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9/11 Memorial & Museum in Photos


September 11, 2001. 9/11.


Anyone in their 30s or older remembers where they were at 7:46 a.m. (CST), or shortly thereafter as they heard the first reports on their televisions and radios.


I was driving down the highway along the Mississippi River, just south of the I-80 bridge, when news came on my radio that a small airplane had somehow struck New York City’s World Trade Center. It sounded like an accident, or maybe some kind of perverse kamikaze-like suicide.


By the time I parked outside my office in downtown Davenport, IA, 20 minutes later, the news was much, much worse.


Two airplanes had flown into NYC’s Twin Towers, a third struck the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and a fourth crashed in a field, 80 miles east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


The United States was under attack.


We all know the details. In a highly-coordinated plan, al-Quaeda terrorists hijacked planes and intentionally flew them into the buildings. The fourth crashed due to the bravery of passengers on board.


The United States would spend the next 20 years at war in Afghanistan.


NYC 9/11 Memorial


NYC’s 9/11 Memorial is built on the original site where the Twin Towers once stood. It’s a massive 110,000-square-foot building.


Visitors enter at street level and descend downward to the exhibition spaces, entering much of the original construction of the buildings and becoming enveloped by its concrete walls and iron supports.


The memorial tells the story of the attacks, what happened following them, as well as a history of the Twin Towers and how they were constructed. It includes memories of the earlier 1993 World Trade Center bombing.


It comes as no surprise that it is a very moving experience.


I hope you will forgive me, there is so much to tell about visiting the memorial, I’m not even going to make an attempt.


Instead, below are some of the photos I took along the way with corresponding information for each. These are by no means a complete inventory of all there is to see.


To learn more, I encourage everyone to visit the memorial’s official website. It’s packed with information.



Outside the museum, covering eight acres of land, are twin pools, one for each of the Twin Towers buildings, entitled Reflecting Absence.


The names of the 2,983 people killed in both the 2001 and 1983 terrorist attacks appear around the edges of the two pools.


White roses placed at individual names signify it is that person’s birthday. They are placed by staff members in the morning, prior to the memorial opening.


The pools contain the largest man made waterfalls in North America. The water falls 30 feet from the top into a large basin and then, in the center, flowing toward, and disappearing into, a smaller center square.



The wing-shaped above-ground building at the memorial is the Oculus.


Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it is intended to represent a dove leaving a child’s hands.


The building’s construction took 12 years to complete, opening in 2016. It is 335-feet long and 160-feet tall.





Inside, the Oculus is illuminated with natural light cascading downward, through its wings.


The center functions as a transportation hub, serving the city’s train line and connecting to more than 10 other subway lines. There are also a number of retail businesses and dining establishments. (Top photo of building interior. Bottom photo from the subway line.)



In the immediate aftermath of the attack, posters were hung throughout the city and especially near the Twin Towers site, searching for the missing.


Nearly 1,100 human remains recovered from the buildings have yet to be identified. They are stored at the memorial site.


Work continues to identify the victims. As recently as last year, the remains of two were identified.


Some of the posters and flyers used to search for the victims are projected on columns the visitors pass when entering the museum.


The most emotionally moving area of the building is a room filled with photos of the victims. Kiosks within the room tell stories about each of the victims. Out of respect for them and their families, taking photos is not allowed.



The Survivors’ Stairs. These stairs connected the northern edge of the World Trade Center’s Austin J. Tobin Plaza to the Vesey Street sidewalk below.


Hundreds of survivors escaped the towers before they collapsed via the stairs. To get to the stairs, many were forced to cross the plaza beneath falling debris from the North Tower.


“Go down this set of stairs and then just run, run as fast as you can.” - New York City Police Department Emergency Service Unit Lieutenant David Brink, recalling what he told those escaping the tower. (From a display sign at the bottom of the stairs.)



Twisted steel I-beams, weighing several tons, on display in the museum. Pictured left is facade steel from between the North Tower’s 96th and 99th floor.


At right, the steel takes on an almost sculptural appearance. This steel is from the same general area as that on the left. It was mangled by the underbelly of the aircraft crashing into the building.



The Last Column. The last column removed from the South Tower, a 36-foot-tall piece of steel, is now on display in the heart of the museum.


The column, located in the area of the tower’s main lobby, was the last reported location for first responders just before its collapse.


The remains of Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Squad 41 firefighters were found in the area. A surviving member of the squad painted “SQ41” on the column with other agencies soon after doing the same.


The column was cut down and removed from the site in two ceremonies that marked the completion of the recovery period at Ground Zero. On the evening of May 28, 2002, trade union members cut the Last Column from its footing in a private ceremony held by and for recovery and relief workers. Workers then laid the column, shrouded in black and draped with an American flag, onto a flatbed truck. Bagpipers played "Amazing Grace." - From the 9/11 Memorial website.



Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning.


Artist Spencer Finch created this piece, the blue watercolor squares representing each of the 2,983 victims. It symbolizes the idea of memory and the color of the sky we, as individuals, remember that September morning.


The Virgil quote on the wall comes from Book IX of The Aeneid. The letters were created by artist Tom Joyce using steel recovered from the World Trade Center.



The museum’s Educational Gallery features a rotating display of artwork related to the attack.


World Trade Center: Concrete Abstract, left, was created by photographer Shai Kremer using more than 60 images depicting the enormous task of rebuilding at the trade center site.


Red, White and Blue, right, is by artist Anthony Graviano and recognizes the unity of spirit generated by 9/11, “where no one thing mattered, politically, religiously, or anything else; all citizens of this mixed pot came together.”



Renaissance Peace Angel


In the early 1990s, artist Lin Evola was inspired to create a series of figural sculptures cast from decommissioned guns and other weapons. This conceptual art project aimed to transform weapons into unifying symbols of peace. Evola cast this initial bronze sculpture, titled Renaissance Peace Angel, later adding a plaque created from melted weapons.


Prior to 9/11, Evola hoped to display the sculpture within the World Trade Center complex. Shortly after the site’s destruction, she met Antonio “Nino” Vendome, who had established a 24-hour-a-day canteen for rescue and recovery workers at his family’s restaurant, Nino’s, on Canal Street in lower Manhattan. Vendome agreed to install Renaissance Peace Angel in front of the restaurant. The sculpture became a landmark for Ground Zero workers and volunteers, many of whom signed its cement base. - From the museum display accompanying the statue.



Workers constructing the World Trade Centers dug a trench around the perimeter of the site and filled it with a mixture of clay and water. The “slurry wall” was watertight and protected the site from nearby Hudson River.


The quote on the wall, right photo, reads: In spirit, the Trade Center is a United Nations of Commerce. In concept, the Trade Center is a marketplace for the Free World. In operation, the Trade Center will be a thriving city within a city, the dynamo of the port’s trade with the world. - Austin J. Tobin, executive director of the Port Authority, 1966



The South Tower grillage, a steel support grid used to secure the tower’s heavy columns. Each of the towers had 47 interior columns. Together, the column and grillage supported a load of one million tons.



Top, the motor from one of the towers’ 99 elevators. It was the largest in the world when originally installed, moving at a speed of 1,600 feet per minute.


Bottom, a piece of the 360-feet-tall transmission towers attached to the top of the twin towers buildings. This piece is 19.8 feet long and would have been just below the tower’s halfway point.



Ladder Company 3 truck, originally parked along West Street, not far from the Survivors Stairs mentioned further above. The truck was destroyed by falling debris as the tower collapsed.


Eleven of the company’s firefighters, who had gone off duty after finishing their overnight shifts, returned and entered the North Tower.


Three of the company’s members died that day.



American flag raised during the afternoon of September 11. A firefighter saw the flag on a nearby yacht and he, along with another, raised it on a 20-foot pile of debris at the World Trades Center site.


Photos from the moment have been compared to the World War II photo of US Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.


The memorial is operated by a not-for-profit organization and there is a fee to enter. The money going toward the memorial’s upkeep and other expenses.


Depending on when you visit, I’d encourage you to think about purchasing tickets in advance. Darling Daughter and I were there in May which is a slow time, so we had no problem getting tickets at the door. But other times of the year, especially summer months, it can be a very busy place.


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**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address, alansheaven.com, or a link back to this page.

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