It started to rain just when we got out of the subway station at Cortlandt St. We took our tickets for the memorial at Vesey St, and bought something to eat in an adjacent shop. It was full of people; not tourists, but workers with helmets. Even 12 years after the 9/11 attacks, the Ground Zero area is a construction site; every visit to the city, you get a better idea of what Downtown Manhattan will ultimately look like, even though parts of the area are still closed off by fences. We walked a few blocks to the entrance, where we were ushered into a security check very much like the ones you find at an airport. Crossing the street again, and walking around a high fence, we finally entered the memorial area. After seeing a lot of visitors before, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a lot of space here.
Where once the Twin Towers rose high into the sky, two one-acre pools have been created, with water falling down on all four sides. In the middle of the pool, the water disappears into a square opening. The continuous sound of the falling water blocks the noise from downtown Manhattan, which was precisely the purpose of the designer Michael Arad. He won an international competition to design a memorial for the monumental attacks of September 11, 2001 with the pools, which he called Reflecting Absence. Absence of the towers, of course, but also all those who perished - not only on September 11, but also the victims of the attacks of 1993; as well as those who died in the Pentagon and United flight 93. The names of all those are inscribed in the bronze slabs around the pools. It seems amazing that all approximately 3,000 names actually fit on the plates.
After walking around the South Pool, we walked to the North Pool, where the North Tower once stood. Here, we found significantly less people. The rain was getting more serious now, and since we were without raincoat or umbrella, we sought refuge under a roof at the northern side of the pool. Raindrops were sliding down the black slabs with the names, and it seemed the appropriate weather to see this site. Inevitably, we thought back of the day the towers were destroyed, and I remembered how deeply shocked I had been to see those enormous skyscrapers collapse and disappear forever from the Manhattan skyline, but also how people had been meticulously planning the attacks, seeking to maximise damage and kill as many people as possible. Wind was blowing water of the waterfalls around, and it was a little chilly. After a while, we walked towards the museum that was not open yet, and looked back at the North Pool, with the Freedom Tower rising high above it. The wounds are still there, but the city is also healing and recovering.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from 9/11 Memorial (U.S.A.). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to 9/11 Memorial.
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