8.5 years after I first saw the 2 humongous blank spaces where the Twin Towers used to be, I revisited the WTC site and its new memorial & museum. It is still hard for me to wrap my head around the enormity of what are now reflecting pools – I can’t even begin to comprehend what it must’ve been like on that day.
I had reserved a free ticket to the museum (every Tuesday after 5pm if you reserve online 2 weeks before) and I have to say, I am not a big museum goer, but the National September 11 Memorial Museum is one of the most amazing museums I have ever been to. They’ve preserved many artifacts from the site and strategically placed them amongst the (here’s that New York term) ginormous museum.
I won’t bore you with details of everything that’s there, but you go through a series of areas that showcase items they recovered from the wreckage, many of which have special significance.
What you see above is the “Last Column”. This is what the caption said:
On the evening of May 28, 2002, workers representing the trades at Ground Zero – ironworkers, laborers, dock builders, and operating engineers – were given the honor to make small cuts around the Last Column in order to free the column from its footing. In a private ceremony organized by construction workers, the Last Column was lowered onto a flatbed truck while bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.” The column was then shrouded in black and draped with an American flag. Two days later, New York City and the nation publicly saluted the Last Column as it departed from Ground Zero. Police and Fire Department buglers played “Taps,” bagpipers and drummers offered a rendition of “America, the Beautiful,” and NYPD helicopters flew overhead as the column was driven out of the site, marking the end of the nine-month recovery period at Ground Zero.
The layout of the museum was very well thought out too. You start out above ground (so to speak), and the view you get is looking down to where the Last Column and other artifacts are. Eventually, you make your way down, and then you can look back up to where you came from!
There was a place where you could record your 9/11 story and it can be played back through the museum. And also another area where you could write a message and it would appear electronically on a world map, depending on where you are from. Pretty cool. What I also found interesting was that while it was bustling with people outside (and then the wait to go through the airport-type security check), the museum itself was very peaceful, serene, and quiet.
The concrete wall you see in the photo above is what separates visitors to the museum and where the Twin Towers used to stand. Throughout the museum, there are many references to, “You are standing…” and some relation to the WTC site.
Above is one of the fire trucks that was on scene that day and was obviously destroyed. Seeing that was quite a jaw-dropping moment.
The piece of glass you see here is from the South Tower. The caption reads:
Almost all of the more than 40,000 windows in the Twin Towers shattered on September 11, 2001. Only one windowpane, from the 82nd floor of the South Tower, is known to have survived intact. Jan Szumanski, superintendent for Tully Construction at Ground Zero, discovered the unbroken pane of glass still set within a fragment of the South Tower facade that penetrated Church Street. He extricated the glass and was aided in its preservation by Joseph Carsky, Tully’s chief engineer.
I’m not sure exactly how they determined that the glass was from the 82nd floor, but interesting nonetheless.
There was also a separate area – photography and videography prohibited – that went into detail about what happened before, during, and after the series of events. I probably found that area to be the most interesting. It included a lot of video and audio footage from that day, and even talked about the terrorist group behind the attack towards the end (that I wasn’t particularly interested in).
I was exceptionally captivated, though, by one quote by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) that I saw on the wall that read:
There will be no trains running at all today – anywhere.
Wow. The largest rapid transit system in the world. Try to wrap your head around that.
Now, back outside to the reflecting pools. This is one of those places where photos truly cannot capture the size, enormity, ginormousness, of the area. You have to be there to see it for yourself.
Along the edges of the pools list the names of everyone who perished as a result of the attacks. I found myself very shocked when I saw many tourists who were taking selfies and smiling in front of the reflecting pools. Like, do you even know where you are right now?!
Although not a tourist attraction through any positive means, it certainly is an eye-opening and interesting experience going through the museum and visiting the reflecting pools.
Sorry to end with such a gruesome photo, but I found it very, just, wow-I-am-in-awe-I-have-no-words. You know what I mean. Just, wow.