Oh Really: The Smell of 1 World Trade Center

Photo taken today by me.

Roughly ten times per week, I pass the site of the former 1 and 2 World Trade Center, commonly and fondly known as the “Twin Towers” from 1973 to 2001.

I’ve never entered the new One World Trade Center building (constructed on that spot from 2006 to 2014) — not for business, and certainly not for pleasure. I’ve never been tempted, not even once, to visit its One World Observatory (opened in 2015).

wtc observatory.png
Admission Prices and Packages for One World Observatory

I’m not completely opposed to the concept of mingling with hordes of tourists while taking in a high or wide view of the city. The Empire State Building? A classic. Circle Line tours? Highly recommended. But I don’t do my mingling and viewing in a place where thousands of people recently died in a terrorist attack. (Yes, it still feels recent to many of us.)

When I see tourists smiling and taking selfies in front of the new One World Trade Center, I just want to ask them why. 

Of course, if I deny myself the experience of visiting the top of the “Freedom Tower,” I’ll never have a chance to smell the official fragrance of One World Trade Center.

nyt 1wtc.png
The New York Times, August 7, 2019

Yes. As The New York Times reported today, the Observatory is permeated with a custom scent that was commissioned just for this space. (It’s also pumped into the area around the Observatory’s lower-level ticket booths.)

According to the Times, Keith Douglas, the Observatory’s managing director, “wanted something that would ‘enhance the interior space as it is now’ and evoke ‘a really positive thought about One World,’ as he calls the observatory, when out-of-town visitors go back home.”

Laurent Le Guernec,1  a senior perfumer with International Flavors & Fragrances, did the honors of composing “One World,” a citrus-woody blend inspired by the native trees of New York State.

Trees? Again, why?

Aren’t trees the last thing anyone associates with the Manhattan skyline? What does the rest of New York State have to do with this? Why not create an urban smell for this location, maybe something evocative of steel, clouds, and the Hudson River? And couldn’t anyone have come up with a better name? I suppose One World Observatory™ wanted to stay consistent in its branding.

And why does this space need to be scent-branded at all? It’s not an Abercrombie & Fitch. It’s not a hotel lobby. It’s a viewing platform on the site of a terrorist attack.

I’ve never used the phrase “late capitalism” on this blog, but there’s always a first time.

I wonder: after you’ve paid for your “experience” package, ridden the elevator up to the Observatory, experienced the Global Welcome Center, the See Forever Theatre, and the Sky Portal, posed for a family portrait ($29.99 extra) in front of an “innovative digital wall” showing a simulated skyline, then enjoyed some $18 chicken wings at the One Dine bar — can you purchase a bottle of One World at the The Gallery at One World Observatory?

I won’t be visiting to find out.

You can read the full New York Times article here.


1.  Coincidentally (or not?), Le Guernec has also created more than a dozen fragrances inspired by NYC landmarks and tourist sites, from Park Avenue to the High Line, for the fragrance brand Bond no. 9.



  1. Seven years ago when I visited the memorial, I was shocked to see people taking smiling selfies or pictures of each other there. I wanted both to cry and yell at them. I did neither, and the majority of visitors were normal people, but I still remember the feeling.

    I protest using memory of people who lost their life there in a horrible terrorist act for something as mundane as “drink or shop,” no matter how positive I’d feed from smelling that special concoction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It really is surprising, the levity that people show when they’re visiting the bombing site and the memorial. The staff of the museum and the memorial do an excellent job of commemorating and educating…I respect that, even if I feel no need to visit the museum, personally. But when I see tourists acting like they’re in Times Square (or DisneyWorld), I want to snarl at them.


  2. Wow. I had a couple of friends who were there on 9/11, thankfully surviving, and some who used to work there before 9/11. I don’t think many non New Yorkers understand just how traumatic it was for the locals. One of my friends still refers to the memorial as “that graveyard” and he has never gone back anywhere near it, in spite of living and working in Manhattan. This is a middle aged, male banker, not known for displays of emotion. I thought the scent would turn out to be something to calm and comfort visitors onsite. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OldHerb, I’m glad that you didn’t lose anyone close to you! Neither did I, thankfully, but people close to me were affected in many ways by being near the Towers that day (and the weeks after it) — physically and/or emotionally. Many people, including your banker friend, will never be able to see it purely as a tourist site! I know life goes on, etc. etc., but I’m still unpleasantly surprised by the sheer commercialization and consumerism of projects like this one.

      Liked by 1 person

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