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I'm going to New York and I thought it would be cool if I could go all the way up the One World Trade Center by stairs. When I google it I find lots of news about stair races and stuff like that, but nothing about a single person showing up and doing it by himself.

So can I just do it, get in at the ground floor and climb the stairs all the way to the top? Or would there be any problems or bureaucracies involved? I have no idea what's it like there and it doesn't seem like something people do all the time.

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    Take the elevator to the last floor, then take the fire exit. It has to be open by law, although don't blame me if you trigger the fire alarm :) – JonathanReez Nov 24 '16 at 9:35
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    In general, these kind of skyscrapers do not permit the public unrestricted access. Even to get past security you would need an invitation. If you got through, you will find that you can only access certain floors by lift. – Calchas Nov 24 '16 at 10:37
  • @JonathanReez Ah, but telling people I took the stairs down wouldn't be nearly as fun as saying I took the stairs up. Not worth the trouble, haha. – dbmrq Nov 24 '16 at 16:39
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    @dbmrq First, you can expect no access to any area beyond the reception unless you have an invitation. If you have an invitation, it is expected that your host will escort you at all times (including visiting the bathroom). These are not public buildings. Second, use of the fire escape stairs is not normal in these buildings. Most people would not have the stamina to get above about the tenth floor and the building is designed to hide these stairs from view. The low floors may be accessible via some special stair cases but almost everyone will use the lifts/elevators. – Calchas Nov 24 '16 at 17:19
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    I visited the Empire State Building a couple weeks ago, and instead of waiting for the elevators from the 80th (exhbit) to the 86th (main deck) floor, the crew actually offered to visitors to use the stairways (same on the way back down again). Inside the stairwell, guards / crew members were posted on floors 80, 83 and 86 - so you couldn't really have gone off on a walk by yourself. But it's not like the stairs are totally off limits to visitors either. Security at One WTC was even more strict than at the Empire State Building though (think airport security checkpoint). – Lukas Graf Nov 25 '16 at 18:49
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No you cannot. These skyscrapers have one of the highest securities in the US, other examples are the Willis tower in Chicago. The races you have read about online are legitimate stair races but it's the only time when you can actually do that, and they have ton of security along the way. Imagine if you let people go up the stairs, they would be able to access every single floor, no way they will let you do that.

  • Ah, that's a shame. I wouldn't expect unrestricted access to every floor, of course… maybe the doors could require passwords to get into specific floors? Anyway, stairs are such a normal thing, haha. It seems weird not to allow people to take the stairs. If a person wants to go from the 90th to the 91st floor he has to take the elevator? And what if someone is claustrophobic an doesn't like elevators and wants to go to the 2nd floor? It just sounds weird. Anyway, thanks for the answer! – dbmrq Nov 24 '16 at 16:39
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    @dbmrq if you are a resident you probably can move freely around. – Herman Toothrot Nov 24 '16 at 21:42
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    @dbmrq indeed, the statement "they would be able to access every single floor" is false. Fire stair doors are, in my experience, locked to prevent access from the stairway to the floor, just as a floor's elevator lobby is locked. The locks are typically electromagnetic, so they can be disabled when the fire alarm is activated. Otherwise, people who work at company A on floor X could easily infiltrate the offices of company B on floor Y. – phoog Mar 24 '18 at 14:39
  • @phoog emergency exit are not unlocked electronically, they are made to be opened mechanically. Fire can cause the whole electronic circuit to fail and people would become trapped inside, clearly you don't know how these doors work. But I do agree that it might not be possible to access floors freely. I am not sure you also understand that you do not access someone room or office from the staircase, but simply you access a hallway. So you can't go from company A to B. – Herman Toothrot Mar 24 '18 at 15:31
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    @HermanToothrot in my office building the locks are electromagnets. If the electrical system fails, the doors cease to be locked. Some buildings have different doors that are electromechanical, which have a panic bar inside that retracts the door latch so people on the inside can open the door without needing to activate the electromechanical system. Believe me, I do know how doors work, even those with remote or automated unlocking systems. – phoog Mar 24 '18 at 20:25

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