Ground Zero - World Trade Center, New York City
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.
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.
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.
As we walked around the financial district, I found myself wanting to see the World Trade Center site. Although I never got to see the Twin Towers, everything I saw on TV after the September 11 attacks on New York City left little to the imagination. What people now refer to as "Ground Zero" will soon have a second life, as five new buildings are in the process of being built on the site in addition to the "7 World Trade Center" tower, which was the first new building to be completed in 2006. The 1,776 foot tall "Freedom Tower", scheduled to be completed in 2013, will become New York City's tallest building. A memorial, called "Reflecting Absence", and a museum are also under construction. For those wishing to find out more about what the World Trade Center site will look like once it is completed, it's possible to visit the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site located at 20 Vesey Street (open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, free admission).
Also, right cross the street from where the World Trade Center used to stand is the World Financial Center, a smaller but still interesting complex of four office towers that were designed by architect Cesar Pelli (of Petronas Towers fame) and built in the 1980s. Although security has been increased since September 11, 2001, many areas are still open to the public, including the beautiful winter garden atrium. I also enjoyed visiting the American Express Tower and see the beautiful, intimate memorial dedicated to the 11 American Express employees who died when the nearby Twin Towers collapsed.
Any who take a trip to New York would be well served making a quick trip to the World Trade Center site. Nothing but a big hole exists there now, though the contruction work associated with the new Freedom tower is now on-going as of my last visit in August 2006.
No matter how many times I visit, I am always moved to go there and pay my respects. The makeshift memorials that pop up all around the area are amazing. The offerings that the survivors have left are a poignant reminder of what happened there. Remnants of what was taken on that day. Every piece is a story. Every flower a hero who was lost.
On the fences around the site are plaques with the names of the fallen. As a 9/11 survivor, this place will always be special in my heart. Though it's been five years since that day, I still break down everytime I go there. I hope it moves you as it moves me.
Its funny...we woke up super early today ready to start our first day in the Big Apple and borrowing a map from our friend, headed off into the unknown! I dont know how other people feel about it, but since the terrorists hit NY and London, I dont always feel completely relaxed being in those places, just hoping that they wont strike again when Im there. So we jumped on the metro and headed downtown. We were sure according to the map that Ground Zero would be very close to where we were standing. There was construction going on all around us and we really were a bit confused as to why we hadnt seen a huge big gaping hole in the ground yet. And then we DID!!! But it wasnt half as big an area as I thought it was....in fact, it wasnt very impressive at all. I know that sounds a little odd that i would want something which was generated from something so atrocious to be a good tourist spot, but at the end of the day I thought I was going to be amazed.
We just stood there for a good 15 mins looking around at all the other buildings towering over the hole and images played in my mind of the news clips I saw from that day with people running in terror...it really must have been a very frightening moment not knowing where to go. It was a beautifully sunny but cold day and the whole area looked very impressive.
Everyone remembers where they were on September 11th 2001.
Ground Zero is now partially a memorial and partially a building site once where the twin towers stood. Some people may consider visiting Ground Zero a little tasteless considering the tragedy of its circumstances but for as long as it remains how it was the day when I went there then there is no problem with people paying their respects.
Unlike the rest of NYC, Ground Zero was respectfully quiet - there were plenty of people milling about but the sheer enormity of what occurred here left many people in silent contemplation. I remember noticing some information, photos and drawings of the twin towers and how they compared to another building nearby - the building nearby was huge so it was very difficult for me to imagine the scale of the towers.
Last time in NYC was in September 03, first time after 11th September,2001. The skyline was different, an empty space and i guess an empty space in many hearts!
It's amazing to see the huge space where the Twin Towers were. I was there the aniversary last year and i remenbered when i saw the Towers for the first time 16 years ago, the stomach feeling i had in the elevator, the views...
I have no words that explain what i felt last September.
Since the 9/11 attacks I've been to the World Trade Center twice. Though I'm not an American, each visit provides a very somber moment. I truly do not believe that one can fully contemplate how enormous this attack was, not only on the structures themselves but on the psyche of the American people.
Do go, but observe a respectful silence while you're there. If you'd like to see a satellite view of the World Trade Centre site then click here.
I had no intention of going to Ground Zero - because I consider it to be a graveyard and its a place to be respected....but I had to go by it to get to the store Century 21.
I didn't like it.....had tears in my eyes just thinking about "that day" and all the lives affected - what made it worse? The T-shirt sellers, the tourists taking photos and worst of all people selling photos in flip albums of the two towers burnin.- it breaks my heart that people are making money over such a tragedy in such poor taste.
Needless to say I didn't take a photo of the area. For those of you who are curious - it's all fenced off and resembles a construction site.
For those of you who are planning to go - please have some respect.
Ok, maybe this sounds weird to have it as a must-see, but to me it really is.
Everyone knows what happened on 9/11, everyone saw the images, everyone felt the grief. But standing there really had a big impact on me.
No fringes, no big American flags, just people thinking about this dreadful day and how it was possible that such a terrible thing has happened.
From that day on, everything changed....
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.
I just took some photos of WTC and then I visited the St.Paul’s chapel that is located near by (pic 1). I saw many people using the toilets inside the church during the ceremony and I didn't know if I have to laugh or cry with this! This Episcopal church was built in 1766 and the sign outside says that is Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use. It’s also one of the building that survived the big fire of 1776 when almost a quarter of NYC burned!
There is a spruce tree called “Tree of Hope” planted on 2003 by ground zero workers in place of a giant sycamore tree that was struck down during the collapse of the World Trade Center. (pic 2). The cemetery of the church facing the east side of Ground Zero. For many months after 11/9 the chapel was the rest base for many workers, police officers, fire fighters etc
Then we rested for a while at Liberty plaza (pic 3), a not so nice square where some children were playing classical music(pic 4) and many people were eating their lunch at the job break.
It will always be impossible to see the NY skyline without remembering. In the years since 9/11 Ground Zero has obviously changed quite a lot. Especially before any redevelopment began just being there was a very sobering experience. You could still feel the horror of that day. Maybe some people don't want to visit or can't understand why some people do. I just think you shouldn't ever forget.
Five towers are under construction and are scheduled to open in 2011 and 2012. While the construction is going on there is a walkway around the perimeter that allows visitors to pay their respects.
The Tribute World Trade Center opened September 18, 2006, at 120 Liberty Street near Ground Zero. Founded by the September 11th Families Association to memorialize the events of 9/11, it is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday 12:00 NOON to 6:00 PM. A free walking tour through five exhibits depicts loss, survival, and heroism. One-hour guided tours are available for a $10 donation. The Center is temporary and will be replaced with a permanent museum and memorial, Reflecting Absence. There is also a temporary memorial at Battery Park.
The new PATH train station and the World Trade Center Subway Station are located directly adjacent to the Ground Zero construction site. Only one subway train stops at the World Trade Center Station. From the Port Authority Bus Station on 42nd Street near Times Square, you can take the E train on the Blue Line toward downtown directly to the new WTC Station. The other Blue Line trains stop at Chambers Street just a short walk from Ground Zero. From Time Square Station, all of the Red Line subway trains going downtown also stop at Chambers Street.
"Here come the planes.
They're American planes. Made in America.
Smoking or non-smoking?"
O Superman - Laurie Anderson
One World Trade Center (aka Freedom Tower), is visible from all over New York City. The steel and glass skyscraper has the symbolic height of 1776 feet, and is one of seven buildings replacing the original complex which was largely destroyed in by the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
Around the site, the new glass towers are rising ever higher, and the steel bones of the Santiago Calatrava designed transportation hub are visible through the wire fences.
We find the memorial entrance, and enter the memorial site via the rather desultory entry pass and security check.
The memorial consists of 2 pools into which water falls continuously, surrounded by a wide plaza which is populated by many swamp oaks. The walls of the pools are in large black granite blocks, and they occupy the footprints of the towers that once stood there. Around each pool, inscribed in laser cut brass, are the names of the 2753 victims of the destruction of the buildings. Between the two pools, and still under construction, stands a museum, which for us will have to wait for another day, though through its glass walls we can see the tridents of rusted steel which once made up the facade of the vanished towers. Around each of the pools, people stand in the waning sunlight, as cool breezes waft mists of water from the deep pits into which the waterfalls flow. Thinking and reflection. Ani Di Franco wrote about that day, and I can hear the words of her stream of consciousness rap 'Self Evident' as I stare at the flowing waters and feel the weight of the tragedy that so many saw live on TV.