Ground Zero is no longer a place of terror, but a memorial and a place for quiet reflection. Where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood, the National 9/11 Memorial now stands tall as a sign of freedom to the world. The new complex of the One World Trade Center around the memorial is also almost finished. We believe this area warrants more than one visit. We have compiled the most pertinent information for each of these three significant sites in New York for you (out of respect, I do not wish to refer to them as “sights” or “attractions”).
I was in New York on September 11, 2001 – for that reason alone the National 9/11 Memorial has a special meaning and importance to me. The National 9/11 Memorial honors the almost 3,000 victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in September 2001 as well as the bombings of February 1993. The two pools of the National 9/11 Memorial are exactly in the same spot as the Twin Towers once were. They are like two enormous footprints of the former World Trade Center at Ground Zero in New York. Large bronze panels around the pools bear the names of all the victims – walking along and reading their names will give you goosebumps. On account of the pools, the memorial is also called “Reflecting Absence”. The National 9/11 Memorial is truly something humbling and special. The 9/11 Memorial in NYC is the largest memorial dedicated to 9/11.
Admission to the National 9/11 Memorial is free; you can simply go there and let the emotions wash over you. It is particularly beautiful if you get there in the early evening – the two pools are illuminated and light up when darkness falls. It is truly a sight to behold.
There is also a guided 9/11 Memorial walking tour available with certified guides who have a personal connection to the events of September 11 and the Memorial. This way, you can learn about Ground Zero and its history first-hand. To us, it made a huge difference in taking the tour compared to simply visiting the site by ourselves. There’s just too much you don’t get to learn when you don’t take a tour, which is why we dearly recommend taking it. It is, however, very emotional, so we don’t recommend bringing young children.
The tour does not only cover the National 9/11 Memorial but also other sites that stand in connection to the tragic attacks, such as St. Paul’s Chapel, the FDNY Memorial Wall, and the FDNY Ten House. You can add the entry to the 9/11 Museum during the booking process, which we recommend visiting following the guided tour. You can read more tour details here.
The entire National 9/11 Memorial encompasses 8 hectares and is planted with trees. All trees are oaks, except for one. The pear tree, the “Survivor Tree”. It survived the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but sustained heavy damage. Its roots were cut, its bark burned, and its branches are broken. When it was saved from the rubble on October 1, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation nursed it back to health.
Upon its recovery, the tree was brought back in 2010 and planted at the Memorial. Its new growth and leaves, however, do not completely cover its knotted stumps. The tree is thus a living reminder of resilience, survival, and rebirth.
The National 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial Museum are two different entities. The 9/11 Memorial Museum is on the grounds of the 9/11 Memorial and admission costs approx. $24 unless you own one of the many New York attraction passes that grant you free admission. We have visited it and you can read about our experience here. A new addition to Ground Zero is the 9/11 Memorial Glade, paying tribute to those indirectly affected by 9/11.
Getting to the 9/11 Memorial is easy because there are several subway lines nearby. We recommend that you take the subway lines: , , , or to “Chambers Street” station. With the lines and you can also go to the next station, “Park Pl.” Additionally, you can also take the lines and to Fulton Street. Either way, you will only be a few meters away from the 9/11 Memorial. You cannot miss it – just head towards One World Trade Center, the building that towers above all others.
There are no operating hours – the 9/11 Memorial is always accessible.
These significant sights can be found directly at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum:
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