I understand why tour guides in Washington, DC say if you visit the Holocaust Museum to make it the only thing you do that day. It’s upsetting and emotionally draining, which is why I’ve never stepped foot in the museum. Yet as a native New Yorker I did something I never thought I would be able to do. I visited the 9/11 memorial and museum.
It’s not for the faint of heart.
The Memorial Plaza, pictured above, is a tribute to every person who perished on September 11, 2001 and the six who died during the bombing on February 26, 1993. Their names are engraved in bronze around the memorial pools.
This is a very busy area but everyone is extremely respectful. They’ll make room for you so you can see everything. There are signs throughout the area reminding people to please be respectful because this is a memorial. So while taking photos is perfectly fine I would suggest refraining from selfies and big group photos. You will find people there that are survivors or lost someone from the attacks. You will also see people openly crying. So keep that in mind when you’re visiting.
There are plenty of benches in the plaza so you can take your time visiting the area. It’s nice to also sit back and reflect. While I was sitting down I heard a few people sharing their stories where they were during the attack. So if you’re interested in hearing other people’s first hand accounts and they’re open to talking you can always politely approach them.
After sitting in the plaza for awhile I think it’s a personal decision whether you want to visit The National 9/11 Memorial Museum. While I’m glad I went, I think for me it was too much. I was already getting emotional sitting outside. When I walked through the museum doors I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle it. So I rightfully cannot recommend you visit the museum but if you are in New York you should visit the plaza and the reflecting pools.
If you’re interested in visiting the museum the ticket prices vary. I paid $24 for an adult ticket. However, they have discounts for children, seniors, college students and U.S. Veterans. You can check out the ticket prices on the website here.
The line for tickets was extremely long and was barely moving. I strongly suggest you purchase your tickets online in advance. They can scan the QR code at the entrance so you don’t even have to print them out.
When you walk in the first thing you will see are the World Trade Center tridents. These columns are two of the eighty-four tridents that formed the perimeter of the North Tower.
There are several quotes about the World Trade Center from before the attacks on the museum walls. Interestingly enough the World Trade Center was built to help revitalize Manhattan. The north tower opened in 1970 and the south in 1972. Even though they were both open, they weren’t complete. Both of their skyscrapers were still being built.
Once the towers were complete, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 4, 1973. This stainless steel pedestal was installed to commemorate the occasion.
Since the towers were so close to the Hudson River they had to figure out a way to prevent river water from flooding the site. They built a slurry wall, a concrete retaining wall, to prevent any damage. The wall held up during the attack and a portion of it was preserved and is pictured above.
The Last Column was chosen to symbolically mark the site as they finished recovery of the World Trade Center. Recovery workers, first responders, volunteers and relatives signed the column and placed photos of the victims on it.
Created in 2014 by Spencer Finch, Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning, is composed of 2,983 individual watercolor drawings. It was an attempt by the artist to remember the color of the sky on the morning of September 11, 2001 and to commemorate the victims of 9/11 and those from the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
The letters were forged from recovered pieces of the World Trade Center by artist Tom Joyce.
Pictured above is a segment of the North Tower antenna.
The firefighters from Ladder Company 3 were assigned to aid civilians in the North Tower on 9/11. They reached the 35th floor by 9:21 am. Captain Patrick “Paddy” John Brown reported burn victims. He thought the fire was on the 75th floor so he and his team continued to go up. All 11 responding members of Ladder Company 3 were killed when the building collapsed at 10:28 a.m.
The shirt pictured above was worn by a U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six member during the raid where Osama bin Laden was killed on May 1, 2011.
Commemorative coins were created after Osama bin Laden was killed and Operation Neptune Spear concluded. One side marks the date, the other is a big red X. According to the information in the museum, President George W. Bush kept a list on his desk of key al-Qaeda operatives still at large. He used to make a red X mark when one of them was killed, captured or exposed.
In 2001, as everyone in Times Square prepared to ring in the New Year, NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani released an engraved crystal ball in memory of the first responders and victims of 9/11 at 11:59pm.
The last thing you will see in the museum is a mural that was created for the people of New York City. It was created by students in South Carolina at the Porter Gaud School. They drew pictures that expressed their understanding of patriotism. Their art teacher, Laura Orvin, sent the banner to Mayor Giuliani. It was placed on a wall at the children’s area of the Family Assistance Center to aid relatives of 9/11 victims.
For me, the mural was the perfect way to end my visit at the museum. It gave me a sense of hope and reminded me just how strong we are.
There are plenty of pictures and other things to see that I didn’t share because I didn’t feel completely comfortable taking a photo of everything. If you can handle it they also show short documentaries about 9/11 and the aftermath. There is also a room filled from top to bottom of photos of the victims along with some momentos from their families. You’ll also hear an endless loop of their names being read aloud like they do every year on TV to honor them on 9/11.
When you leave the museum I highly recommend taking a walk around the plaza. It’ll help you collect yourself and your thoughts.