We have used the phrase 'Cathedral of Commerce' before; but honestly, this mall is the one that most gives a person the feeling of reverence, as if entering a hallowed place. The crystalline quality of the structure feels like Superman jammed the crystal given to him by Jor-El right beneath the Freedom tower, and this mall is what lurched out of the ground and into existence. It's like something from the future and it is beautiful.
The only problem here is that this is not the kind of mall made for mall-ratting. It's for wandering around in, slack jawed. It's for floating around in in quiet amazement. It's for buying a $6000 leather document holder from Mont Blanc. But strangely, this matters not a jot. You can enjoy the splendour, browse the goods and maybe buy some slightly more reasonable Japanese wagashi traditional sweets from Minamoto Kitchoan; the sweets themselves an edible metaphor for this Westfield - graceful and perfectly formed. You will not regret for a second visiting this truly unique shopping centre. Even the crowds seem to respect this mall as a place of quiet, dignified retail therapy; it is never overly busy. The city outside can be at a cadenza of activity, but inside this place... all is calm and gentile. The only slight interruption to this placidity was the fact that the unruly interloper, the massive multi-story H&M store, was having its grand opening on the day we visited and was blasting hippity-hop loudly with speakers facing outwards towards the entrance. But not even this could tarnish the day out we had in this place.
At first glance, the mall does not appear so big. From the outside you see just the tip of the concourse roof, like some weird alien ship waiting for the others to arrive before commencing it's attack. I would say you could walk past it not knowing of the glorious spectacle lurking beneath, but just this glimpse is enough to draw you in. It's easy to be mesmerised by the concourse (dubbed 'Oculus') with the ceiling that reaches far up to the sky, but there is far more to it. There are three levels, as well as other sub-levels, and you can veer off into other areas which are more mall-like but still absolutely beautiful, in-keeping with the ivory palace finishing.
A shot of Manhattan from Liberty Island, One World Trade Centre towers above all
Old, classic New York with the futuristic tower in the distance
Reflective surfaces on a clear day give a beautiful, azure tone to the tower
When we visited, Sennheiser was holding a special event called 'Enter the soundscape'. This involved an opportunity to listen to Sennheiser's latest audiophile products. The beautiful display they had set up, all clear perspex and green neon, really added to the experience. Other shops include big brand names such as an Apple store, Aldo, Bose and Dior. Apart from plenty of big names, there are also many interesting shops which we have never heard of. This is always great and avoids the 'cookie-cutter' mall syndrome, keeping the visit interesting. I found myself turning a corner, seeing a store and thinking 'oooh, what the hell do these people sell?'. It was always a pleasant surprise. There is also a good chance that you will not find everything on your first visit because of the awesome maze-like quality. As an example, on looking at the official website, we found out there is a shake-shack. And I loves me some shake-shack. There are also many stores opening soon. Shortly, this will become a venue in which you could easily spend 24 hours.
A great time-lapse video of the construction of Oculus
The mall opened in Lower Manhattan, August 2016 out of the ashes of the mall which was badly damaged after the 9/11 attack. It occupies a good deal of the original mall's space, a portion of which is now dedicated to the new World Trade Centre memorial. Even though not as big as the original, it is still the biggest mall on the island. Having said that, there are not too many malls in New York City, but it is still massive by all accounts. When the mall opened it had sixty stores, and that number is now up to over one hundred. This includes companies which have decided to open flagship stores in Westfield World Trade Centre. This is a great vote of confidence and shows that these stores were as blown away as we were upon seeing this place.
A short video of our visit...
...and a long video of our entire NYC trip!
The spiky exterior of the centre, the only indication on street level of the wonders beneath
A shot from the second level
Oculus, with the mall fanning out on all sides
If you get peckish during your visit, there are plenty of food options. The mall contains a great mix of high end eateries (fancy tacos or artisanal breads, anyone?) and fast food joints (such as Shake Shack, Dunkin' Donuts and Pret a Manger). And if you want to eat immediately, you can even pick up something from Eataly deli, as good as anything you'll find in the mother country! Italian, Japanese, pub-grub, French, Mexican... you're all good.
To conclude, I love this mall. The only reason it has been given a silver award is because it still feels very much like a fledgling. It is certainly in its early days, but when it settles in, and when it gets a cinema impressive enough to match it (I sincerely hope this is in the works), it will surely become one of the top malls in the world, one in which I could happily spend 24 hours. We will most certainly revisit in the very near future. In fact, whenever I am in New York City, I will come to this place. No expense seems to have been spared in the mall. It is beautifully finished and everything feels high-end, including the white Italian marble on every surface and the strips of television screens along certain walls, making you feel like you're in one of those Star Trek TNG off-Enterprise utopian societies - not a corner in site, all curvy, organic and spotless. I would go as far as to say that you should definitely add this to your itinerary along with Ellis Island, Empire State, Lady Liberty, Flatiron, Bloomingdales, 30 Rock, Pizza Suprema and Katz deli! Highly recommended.
Address: 185 Greenwich Street, New York City, New York, 10007
Contact: 212 284 WWTC (9982)
Number of Stores: More than 150
Number of Levels: 6
Opening Times: Monday - Saturday 10h00 to 21h00, Sunday 11h00 to 19h00