The newly opened observation deck at the top of NYC's One World Trade Center offers one hell of a view

The view from below: One World Trade Center. Image: Getty.

It's a Friday afternoon, we're all about ready to wind down for the weekend, so let's kick back, relax and look at some pretty pictures of New York City.


Today, the observation deck which tops off New York's One world Trade Center opens to the public. The building occupies the site where the Twin Towers stood until 9/11, and like the taller of its predecessors, stands 1,368 feet tall. Throw in a broadcast mast/faintly gratuitous spire*, though, and that figure rises to 1776 feet, to represent the date of the Declaration of Independence, and the building has become known, inevitably, as the Freedom Tower.

The observation deck, which occupies the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors and highest floor, is not quite the highest such tourist attraction in the world: that honour goes to the one in Dubai's Burj Khalifa, which is on the 148th floor. But it’s pretty high nonetheless, and New York is prettier than Dubai anyway, so here are some pictures.

This one shows the sun rising over Manhattan and Brooklyn this morning:

Here are some of the buildings to the north in the dusk:

Here's the reflection of the early morning light on the Hudson River:

This is the view to the south east. That's Brooklyn, with the Atlantic Ocean beyond it:

The Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges across the East River:

Someone mopping the floor, as the sun rises over Long Island.

As a bonus, and because we love you, here's time lapse video showing the tower's construction between 2004 and 2013. It's the work EarthCam, who describe themselves as "Webcam Technology Experts". So there you go.

Images: Spencer Platt/Getty.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally placed the observation deck, incorrectly, on the 104th floor. It also failed to identify the purpose of the mast. We thank anonymous hero "Z100Brody" for the corrections, and for the tone in which he communicated them.

 
 
 
 

Two east London boroughs are planning to tax nightlife to fund the clean up. Will it work?

A Shoreditch rave, 2013. Image: Getty.

No-one likes cleaning up after a party, but someone’s got to do it. On a city-wide scale, that job falls to the local authority. But that still leaves the question: who pays?

In east London, the number of bars and clubs has increased dramatically in recent years. The thriving club scene has come with benefits – but also a price tag for the morning clean-up and cost of policing. The boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets are now looking to nightlife venues to cover these costs.

Back in 2012, councils were given powers to introduce ‘late night levies’: essentially a tax on all the licensed venues that open between midnight and 6am. The amount venues are expected to pay is based on the premises’ rateable value. Seventy per cent of any money raised goes to the police and the council keeps the rest.

Few councils took up the offer. Four years after the legislation was introduced, only eight local authorities had introduced a levy, including Southampton, Nottingham, and Cheltenham. Three of the levies were in the capital, including Camden and Islington. The most lucrative was in the City of London, where £420,000 was raised in the 2015-16 financial year.

Even in places where levies have been introduced, they haven’t always had the desired effect. Nottingham adopted a late night levy in November 2014. Last year, it emerged that the tax had raised £150,000 less than expected in its first year. Only a few months before, Cheltenham scrapped its levy after it similarly failed to meet expectations.


Last year, the House of Lords committee published its review of the 2003 Licensing Act. The committee found that “hardly any respondents believed that late night levies were currently working as they should be” – and councils reported that the obligation to pass revenues from the levy to the police had made the tax unappealing. Concluding its findings on the late night levy, the committee said: “We believe on balance that it has failed to achieve its objectives, and should be abolished.”

As might be expected of a nightlife tax, late night levies are also vociferously opposed by the hospitality industry. Commenting on the proposed levy in Tower Hamlets, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive at the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “A levy would represent a damaging new tax – it is the wrong approach. The focus should be on partnership working, with the police and local business, to address any issues in the night time economy.”

Nevertheless, boroughs in east London are pressing ahead with their plans. Tower Hamlets was recently forced to restart a consultation on its late night levy after a first attempt was the subject of a successful legal challenge by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). Kate Nicholls, chief executive at the ALMR, said:

“We will continue to oppose these measures wherever they are considered in any part of the UK and will urge local authorities’ to work with businesses, not against them, to find solutions to any issues they may have.”

Meanwhile, Hackney council intends to introduce a levy after a consultation which revealed 52 per cents of respondents were in favour of the plans. Announcing the consultation in February, licensing chair Emma Plouviez said:

“With ever-shrinking budgets, we need to find a way to ensure the our nightlife can continue to operate safely, so we’re considering looking to these businesses for a contribution towards making sure their customers can enjoy a safe night out and their neighbours and surrounding community doesn’t suffer.”

With budgets stretched, it’s inevitable that councils will seek to take advantage of any source of income they can. Nevertheless, earlier examples of the late night levy suggest this nightlife tax is unlikely to prove as lucrative as is hoped. Even if it does, should we expect nightlife venues to plug the gap left by public sector cuts?