I recently had the honor of visiting the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. Construction began around 2006, after several delays. I remember hearing on the news when I first moved here that they didn’t think they could get the memorial built in time for the 10th year anniversary. Luckily they did. They’re still working on the museum, which will open next year on Sept 11.
I visited Ground Zero in 2002. I was still living in Nebraska at the time, but I was in NYC helping my friend Jeff move. By then the site had been pretty much cleaned up and it looked like a regular construction zone. There was still some evidence of the attacks. The famous iron cross was still in place. But that was about it.
The area was basically closed off for ten years. Since construction is ongoing, you have to reserve a ticket to get in and they only allow 1500 people in at a time. As you can see, the two big squares are where the twin towers once stood, which are now the reflecting pools. The original concept that designer Michael Arad had for the memorial was two square voids in the Hudson river, where water would seemingly disappear. After several revisions, the current design is amazing. There’s a feeling of life down there. The noise of water falling into the reflecting pools is meditative. It magically drowns out the city noise. A lot of care went into inscribing the names of victims not only from the twin towers, but from the Pentagon, United 93 which crashed in Shanksville, PA, and the terrorist bombing of the WTC in 1993. The names are not in alphabetical order. Instead, Arad came up with an ordering concept called “meaningful adjacency” which orders the names by relationship to the other. Coworkers who were close to each other. Firemen who served together. These were all carefully ordered based on the request of the victim’s families.
The perimeter of each reflecting pool is lined with a bronze parapet. Each parapet houses a cooling system underneath to ensure the names remain cool to the even when the sun beats down upon it. At night, the the pools light up as well as all the victim’s names that are inscribed into the parapets. The pools are immense. It’s hard to describe the beauty of this memorial. If you’re in New York, you should visit it and pay your respects. It’s breathtaking. Here’s a short video I shot of the North Tower reflecting pool: