Pan, zoom and gawk at this epic NYC panorama shot atop the Freedom Tower

The new tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, known as One World Trade Center (unofficially the “Freedom Tower”), is nearly complete, with a scheduled opening planned for sometime this year. While it isn’t ready to accept visitors yet, Time Magazine has created an amazing interactive 360-degreee-panorama image of New York City from the top of the building, which gives us an early glimpse of what the view would be like at 1,776 feet. The image was created to accompany a feature about the building. 

To capture the photo, Time had to negotiate for months with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (the property’s owner) to gain access to the top of the 408-foot spire. Once that was approved, Time worked with Portland, Oregon-based Gigapan – a company specializing in creating high-resolution panoramas – on the logistics, which included working with mechanical engineers and construction welders to create and attach a 13-foot aluminum jib with a rotating arm – a process that took eight months. A Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a 100mm lens was placed in the arm, and shot 567 images over a 5-hour span.

After the photos were stitched together on a computer during post-processing, what resulted is a huge image that you can tilt, pan, and zoom. How high quality is the image? We could zoom all the way into the distance and make out buildings and landmarks, as far away as Coney Island in outer Brooklyn. You can play with the interactive panorama at Time’s website.

(Via Time; images via Time, Gigapan)