New York: The 9/11 Memorial Museum

9/11 Museum in New York City

The New York City skyline, with One World Trade Center standing tallest, seen from a ferry on the Hudson River.

NEW YORK — Last year, at my sister’s request, we visited the World Trade Center site, aka Ground Zero, to see the memorial reflecting pools and other features, but this year, with the 9/11 Museum now open, she wanted to return to see the new facility.

So, we did just that.

The museum’s entry is via an elegant multifaceted glass pavilion, which admits lots of light.


The elegant glass pavilion that gives entry to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, seen on a glorious September day.

The museum itself is underground, reaching down about 70 feet to bedrock and extending out under the two reflecting pools that sit atop the footprints of the Twin Towers.

The museum had to go below ground because it is obliged by law to preserve the last remnants of the original World Trade Center, which are at bedrock level, and to give the public “meaningful” access to them.

9/11 Museum in New York City

Foundation Hall, at bedrock level in the 9/11 Museum. The slurry wall, which survived the 9/11 destruction, is seen, along with the last steel beam to be removed from Ground Zero. Its removal marked the end of a nine-month recovery effort.

As a result, visitors see surviving parts of Twin Tower foundations and a retaining wall, called the slurry wall, built to keep the Hudson River from flooding the area. The slurry wall held after 9/11 and saved the city much additional destruction.

It is, of course, a sobering experience to see the 9/11 Museum. My sister and I visited on a gorgeous sunny September day, a day just like Sept. 11, 2001. Even the sun seems somber in such circumstances.

The first things any visitor sees on entry are two 70-foot-tall steel pieces recovered from the Twin Towers and now rising in the pavilion’s atrium. Called tridents because each has three prongs, they were two of many such pieces that were part of the exterior design of the towers.

9/11 Museum in New York City

Tridents, two steel pieces salvaged from the Twin Towers, seen in the glass pavilion that gives access to the 9/11 Museum’s underground exhibits and artifacts.

The tridents together look like an elegant piece of modern art — if you don’t focus on their provenance. Or, they can be seen as hands reaching skyward in supplication.

It’s important to know that the facility’s core exhibition occupies much of the museum’s bottom level. It is called the “September 11, 2001, Historical Exhibition.” We nearly missed it.

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