National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The Survivors’ Staircase. Wikimedia Commons, license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
By far one of the most powerful experiences we’ve had in recent memory was our visit to the September 11 Museum in New York City. The sky was a brilliant blue, the breeze soft and easterly; the temperature and humidity shirt-sleeve comfortable. We realized that it was a day just like that day 20 years ago when the world came to a halt as smoke streamed form the North and South Towers. We entered the memorial park from the street after a cab ride down from midtown and like the escapable pull of gravity were immediately drawn to the fountains where cascading waterfalls and the names of the departed mark the footprints of the twin towers. We were far from alone as we stood there — there were many others around, a small crowd if you will, but you wouldn’t have known it – the air was suffused with a feeling of reverence even before you went into the museum itself.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum was opened to the public on May 21, 2014.. It commemorates the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, which killed 2,977 people, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six. Your visit begins as you walk through the handsomely treed memorial park into the museum pavilion which is shaped like a partially collapsed building. As you enter you will see two tridents from the North Tower displayed as the spears of rugged steel they were crowded by the three prongs after which they derived their name (“tridents’). From here you will descend 70 feet to the museum itself where you will walk through 110,000 square feet of artifacts, including video clips of the attacks, interviews with survivors, EMS medics, police officers, firefighters, and hear audio tapes, including the 9-1-1 calls from inside the towers. Stories will come at you from every nook and cranny and are told through pieces of all seven buildings, crushed fire engines, office equipment found around the base, dust-caked helmets, shoes, identification badges, turnout coats, and the minutiae of everyday life of an office worker in a modern high rise. History is writ raw here yet it is done so without a hint of sensationalism, the events of September 11th certainly being sensational enough.
You should allow at least two hours for the museum but by all means walk around the financial district and at the least go through the Winter Garden over to the Hudson River and see where the boat lift took place. The complex is operated by a non-profit group so you will pay for admission but every penny is worth it. The entire operation is professionally run ; you can buy tickets online and there will be crowds when you get there but expect smooth-moving lines run by knowledgeable volunteers. . One big caveat — since the COVID outbreak the museum has been closed and remains closed as of this writing (August 2020) but virtual tours are available and the website seems to be up-to-date so watch it for the news about the reopening.
180 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
Tickets: Currently Closed
Virtual Memorial Tour (Live): $25 per screen