20+ Facts About the 9/11 Memorial in NYC

Updated

If you're looking for facts about the 9/11  Memorial & Museum, you might not know that the National September 11 Memorial & Museum serves to bear witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum affirms an unwavering commitment to the fundamental value of human life and attests to the triumph of the human soul.

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After the tragic events of that September day in 2001, the memorial was built to serve as an eternal beacon and strengthen the resolve of the United States to preserve freedom and inspire an end to intolerance, ignorance, and hatred.

Above all, the memorial honors the unsung heroes for their selflessness and sacrifice each Memorial Day and every day of the year.

Where is the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Located?

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is located at the World Trade Center in New York City.

Through a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts, media, and narratives, it tells the story of 9/11, presenting visitors with personal stories of hope, loss, and recovery. 

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History of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

September 11, 2001, sent shockwaves through the world. Never before had an attack of such scale and terror occurred on American soil. 

The city and the nation’s indomitable spirit in the dark days that followed. The American sacrifice and heroism that unfolded inspired people from around the globe. 

Together, the nation made a solemn vow—to never forget the stories of those who lost their lives in the terror attacks and to share their stories with the world. 

Woven inextricably into the fabric of the city and nation, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was built as a place of healing, mourning, and comfort. On September 11, 2011, 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, the memorial first opened. 

For years now, the memorial and the museum have been places of remembrance and reflection, and a solemn place to pay respect to the dead. Both places were designed to help those with no memory of the attacks to understand the incomprehensible loss that took place and to help those who were affected the most to grieve, mourn, and heal.

The memorial is visited by Americans from all 50 states and tourists from over 190 countries each year. Thousands more are drawn to visit the museum. 

Imagining a memorial

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which was established to oversee the downtown area’s revitalization after 9/11, launched an international competition for the design of a permanent memorial located at the World Trade Center site in April 2003. The competition was open to adults 18 years or older without regard for professional accreditation or nationality. 

From 63 countries, it yielded 5,201 submissions. A 13-person jury judged the entries and looked for designs that honored the victims, spoke to families’ who had lost their loved ones, and provided a space for reflection and healing.

A design submitted by landscape architect Peter Walker and architect Michael Arad entitled Reflecting Absence was chosen as the winning entry in January 2004. The design features twin waterfall pools surrounded by bronze parapets that list the names of the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 attacks. These pools are set in a plaza where over 400 swamp white oak trees grow. 

Design and construction

There are several parts to the memorial and museum. Each has a specific purpose and is symbolic of a certain element of 9/11, including those lost and the survivors.

Memorial pools

The Memorial’s focal points are two pools, each nearly an acre in size, that sit in the former North and South Towers’ footprints. Each descends 30 feet into a square basin. The pools contain the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The water in each pool drops another 20 feet from the basin and vanishes into a smaller, central void.

The pools represent “absence made visible” according to Arad. They can never be filled although water flows into the void. The cascading water’s sounds make the pools a place of contemplation and tranquillity away from the city’s bustling noises.

The Survivor Tree

Around the pools, more than 400 swamp white oak trees fill the Memorial plaza. This hardy tree species is native to New York City, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, Virginia—the three 9/11 crash sites.

One Callery pear tree also stands in the Memorial plaza. Recovery workers discovered the severely damaged tree in October 2001 at Ground Zero. The New York City Parks and Recreation Department removed it from the site and nursed it back to health. The tree became known as the Survivor Tree having survived the events of 9/11. In 2010, it was brought back to the World Trade Center site and currently stands on the plaza as a symbol of perseverance and resilience. 

9/11 Memorial Glade

The Memorial plaza’s south-western quadrant is dedicated in honor of all who have died or are sick in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks due to toxic exposure. This population includes World Trade Center survivors, relief workers and volunteers, first responders and recovery workers at all three sites, lower Manhattan residents, workers and students, and those who cleaned buildings in Ground Zero’s vicinity.

This part of the Memorial recognizes the perseverance and determination of those who participated in recovery efforts, responding when the nation needed them most and helping to pave the way for rebuilding the future. It includes a pathway that is flanked by six huge stone monoliths, each of which is inlaid with remnant World Trade Center steel, symbolizing strength through adversity. On May 30, 2019, the 17th anniversary of the recovery period’s official end, The Glade opened.

Opening the memorial

The 9/11 Memorial officially opened on September 11, 2011, exactly 10 years after the terror attacks that brought down World Trade Center 1 and 2. Several years later, the museum opened to the public. 

Before the memorial opened, there was a dedication period from May 15, 2014, through May 20, 2014. This dedication period featured tributes, previews, and a ceremony for those affected by the tragedy. These groups include families, survivors, rescue and recovery workers, active duty first responders from agencies that had lost members in the attacks, lower Manhattan residents, and business owners.

The Museum remained open 24 hours a day during the dedication period, which allowed members of the community to visit whenever was the most convenient for them. While the previews were free, reservations were required. The Museum opened to the general public on May 21, 2014.

On May 30, 2019, the Memorial Glade was officially dedicated in a ceremony on Memorial Plaza.

How to Pay Your Respects at the 9/11 Memorial

People across the United States and around the world gather at the memorial to pay their respects, remember the victims, and recognize first responders’ sacrifices. Many people want to bring items to place at the memorial in remembrance. 

 The 9/11 Memorial & Museum upholds the tradition of placing items at the memorial and asks visitors to keep in mind that:

  • You can place tribute items on the bronze parapets surrounding the pools, on the stone monoliths of the Memorial Glade, and on the ground in front of the Memorial pools. You cannot place anything into the pools themselves.
  • All tribute items must be smaller than 19 x 17 x 8 inches. Larger items are not be permitted to stay at the Memorial site.
  • Perishable items will be collected every day and discarded.
  • At the discretion of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum curator staff, non-perishable items will be collected, reviewed, and retained for posterity.

Paving the Way to a More Beautiful World 

Today, a new generation exists in a world defined in many ways by a pivotal event they did not personally experience. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum helps ensure that this generation and the generations to come will understand the significance of the legacies and events of 9/11, so the victims and the events will never be forgotten.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is a place for understanding ourselves and the world we live in. It’s a place to pause and reflect, to stand silent in loving memory of those who have fallen. Set in the very foundations of the World Trade Center—the epicenter of Ground Zero—it is a place for everyone to come together and create a world of peace and hope for generations to come.


Sources

  1. Contributing Writers. “9/11 FAQs.” 9/11 Memorial, 9/11 Memorial, 2020. 911memorial.org/911-faqs
  2. Contributing Writers. “9/11 Memorial Glade.” 9/11 Memorial, 9/11 Memorial, 2020. 911memorial.org/connect/blog/911-memorial-glade-officially-dedicated
  3. Contributing Writers. “9/11 Memorial Visit.” 9/11 Memorial, 9/11 Memorial, 2020. 911memorial.org/visit
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