Do not pay for a tour company to take you to the WTC site. Like most things in New York City, this is best experienced on foot. Nearest subway exit is Chambers Street. The actual WTC site is fenced off due to ongoing construction. Around the corner from it, there's a wall with a placard showing the names & photos of the NYC firemen who perished that day.
On my last trip to New York City, in October 2008, I visited Ground Zero. I had never been there before, and probably wouldn’t have gone if not for the fact that our body clock was off, after a long transatlantic flight, and we were wide-awake at 5 a.m.
Slipping quietly out of our apartment in Greenwich Village, taking care not to wake our hostess, we pulled open the heavy black grill door and exited the brownstone building into the cold, dark streets of New York before the sun was up. There was nobody out there. A garbage truck, a couple of people in service coveralls, and that’s about it. The storefronts were dark, apart from a Dunkin’ Donuts, where we picked up a hot drink for the way, and a delicatessen with a heap of gleaming orange pumpkins out front.
We had no map, but we knew the general direction. As we walked, the sun rose and New York began to stir. Ground Zero loomed up in front of us: Eight years after the fall of the Twin Towers, the place is a gigantic construction site completely surrounded by a corrugated iron fence that completely blocks it from sight.
As we stood there, observing the cranes and bulldozers and work crews running here and there, the gate suddenly swung open, allowing us a fleeting glimpse of the gaping hole in the ground that has left a gaping hole in so many hearts.
Directly opposite that gate was the fire station that lost many of its men that day. On the curb, a fireman was hosing down a firetruck emblazoned with the names of firefighters who died. Their names glittered in the morning sun.
For all who are drawn to the World Trade Center site, please do not patronize the illegal street vendors who profiteer off the tragedy known as 9/11. They are there Illegally, selling what is considered "disrespectful contraband". I am a 9/11 Worker who has had my life changed forever, for what I have seen and experienced that day and weeks that followed.
I worked in the Towers for nine years prior, and have personally lost six friends that day.
If you have it in your heart to respect those who had their lives taken from them, please be respectful of the loss.
Most of these street vendors are illegal immigrants, who were thousands of miles away at the time of the attacks, found their "nitch" to profiteer. I personally have physically pushed them off the site. But they return shortly afterwards. If you see one, please notify the police.
Please understand that the loss of life to the innocent should not be disrespected. I know that you will abide with this unwritten law, and co-operate. Thank you, and pray for the souls who are bound to that site. God bless you.
I’m indebted to VT friend Pete (pchamlis) for pointing me towards this not-to-be missed, very moving experience. This church stood almost in the shadow of the Twin Towers, but miraculously escaped any damage. In the months following 9/11, it served as a refuge for rescue workers, a triage centre for victims, and as a beacon of hope for the city.
For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12 hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counselling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others. I had failed to appreciate until now quite how many ordinary Americans had selflessly given up their time, and in many cases left home and family, to devote themselves to this relief effort. Today, memorials of that harrowing time are on permanent display here. As you walk around the church you will see various exhibits that pay tribute to those who served here. Among the sights are a moving collection of teddy bears and other stuffed toys – people all over the country sent these so that each recovery worker could have one beside them as they slept on cots in the church, between their shifts at Ground Zero. Another area displays mementoes of the victims, while another pays tribute to the official services such as fire fighters and police, and yet another has colourful paper birds sent in sympathy by the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The cross in my main photo was made from steel and other remnants salvaged from the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Even if it weren’t for the role this church has played in the recent history of the city, it would still be worth a visit. It is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use. When was completed in 1766, it stood in a field some distance from the growing port city to the south, but today is surrounded by the skyscrapers of the city’s financial district. George Washington worshipped here and his pew is much as it was in his day. During the post 9/11 period it was used by podiatrists treating the feet of the volunteers – an apt reminder of Washington’s foot soldiers. Other famous past worshippers include George Clinton, the first Governor of the State of New York; Prince William, later King William IV of England; Lord Cornwallis, famous his surrender at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781; Lord Howe, who commanded the British forces in New York; and Presidents Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and George H. W. Bush.
Outside in the churchyard you can see the stump and roots of the sycamore tree that shielded the chapel and churchyard on 9/11, thus preventing it from damage or destruction by the falling towers. There is also a memorial bell, a gift from the City of London to New Yorkers.
The church is open Monday – Saturday, 10.00 AM – 6.00 PM, and Sunday 8.00 AM – 4.00 PM. Please do go and see this poignant exhibit.
One of the highlights of our previous visit to New York in 1982 was a visit to the World Trade Center and ascent to the top of one of the towers – truly the most amazing city view I have ever seen, thought not one for anyone with a fear of heights (the floor to ceiling glass windows made the view of the street below really dizzying). It was this view that kept playing in my head in the weeks after 9/11, and for a while I felt I never wanted to go back to New York and see the empty space where the towers had been. But after a while I changed my mind and realised that I had to go back, to keep the faith with the city that had made such a huge impression on me years before. And so on our second day of this visit we made our pilgrimage to Ground Zero.
Where the towers once stood, and where that (literally) earth-shattering drama unfolded, is now a huge building site. If anyone could have somehow slept through or otherwise missed the events of September 2001 they would pass by without thinking any more than what an enormous construction project this must be. But if you pause for more than a few minutes, the signs are there – an information board detailing the events of that awful day, a group of tourists listening to a guide explain what happened where, and here and there a memento fixed to the chain link fence that surrounds the site.
For a really good overview of the scale of the building work here, that will lead eventually to the raising of a new tower, the Freedom Tower, walk west along Vesey Street and ascend the escalator to the footbridge. Another way to see what’s going on, even if you aren’t in New York at all, is to check out this webcam.
To learn more about 9/11, the recovery work in the months after it and plans for the future of this part of downtown, you could visit the Tribute World Trade Center at 120 Liberty Street. We felt though that our visit to St Paul’s Chapel (see separate tip) gave us the strongest possible impression of that short but momentous period in New York’s history, one that no museum could better, so we gave this a miss, though I have read good reports of it.
So after all my doubts, I am ultimately pleased that I came here and saw Ground Zero for myself – but I will be even more pleased to come back in the future and see the Freedom Tower soaring over the city where once the Twin Towers stood.
Who needs any explenation about this site? This is the place were 2 planes crashed into the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001. In 2008 they were busy in restoring the place to make a statue to remember what happened back then.
We were not too sure what to expect at Ground Zero.
We took a bus there and walked around the area for a while, taking it all in. The area is abuzz with activity, from construction workers, to tourists milling around the fringes of the area, to construction vehicles.
When you see how tall the current surrounding buildings are there, and double their size, you realise just how huge the Twin Towers actually were!
The enormity of what happened that fateful day hit us both again. There is such evil in the world.
We spotted the lovely old church, St Pauls', alongside Ground Zero that played a pivotal role in helping those affected on 9/11… it is a beautiful old building, in stark contrast to the much larger and sleeker modern buildings all around it.
With the area having a flurry of activity it takes the sombreness of the place away. We left, feeling the better for having been there and having got a better insight into 9/11.
I have been to NYC a couple of times after 9/11 but never had a chance to visit 'Ground Zero' until recently. I must say it much more emotional of an experience that i had anticipated. Just standing there gazing at this empty space in the middle of the city takes you back to that awful day. You can read all the comments people wrote on the fences all the different messages and poems of peace and it just makes you feel really fortunate to still be alive. Even though its a overwhelming its important for us to go and visit as a tribute to all the brave men and women that we lost that day.
Although I do not consider this to be called a tourist attraction, it was important for me to visit this area. I cannot imagine what this area looked like on that fateful day. It is a huge area, much bigger than I thought. These twin buildings must have been very impressive and prominent. I do think I have a better understanding of what the impact was on the city of New York. I do hope that something like tis would never ever happen again.
The photographs and artifacts taken and collected by Gary Soson, the official FDNY photographer for the Ground Zero recovery effort, place a personal and human element to the images most of us saw on television of the towers falling.
The museum itself is a small one-room apartment in the middle of the Meat Packing District a stone throw away from the Chelsea Piers. Don’t let the small space fool you though as every square inch of wall is covered with photos and artifacts. The introduction video is particularly moving as well as an exhibit dedicated to the search and rescue dogs that were a major part of the recovery effort.
Admission costs a bit high for the small exhibit space, but a portion of the proceeds go to various funds for the families of 9/11 victims.
More photos at:
Casablanca Hotel New York City
1 Review and 2449 Opinions This is a Hotel /Bed and Breakfast. It is a oasis in the middle of Times Square. It is quiet inside...
Library Hotel New York City
3 Reviews and 1744 Opinions The Library is a good little hotel but the frustration is it could be a great hotel. Great concept...
Hotel Giraffe New York City
2 Reviews and 1492 Opinions We stayed for one night during the week to celebrate our anniversary. It was a lovely place to...
see all New York City member meetings