Few single events have transformed the landscape, culture, and history of New York City as much as the tragedy of September 11, 2001. While there was never a question of whether or not to rebuild on the site (which resulted in the impressive and inspiring Freedom Tower), the debate surrounding how to properly memorialize the event continued for years. After years of planning and input, the resulting outdoor memorial opened in 2011 with the associated museum opened three years later. Together, the memorial and museum strike a perfect balance between mourning the loss, celebrating the heroes and showcasing the hope and recovery. A visit to the memorial and museum have become necessary stops for both locals and tourists.
What You Will See
The memorial sits in the footprint of the two towers that were felled on September 11, with the names of those who died engraved on the wall surrounding the holes. The museum contains a collection of photographs (over 40,000), audio recordings, documents, and other items associated with that day. Visitors walk through a detailed timeline of events, reliving key moments through the eyes of victims, survivors, responders, and others impacted. The museum also displays relics from that day--bent steel beams, burned phones, crushed cars. These are a new kind of readymade art--violence and terror transforming and sanctifying every day objects into reminders and memorials. It is a somber place to visit but ultimately ends with hope and determination.
Why You Should Go
A visit to the museum is a pilgrimage. The events of that day have defined the modern world more than any other, and everyone who lived through it retains detailed memories of their own experiences. While it is painful to relive details and to learn of new tragedies, those who take the time to respectfully visit the memorials and learn in the museums find some healing and comfort through the pain. A tragedy of this scope can never be fully memorialized or properly consecrated--far above our poor power to add or detract, as Lincoln said. But an unforgettable day at the museum allows visitors to fulfill to the imperative that came out of those events: "Never Forget"