Occurring just less than two years into the new Millenium, the 9/11 attacks on New York City sent reverberations worldwide. Those old enough to remember the events of that day tend to recall the exact moment they heard the news. 9/11 is unquestionably one of the defining events of modern world history.
If you’re visiting New York and wish to learn more about the tragedy and pay tribute to those who lost their lives that day, a public memorial and museum are today located in the footprints of the destroyed Twin Towers.
The following blog will outline what you can expect from a visit to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and provide information useful to your visit.
What to Expect on Arrival at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
On arrival at the World Trade Center site (formerly site of the 9/11 attacks), you will walk through a tree-lined space before reaching the two memorial pools called Reflecting Absence. This memorial area is free and open to the public seven days a week.
Carefully designed to be a space for contemplation and remembrance, the memorial pools bear the names of all those killed on 9/11 and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The victim’s names are inscribed on the waterfalls’ parapets and are grouped by meaningful connections, such as friends and workmates being positioned together.
The memorial itself is laden with powerful symbolism that aids us in reflecting on the heartbreaking events of that day. The victim’s names have been cut into the metal parapets, so flowers can be inserted in tribute. If you see a white rose at a person’s name, it has been placed to signify their birthday.
The pools themselves constituted the largest man-made waterfalls in North America and were designed to mute the sounds of the bustling city around you. Standing by the pools, you can listen to the flow of the waters, signifying life and a spirit of hope and representing tears shed for those who will never return to us. The square voids at the center of each pool represent the absence of those who died, a space that can never be refilled.
There is also a tree at the site referred to as the survivor tree. Found in the rubble of Ground Zero, this Callery pear tree was nursed back to health and today serves as a powerful symbol for those who survived the attack and for the city’s rebirth and process of healing.
Finally, the memorial glade at the site pays tribute to the thousands of World Trade Center workers and emergency first responders who have suffered from chronic health problems since 9/11 due to the dust and chemicals they were exposed to in September 2001.
Entry to the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Unlike the memorial, the museum is not free to enter. Open Thur-Mon, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., tickets cost between $15 and $26, or between $38 and $46 if the guided tour option is selected.
The museum is run as a not-for-profit organization. The money you spend on the museum ticket will be reinvested into the museum’s running, educational programs, commemorative events, and other activities dedicated to preserving the memory of 9/11 and its victims.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum’s permanent collection consists of material objects recovered from the World Trade Center attack site, first-person testimonies, and historical records relating to September 11, 2001. Being at the site of such tragedy, surrounded by so many reminders of the human lives taken by this terrorist act, can be overwhelming. We recommend reserving at least two and a half hours to explore the exhibition space slowly.
The museum also charts the continued effects of this momentous tragedy nationally and globally. Today, the museum is home to 70,000 artifacts that movingly tell the stories of 9/11’s victims, survivors, and emergency responders.
If you can take a guided tour, it will certainly add to your overall experience. However, an audio guide narrated by Robert De Niro is also available; this well-crafted guide will bring the museum space to life, adding context to the objects and the overall story of what happened.
While in the area, you should also visit the Oculus building. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, this extraordinary building resembles a dove flying from a child’s hand and was built as a sign of peace and hope for the future.
The 9/11 Tribute Museum
When planning your trip to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, be aware that there is another 9/11 museum located just 5-minutes away. The 9/11 Tribute Museum is run by the September 11th Families’ Association and shares the personal stories from that fateful day and its long-term effects on the lives of countless New Yorkers.
Using photos, artifacts, and stories shared by the community, the 9/11 Tribute Museum gives moving insights into the personal lives of those who died, survivors, and members of the emergency services.
If you’re short on time, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum will probably be the better choice for you, though the 9/11 Tribute Museum should not be missed by those who have a deep interest in the events of that day.
Getting to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is best done on public transport, and the local station (World Trade Center Oculus Transportation Hub) can be reached by bus, subway, or PATH train. Just leave plenty of time for your journey and be conscious that the museum can get very busy – if you can arrive early in the day, do so.
Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum with CityWalksNY
At CityWalksNY, we offer 9/11 Memorial Tours customized to fit your travel plans. Learn more about the acts of bravery and selflessness displayed during one of the darkest days in American history.
New York City has remained a beacon of hope for the nation, and the spirit of the American people has never shined more brightly than in the days, weeks, and months that followed the 9/11 attacks.
Although the nature of the 9/11 story is devastatingly sad, we try to put the city’s sense of togetherness, when faced with such unspeakable trauma, at the center of our tour – this is the story of a city’s grief, but also of its determination to flourish once again.
This brings today’s blog to a close, but keep an eye on the CityWalksNY Blog for more New York City-related content!