by Ash, New York Guest Concierge
This past weekend, I had my first opportunity to visit the newly opened 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site with close family members. I am very fortunate that we reserved our tickets months ago and were able to be among those to see the superbly crafted tribute just a month into its official opening on the 10th Anniversary of the attacks.
Originally from North Carolina, I have been living in Manhattan since January 1995, and was walking down 5th Avenue to where I then worked at the time the planes hit. I will never forget all what New Yorkers (and our guests) have gone through since that day: first shock and concern; then on to disbelief and anger; followed by resilience and compassion; and now of course healing and pride.
I’m so pleased that the final design of the memorial is so stunning and appropriate. The design is a plaza with two vast black granite squares of waterfalls falling 30 feet into the ground. The names of those killed on September 11, 2001 (including those who died aboard flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, PA and those who perished at the Pentagon) as well as the previous bombing on February 26, 1993 are etched in the surrounding bronze parapet that frames each pool. One World Trade Center (informally known as the “Freedom Tower”) is being built just north of the complex, the 9/11 Museum (scheduled to open September 2012), and all around are other signs of rebuilding. In fact, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum are just a portion of an 8-acre park that will eventually wind around the various buildings at the spot.
The quiet majesty of the two buildings is evident in the subdued vastness of the water that collect in the large pools that stand in the footprints of the twin towers. Admission is controlled, so there isn’t ever a huge crowd – allowing you time to share your own experiences and feelings with those in your party. I also found myself walking alone at times, reflecting in my own thoughts.
One of the most amazing things to see, and one that could be easy to overlook, is a 30 foot callery pear tree that was discovered, with snapped roots and a blackened trunk, in the ruins of the buildings in October 2001. The tree, which was originally planted in the 1970’s, was nursed back to health (now standing over 30 feet tall) and replanted in the WTC Plaza in December 2010. Look for this remarkable tree standing just east of the south pool. It stands as its own quiet ode to how strong and determined any New Yorker – including those of the plant variety – can be!
Though admission to the 9/11 Memorial is often booked months in advance, New York Guest can help book a tour that includes admission to the 9/11 Memorial. Other attractions included in this tour include the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the Firefighter’s Memorial, St. Paul’s Chapel (which served as a triage center during 9/11) and many others. Obviously, this tour is extremely popular and does sell out, so contact your New York Guest trip advisor to book your tour in advance.