As with any new landmark in a city as diverse and influential as New York City opinions are often divided—and The Oculus is one of the most polarizing structures of recent memory. Highlighted by a decidedly abstract design that has been described as everything from dinosaur fossils to a pokemon character, The Oculus’ iconoclastic design has become a crowd magnet since it first opened in March of 2016. Here’s what to do at NYC’s newest landmark.
A work of modern art by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, The Oculus is breathtaking inside and out. Admire the pearly white outer facade, flapping hastily like a seagull ready to crack a clam in the middle of downtown New York. Enter the front door to the structure’s cavernous interior where the ground floor plunges three stories below street level. Your first pit stop will be the balcony overlooking the belly of the beast where shoppers and commuters line the floor like ants scurrying in every direction. Make sure to have your iPhone handy as this view has become one of NYC’s most instagrammable spots.
While the structure is an architectural wonder, it is at its core a shopping mall—so take advantage. Stores like COS, Aesop and Montblanc will keep you well groomed and well dressed during your stay in America’s fashion capital.
Head next door to the National September 11 Memorial and reflect at one of the most poignant memorials you’ll find anywhere. Tiered waterfalls cascade across the empty twin tower foundations, around which victims names are carved in remembrance.
If all the shopping and exploring has given you an appetite you’re in luck. Those with a sensitive sweet tooth swoon over Lady M Confections—home to just about every type of cake you could possibly dream up. On a health kick? The cleanse-worthy apple-mint-ginger juice at Joe & The Juice is freshly squeezed to order. And if you just can’t leave NYC without tasting one of the city’s signature burgers, yes, there is a Shake Shack on premises. But The Oculus’ best claim to foodie fame is bringing Eataly downtown. The full-fledged Italian market by Mario Batali has all the imports, from pasta to pizza, formaggio, meats and wines, to make you wonder if you’ve secretly teleported to lo Stivale.