Pause and Reflect ~ 9/11 Memorial, NYC

Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.

~ President Barack Obama

9/11 was a tragedy that affected the world. The United States, and many other countries and individuals, were changed after that day.

Walking through the 9/11 Memorial today, September 10, 2012, I felt calm in a space that I’d been fearing to visit ever since it had opened to the public. Fear associated with stepping into the unknown; a place that I imagined would overwhelm with painful emotions.

Instead it’s a beautiful tribute that honours lives lost, as well as the bravery and courage exemplified by those who dedicated their help. The Memorial immortalises human spirit, and is symbolic of NYC’s strength.

This is a series that starts with a ferry ride from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to downtown Manhattan, which then focuses on the 9/11 Memorial with commentary from literature collated by its Museum.

~ Please click on the images to enlarge, as their detail is lost in the body of this post.

Above: Brooklyn’s DUMBO to the right, punctuated with the Watchtower Building.

Below: The Brooklyn Bridge introduces downtown Manhattan, dominated by the 1 World Trade Centre in the background. When constructed, it will be the tallest building in the US.

Below: A building of the World Financial Centre reflected in one of the World Trade Centre towers.

The 9/11 Memorial opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. It consists of two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers. These are where the towers used to stand. 32 foot waterfalls – the largest in North America – cascade into the pools, each then descending into a center void.

The nearly 3,000 names of the victims of the 9/11 and 1993* attacks are inscribed in bronze around the perimeters of the two pools. The arrangement of names is based on layers of meaningful adjacencies that reflect where the victims were on 9/11 and the relationships they shared with others who were lost that day, honoring requests from victims’ families for specific names to be next to one another.

*In February, 1993, terrorists detonated explosives in the garage underneath the WTC, killing 6 people and injuring thousands. On 9/11, the entire complex was destroyed.

Below: For the first few years that the Memorial is open, visitors can witness the rebuilding taking place around them…

All but one of the trees on the Memorial are swamp oaks. The exception is the callery pear tree known as the “Survivor Tree.” This tree was planted on the original Worl Trade Center plaza in the 1970s, and stood at the eastern edge of the site near Church Street, After 9/11, workers found the damaged tree, reduced to an 8 foot tall stump, in the wreckage at Ground Zero.

The tree was nursed back to health in a New York City park and grew to be 30 feet tall, sprouting new branches and flowering in the springtime. In March 2010, the tree was uprooted by severe storms, but true to its name, it survived.

In December 2010, the tree returned to WTC site. Standing just west of the south pool, it embodies the story of survival and resilience that is so important to the history of 9/11. Today, the tree is supported by temporary guide wires as it takes root.

The Memorial was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker. The design was selected through an international competition that received 5,201 submissions from 63 countries.

When the entire site is complete, the surrounding plaza will include more than 400 swamp white oak trees. The trees were selected from nurseries within a 500 mile radius of the 3 attack sites.

Inscribed at the base of this sculpture in Battery Park, located in Manhattan’s southernmost tip that overlooks the new World Trade Centre towers:

For 3 decades, this sculpture stood in the plaza of the World Trade Center. Entitled “The Sphere,” it was conceived by artist Fritz Koenig as a symbol of world peace.

It was damaged during the events of September 11, 2001 and endures as an icon of hope and the indestructible spirit of the country. The sphere was placed here on March 11, 2012 as a temporary memorial to all who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.

~ Endurance is the crowning quality, and patience all the passion of great hearts. ~ James Russell Lowell


52 thoughts on “Pause and Reflect ~ 9/11 Memorial, NYC

  1. It is very impressive, and moving too, to see the way the Americans have chosen to remember this tragedy. Thank you, Marina, for sharing it with us. I don’t think I’ll ever see this place. But I think about it often.

    • Thank you Shimon. The area has been undergoing construction for a while now, and there’s alot of emotion, labour, and love going into the building of the space. I am glad to share the photos with you.

    • Thanks so much sweetkitten. The tree makes such a wonderful story and you know, I believe there is a movie about it – produced by Steven Spielberg. I caught a little bit of it a year ago on TV but haven’t seen the full film. The bombings at Oklahoma City also have a tree that survived the attacks, and that makes for a story in parallel. The power of nature.

  2. Marina, just saw your post after you reflected on my post about Ground Zero. Thank you, for sharing your images and informations, there is so much more I couldn’t see when I was there. Your images are awesome, Of course I like the reflections of the clouds. Loved the story about the survivor tree….and the waterfalls, that’s amazing. It seems like we both experienced the same emotions , the calm! Great messages.

  3. A very moving and fitting tribute Marina. Beautiful pictures. I know exactly how you felt about visiting this site, I would have felt the same and yet, as you’ve demonstrated, it’s a place of remembrance that celebrates the human spirit, resiliant to the evil minority that seek only to destroy.

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  5. Beautiful post, I remember well standing shocked and unbelieving with colleagues in my office in London as we watched the horror unfold that day. Just two months later, I was in New York standing at the permiter of the site quietly watching the still smoking ruins. Again in 2005, I walked round the site as work had commenced on the memorial. So great to see these images and how tranquil that site is now…a must do on my next visit. Thank you, Marina.

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  8. I’m glad you finally visited the memorial Marina. It truly is a beautiful place for reflection of this tragic day. The simplicity of design, the thoughtfulness in combining the names of those who worked together on the plaques and the symbolism of the survivor tree combine to create a sensitive tribute to a day that will not be forgotten.

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  13. The pictures are magnificent Marina! Such a pleasure to look at them and the sky is so blue! I remember that day, I was back home watching tv when I saw the news and couldn’t believe my eyes, My first thought was that it’s not real, it must be a movie…

    • hi K, thank you so much. It’s a beautiful space and there’s a display of strength in nature and spirit. I remember my dad waking me up during the night, telling me what had happened. I watched the news with him and like you, was shocked. That was the year after I had visited NY for the first time, and it made me love and feel for the city even more. Thank you for sharing your experience – it helped me share mine πŸ™‚

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