This year commemorates the 14th anniversary of the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks that left our country in a fog of loss and mourning. Through the devastation and years of recovery that followed, those involved in and affected by the disaster came together to help honor those who sacrificed everything by creating the national memorial and museum, both housed in New York City’s Financial District at Ground Zero, where the World Trade Centers once stood tall.
With the complete project having been finished only a year ago following delays from Hurricane Sandy, the museum and memorial stand as a testament of resilience and strength in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks as well as the attack on the World Trade Center complex on February 26, 1993. Whether you’re planning to pay a visit to the site on the anniversary of the attacks or hope to do so in the future, read on for a guide to ensuring you get the most out of each part of the gripping, educational experience.
The museum, finished last summer, honors the memory of the nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children killed during the attacks. Split into three main exhibitions, visitors can take a journey through the history of the tumultuous events and spend time in the museum’s In Memorium wing, a quiet, commemorative series of rooms providing moving pictures and profiles of hundreds of victims to portray the scale of loss brought upon our country. Foundation Hall, a room of massive scale, features a retaining wall from the original World Trade Center, which stands as a tribute to the perseverance and spirit of survival wrought from the vicious acts. Mementos, inscriptions and haunting “Missing Person” posters accent the room, adding to the immense gravity of the museumgoer’s experience and perspective.
One of the museum’s newer exhibits, the Beyond Ground Zero: 9/11 and the American Landscape, Photographs by Jonathan C. Hyman gallery, has been curated in the building’s South Tower Gallery and features photographs of improvised memorials around the country that were put together in various communities within days of the attacks, conveying the grand spirit of national community our country instantly adopted in retaliation. This exhibit is open to the public until May 2016.
Finished in 2011, the twin memorial pools, inscribed in bronze with the names of every individual who perished both attacks on the World Trade Centers, are constructed in the shadows of where the two buildings used to stand. The two gleaming black fountains—each an acre in size and flowing with the largest manmade waterfalls and North America—speak to the depth of loss, but also the breadth of memory and honor that have only proven to grow stronger as the years pass by.
After viewing both the memorial and the museum, visitors can reflect upon the “Survivor Tree,” the sole callery pear tree that managed, against all odds, to survive the explosions and demolition on the complex grounds. A living symbol of rebirth and survival, this monument serves as a beacon of hope for our country’s ability to counteract the evil it’s faced.
Admission to the museum and memorial is $39 to the general public, with discounts given to veterans, students, youth, seniors and members. Children aged six and under are admitted free of charge, and the complex also offers Free Admission Tuesdays tickets from 5 p.m. until close on a first-come, first-served basis. The museum recommends visitors download their 9/11 Memorial Commemorative guide and mobile apps to enhance their visit.