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The Oculus in NYC is an artistic landmark located within walking distance of the World Trade Center. The transit hub, serving the PATH, cost four billion dollars, making it the most expensive train stop in the world. With its sleek and modern design, it immediately became an attraction in Lower Manhattan.
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What is the WTC Oculus?
The Oculus is the centerpiece of The World Trade Center Transportation Hub. After 12 years of construction and constant delays, it finally opened to the public on March 3, 2016. Designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the $4 billion building exceeded the original estimate by 100%! In total, the WTC Oculus is 350 feet long and measures about 75,000 square feet of retail space. In fact, the Oculus blurs the line between a railway station, shopping center and pedestrian tunnel!
For me, the Oculus is one of New York’s most beautiful structures. From the outside, the Oculus resembles a bird being released from a child’s hand inspiring love and hope in the city. On the inside, the cavernous hall is flooded with natural sunlight thanks to the large skylights. The luminous space features white marble flooring harmonizing with its bright, sleek interior design.
How to get to the Oculus in New York
The Oculus in NYC is super convenient to get to. After all, the Oculus is a transportation hub itself! Like hundreds of thousands of commuters daily, you can take the subway lines stopping at Fulton Street and Cortlandt Street or take the PATH to WTC. The number of people passing through the Oculus every day makes it one of the busiest transportation hubs in the city.
Things to do at the Oculus in NYC
The Oculus in NYC is much more than just a transportation hub. You will have plenty of opportunities to shop, dine, explore art and attend events both inside and outside the Oculus.
A significant percentage of the transportation hub is devoted to the Westfield World Trade Center mall offering a luxury shopping experience in the most beautiful setting. Over 100 stores call Westfield WTC their home. Still, your shopping spree doesn’t have to end here. The West concourse of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub connects the Oculus with Brookfield Place, giving you access to even more shops.
Where there is shopping, you will also find food and drinks to refuel. There’s a good selection of cafés and restaurants located inside the Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center, including a new food market called Market Lane. One of our highlights, however, is the food market Eataly. Here, you cannot only dine on authentic Italian dishes, but you can also buy artisanal pasta, greens, seafood, pastries and much more to take home.
Events inside the WTC Oculus
The center of the Oculus in NYC hosts rotating exhibitions and pop-ups. Some last for several days, whereas others remain inside the main hall for weeks or even months. Be sure to check the event schedule for exhibitions and activities before you come here. There is always something to look at or experience inside the Oculus in NYC! My favorite experience inside the Oculus so far has been The VOID, the best virtual reality adventure I’ve participated in. Oh, and if you’re at the WTC Oculus during the holiday season, expect some magical Christmas decorations.
Events on Oculus Plaza
Outside the Oculus, on Oculus Plaza, several events are hosted. Not only are the events worth attending, but also you’ll enjoy direct views of the Oculus itself as well as One World Trade Center and the colorful murals that decorate its campus. Typically, it is outdoor markets, like the weekly green market, that take place at Oculus Plaza. Every Tuesday, you can shop for local produce from regional farmers. On Fridays, Westfield Trade Center hosts the popular food market Smorgasburg beneath the Oculus’ wings.
Oculus – World Trade Center Transportation Hub
The Oculus transportation hub was designed to rival Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. The Oculus at WTC connects its passengers through the PATH and subway.
World Trade Center Station is located inside the Oculus and connects New York City and New Jersey with the PATH system. Get off at the last stop World Trade Center (WTC).
Through underground passageways, you can easily reach the subway stations Fulton St and Cortlandt St connecting you to no fewer than 11 subway lines. Get off at Fulton Street along subway lines 45JZAC23 or choose Cortlandt St located along subway lines NRW. An alternative is to take subway line E to WTC Station. It’s only a short walk away from the Oculus.
The Oculus on September 11
September 11th marks a very important day for the Oculus. The day is honored by American flags hanging from the roof. What’s also special on this day is that the retractable skylight opens for two hours on the anniversary of 9/11. Removing the glass ceiling allows light to flood the main hall of the Oculus. The structure was specifically positioned for the sun to line up with the ceiling passage at the exact moment the second twin tower fell. The Oculus was designed to be a 9/11 tribute.
*On September 11, 2019, the ceiling did not open as planned due to maintenance issues.
Is the Oculus at World Trade Center wheelchair accessible?
Yes. The Oculus in NYC is equipped with elevators, enabling you to use all subterranean services.
Are there bathrooms?
Yes, bathrooms are located at Westfield Mall. They are spacious, clean, and free to use.
Is there an information desk at the Oculus in NYC?
If you have any questions or can’t find your way out, know that there are several staff members on the main level of the Oculus who are there to help you. There’s an information desk towards the subway lines, across the PATH entrance.
Things to do near the Oculus in New York
The WTC Oculus is located in Lower Manhattan, not far from some major attractions. In fact, many sights and landmarks are within walking distance, most notably:
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!