July 31, 2020 | Destinations, In the News

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

The Pavilion as seen at dusk just beyond the waterfall. (Douglas Keeney)
The steel tridents from the North Tower. (Douglas Keeney)