The New York Museum of Art was established in 1929 with an initial gift of…
We both have vivid memories of watching the events of that tragic day in 2001 unfold after aircraft were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon. I was at work following the story with my colleagues and Karen was at home with the family.
Roll forward less than 18-months and we were in New York with me looking to take up a new role with my employer just north of New York City. We decided to take the trip into lower Manhattan to the site of the World Trade Centre. Most of the rubble had been removed by then and what was left was essentially two huge holes in the ground where the twin towers had stood. Everything was still fresh and raw for New Yorkers. The area around the worksite had been cordoned off with fences which had become a wall on which hung thousands of tributes to those who had lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Being there at that time was one of the most moving experiences of our love.
We lived just north of New York City until 2007, and in that time nothing much happened around the site of the World Trade Center. So, it was exciting to visit again some 14-years later to see how things had changed. And, how things had changed!
Approaching the World Trade Center complex the first thing you see is One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the 7th-tallest building in the World. It is huge! It stands on the northwest corner of the World Trade Center site, on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center.
The area in the heart of the new World Trade Center is now a place for contemplation. There are several symbolic monuments around Liberty Park that remind us of the suffering and pain that came from the attacks on 9/11. They are also symbols of hope and strength.
The Sphere is a large bronze statue that was recently relocated from Battery Park.
The Koenig Sphere, a 25-foot, 25-ton metallic sculpture was originally commissioned by the Port Authority in 1966. Positioned as a centrepiece of the World Trade Center Plaza for decades, the Sphere was both a landmark and a recognizable place for New Yorkers and visitors to gather. It was the only original artwork in the World Trade Center to survive, albeit battered and bruise.
Close by the Sphere is a newer tribute to the efforts that followed the 9/11 attacks. The statue called “De Oppresso Liber” is dedicated to the U.S. troops who responded in those weeks following 9/11. The 18-foot bronze statue depicts a Green Beret soldier on horseback. Its name in Latin means “to liberate from oppressors.”. It recognises the US Special Forces who went into Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 to combat the Taliban.
The Memorial opened on September 11, 2011, 10 years after the 9/11 attacks. The most eye-catching feature of the 9/11 memorial is the two large reflecting pools. Each pool is nearly an acre in size, that sit in the footprints of the former North and South Towers. The pools contain the largest manmade waterfalls in North America, each descending 30 feet into a square basin. From there, the water in each pool drops another 20 feet and disappears into a smaller, central void.
According to the architect, Michael Arad, the pools represent “absence made visible.” Although water flows into the voids, they can never be filled. The sound of the cascading water makes the pools a place of tranquillity and contemplation separate from the bustling noises of the city.
The names of the 2,983 people who were killed in the 2001 and 1993 terrorist attacks are inscribed on bronze parapets edging the memorial pools. The names are grouped by the locations and circumstances in which victims found themselves during the attacks.
More than 400 swamp white oak trees fill the Memorial plaza around the pools. This hardy species of tree is native to the areas of all three 9/11 crash sites: New York City; Arlington, Virginia; and Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The Memorial plaza also includes one Callery pear tree. In October 2001, recovery workers discovered the severely damaged tree at Ground Zero. Members of the New York City Parks and Recreation Department removed it from the site and nursed it back to health. Having survived the events of 9/11, the tree became known as the Survivor Tree. It was returned to the World Trade Center site in 2010 and now stands on the plaza as a symbol of resilience and perseverance.
Close by the 9/11 memorial is the 9/11 museum, on the grounds of the World Trade Center. It is a beautifully conceived museum that uses artefacts from the 9/11 ground zero site and multimedia to bring to life what happened on that day in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania.
One of the first and last things you see is ‘The Last Column’. The Last Column, standing in the centre of the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s Foundation Hall, is covered in thousands of markings and tributes placed on the beam by workers and family members. Originally, painted with yellow paint to mark a search location by a New York Fire Department search team it became a symbol of loss, remembrance and of the community at ground zero and was ceremoniously removed from the site on May 30, 2002, to mark the end of the recovery effort. The beam returned to the 9/11 Museum in 2009.
The historical exhibition tells the story of 9/11 using artefacts, images, first-person testimony, and archival audio and video recordings.
The exhibition is divided into three parts. The first part covers the events of the day as they unfolded. The second section provides historical context leading up to the attacks, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other precursors to 9/11. The third and final area addresses the world after 9/11, covering the immediate aftermath of the attacks through the end of the recovery at the three attack sites, and exploring the ongoing ramifications of 9/11.
Although we’d seen much footage and coverage of the events around 9/11 it was very moving to see it again in such a concentrated way with the artefacts from ground-zero surrounding you. The experience was both sombre and spiritual as we walked around the exhibits hardly saying a word to each other.
As well as the core exhibition called ‘The Memorial Exhibition’ honours the 2,977 individuals killed as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the six individuals killed in the bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.
Planning your visit to the 9/11 Museum & Memorial
|Address:||180 Greenwich St, New York|
|Telephone:||T: (212) 312-8800|
The Memorial is free and open to the public seven days a week. The Museum is open to the public five days a week and requires an advance ticket purchase. Open Thursday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m
In summary …
- The Memorial and Museum are wonderful, particularly if you had any personal experience associated with 9/11
- You can visit the 9/11 Museum as a self-guided tour or you can, for a cost, join a guided tour.
- It will take 2-hours plus to walk around the Memorial and Museum.
Best time to visit New York City
Fall and spring are considered by tourists and locals as the best times to visit, and you can expect pleasant temperatures to reign in the months from April to June and September until November. However, the best times of year to visit New York City for warm-weather activities are from mid-June to July and from early August to the end of September.
Other things to do whilst in New York City
1. BRONX ZOO
The Bronx Zoo is a zoo within Bronx Park in the Bronx, New York. It is one of the largest zoos in the United States by area and is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States by area, comprising 265 acres of parklands and naturalistic habitats separated by the Bronx River.
It is a great place to spend the day with your family, or indeed on your own. The highlights for us are the Congo Gorilla exhibit, JungleWorld, Madagascar and the Wild Asia Monorail.
2. NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDENS
3. STATUE OF LIBERTY & ELLIS ISLAND
The Statue of Liberty is an iconic symbol of the United States of America. You can visit the statue on Liberty Island by ferry from Manhattan and New Jersey. On Liberty Island, there is a museum dedicated to the history of Lady Liberty.
Also, from Liberty Island, you can make the short journey across the water to Ellis Island, which was the reception centre for people emigrating to America. Today, it is a museum run by the National Park Service and an archive where visitors can trace their relatives who made the life-changing journey across the water to start new lives in the United States of America.
4. MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (MOMA)
The New York Museum of Art was established in 1929 with an initial gift of eight prints and one drawing. Today, the collection has grown to approximately 200,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, media and performance artworks; including works from the greatest contemporary artists, including Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Dalí, Warhol, Hockney and Pollock to name but a few.
5. CENTRAL PARK
Central Park is one of the most recognisable parts of New York City anyone who has seen TV series or films made in New York will be familiar with many of it features. It is not just a place for visitors to the city to wander it is also a playground for New Yorkers to come and escape the concrete and brick of the city.
Where to stay in New York City
1. ELEMENT TIMES SQUARE
During our visit to New York, we stayed in the Element hotel which is in the Hells Kitchen district. For us, it was perfectly located and was only a 5-minute walk to Times Square. It was also very close to several metro stations and the main bus terminal. We were feeling a bit stingy and cautious due to the Covid-19 pandemic so we decided to walk from Penn Station to the hotel, which only took us 10-minutes, hauling our luggage.
The room was good, we had a little kitchenette and there were pots, pans, plates and silverware, so we were self-contained. We were lucky enough to be on one of the higher floors, so we had a view. It was also possible to see the Empire State building.
Breakfast is included but nothing to write home about, but there are plenty of places to eat in the area so it was not a problem for us.
2. YOTEL NEW YORK
3. FREEHAND HOTEL
Freehand is located in the former George Washington hotel, known as the home of many artists, and it has maintained its creative spirit. It has a partnership with Bard College and many artists take an active part in designing the hotel and in shaping its cultural life. Freehand features five restaurants and bars, and elegantly designed rooms with private bathrooms. The rooms sleep up to 6 people.
It is located on Lexington Avenue and within walking distance of Union Square, Midtown and Flatiron.