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