Everything you need to know about visiting the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (911 Greenwich St, NY 10006).
It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist, commuter or longtime NYC resident: No visit to lower Manhattan is complete without paying your respects at the September 11 Memorial & Museum. Both the outdoor memorial and accompanying museum are solemn, moving tributes to the nearly 3,000 victims who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and February 26, 1993. Designed by Israeli architect Michael Arad, two of North America’s largest man-made waterfalls mark the footprint of each tower, framing the perimeter and cascading into reflecting pools almost an acre wide. The trees surrounding the area add to the mood of somber, tranquil reflection: Each one was selected from a 500-mile radius of the World Trade Center site, with others brought in from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the other places directly affected on 9/11. While the memorial is impressive on its own, the museum provides a complete picture of the courage and compassion demonstrated locally, nationally and internationally after the attacks, and it’s interspersed with pieces of the towers and other debris recovered by those who risked their own lives to save others. While you should spend an hour or two taking it all in, here are three especially memorable highlights.
RECOMMENDED: 101 best things do in NYC
See an emotional monument
Located between the footprints of the two former towers, the most striking thing about Memorial Hall is the huge art installation by Spencer Finch, Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning. Huge is not an understatement: It features 2,983 individual watercolor squares, each its own unique shade of blue, commemorating those killed during the terrorist attacks on both days. The quote labeling the installation, “No Day Shall Erase You from the Memory of Time,” (from Book IX of Virgil’s The Aeneid), was forged out of steel recovered from the towers by blacksmith Tom Joyce. It’s a promise to those who were lost and a comforting message of hope for their families.
Be inspired by art
Rage, grief, disbelief: Just as the city, country and world tried to make sense of the destruction that took place during the attacks, artists were tasked with the overwhelmingly difficult task of finding beauty in tragedy. The pieces in this exhibit were inspired by journal entries, notes, papers, photos, and other artifacts that were discovered in the days following the attacks. Two worth checking out: World Trade Center as Cloud, which portrays the towers as fluffy clouds made of pressed white linen, and 9/11 Elegies, which incorporates ash and grit from the site with black acrylic into a matrix of layered threads.
Keep standing strong
While the hall contains remnants from both towers, the most interesting pieces are the slurry wall—a piece of the watertight wall constructed for the WTC, the first time the technique was used on such a large scale—and the Last Column, a 60-ton, 36-foot steel column from the South Tower that was found standing after the rest of the debris was removed. Covered in graffiti, flowers, posters and photos, it became an object of veneration after the attacks and continues to symbolize dedication and unity.
Our New York editorial team is constantly updating and reviewing the best attractions, activities and venues across the city, so that you're always in the know, with the best of NYC. at your fingertips. National September 11 Memorial & Museum was most recently updated with new tips on June 26, 2017.