the building makes a visit to the observatory a special experience.

"I was just looking out at the Statue of Liberty, and frankly, I got emotional about it," he said of his first visit. "It's this point in New York, in this city that we all love and it's rebuilt. It's back up."

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Online:

One World Observatory: https://oneworldobservatory.com

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