As the National 9/11 Memorial opens to the public at ground zero in New York City, I like you, feel compelled to make a pilgrimage – to gaze into the reflecting pools, finger the names of so many lost, and try to bring some sense of closure to the dark terror attack that has scarred our souls for so many years. The former World Trade Center site will continue t be a construction zone for several years to come, so access to the memorial will be somewhat limited for the foreseeable future and advance planning for your visit is crucial.
Tickets for access to the 9/11 memorial must be secured in advance and can be ordered online at 911memorial.org. Tickets are free of charge, but must be reserved for specific dates and times. Tickets can be reserved up to six months in advance and confirmations can then be printed out prior to your visit. Entrance to the 911 memorial park is at the northeast corner of Albany and Greenwich Streets, and you are asked to arrive no more than 30 minutes prior to your designated tour time. The 911memorial.org site offers special access information for relatives of 9/11 victims. The memorial opens at 10 a.m. daily with the last entry time of 7:00 p.m. in summer and 5 p.m. in winter. Photographs are permitted at the memorial. Already over 250,000 reservations have already been made for the coming months.
The mememorial today consists of two reflecting pools built in the original footprints of the World Trade Center towers. The pools are rimmed with gentle cascading waterfalls that are the largest man-made waterfalls in America. Bronze parapets edge the waterfalls bearing the names those lost in the attacks of 9/11 at ground zero, Shanksville, PA, the Pentagon, and victims of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Surrounding the reflecting pools is a wooded park studded with over 200 white oak trees. The park will eventually have 400 oak trees, as well as “the survivor tree”, a pear tree that was rescued from the rubble and nursed back to health.
There are a number of convenient subway stops nearby for walking to the memorial including Fulton Street and Chambers. A stop directly at the site is currently under construction. It is important to note that at this time there are no restroom facilities available at the site, so plan ahead. Next year when the 911 museum opens at the site, there will be food and comfort facilities available.
For everyone who would like a more personalized tour of the area, the September 11 Families’ Association offers small group tours led by survivors, 9/11 workers and family members of those lost. These tours are offered daily, departing from the World Trade Center Visitors Center. Advance schedules can be found at their website TributeWTC.org. You should arrive at least 1 hour before prior to a scheduled tour departure. Advance reservations can be made for groups of 10 or more.
Lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center area today has many more hotels and restaurants than it did on 9/11/01. There are waterfront parks, museums, shops and many attractions to fill a full day of touring. NYC & Company, the official tourism bureau for New York City, has extensive information for touring and staying in Lower Manhattan. New York City Vacation Pakcages offers an extensive Walking Tour of Ground Zero, Wall Street and Lower Manhattan (entrance to the memorial not included). You will also find great info at the Downtown Alliance of New York.
God Bless America and all who live and visit here in Freedom.