National September 11 Memorial and Museum New York City – Visiting Ground Zero

After the Terrible events of that infamous day in 2001, the City got together to build a fitting memorial to the people that were lost. The plan was a three-pronged memorial to permanently commemorate the victims of the terror attacks that rocked the City. First, the Freedom Tower was to be built. Bigger, Brasher and a big up yours to those who tried to disrupt the American way of life. Also a pair of fountains, mirroring the footprints of the towers set in a Memorial Garden/Plaza. And lastly, a museum to educate and remind people of the following generations what exactly occurred on that fateful morning.

National September 11 Memorial and Museum New York City

Our guide to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York City is designed to help you understand what is involved in visiting the area and how to make the most of your trip along with answering a few burning questions a lot of people have. This is one of the most important sites in the USA and we highly recommend you visit during any trip to New York.

IN A NUTSHELL
  • Price
  • Ease of Use
  • Attraction Quality
  • Busyness
  • Uniqueness
  • Bucket list Factor
5

Summary

We have given the National September 11 Memorial Museum 5 stars across all categories. This isn’t because we really think the Attraction is worth a full 5 stars for everything, but more we refuse to review such a sensitive Location too critically. We feel it is just too important to be the subject of a crass internet review. and as such have given it the full 5 just to fit our review template.

We feel this attraction is incredibly important for the city and a true must experience location. Even if you skip the museum and just visit the Memorial and the wonder of the Freedom Tower that has been raised in honour of the victims. If you do visit the Museum its a sobering and moving experience you are unlikely to forget and memories of that day come flooding back.

It is not an enjoyable experience as such but incredibly important. This on one of modern histories most important locale, up there with pearl harbour, Auschwitz, Stalingrad, and the Normandy landing sites. The fact it is still so young and emotions still raw make it a very powerful place. The Museum is an incredible achievement, truly breathtaking and a fitting tribute to the enormity of the Event.

Memorial and Museum Explained

There is some confusion as to what exactly the 9/11 Museum and memorial actually is. This stems from the fact it is actually two separate attractions that are run by the same people. The Memorial is on the ground level of the site of the Twin towers and consists of a pair of manmade waterfalls and large garden/Plaza. The area is open to all and a place for quiet reflection.

The Museum is a separate attraction and is ticketed. The revenue raised goes to fund both the memorial and the museum and is a non-profit organisation.

Cost

The cost of the visiting the Memorial Gardens and fountains is rightly free. This is a place anyone can come anytime to reflect on the events of that fateful day and mourn the loss.

The cost for visiting the Museum is $24 for an Adult, $15 for a youth(7-12) and $20 for a young adult (13-17).

You can purchase just entry to the Museum with a guided tour for $20 extra (all ages). There are a number of other price points for Seniors($20), Students($20), Veterans ($18). 9/11 Family Members and emergency response workers are allowed free entry.

Due to the Huge cultural importance, Every Tuesday after 5:00 pm is also free of charge. However, our page is mainly geared towards tourists in the City and we discourage you taking some of the limited availability of free Tuesday tickets simply as a way to save money. Unless you really can’t afford the entry. If you want to save money consider an Attractions Pass instead?

Memorial

9-11 Memorial South Pool

At the Heart of the memorial are two waterfalls and reflection pools. These are built in the actual footprint of where the twin towers stood. They are surrounded by enormous plaques inscribed with the names of the 2977 People who perished during the attacks along with 6 people who died in the previous terror attack on the WTC in 1993.

The Pools are set in a large Garden / Plaza area where people can come and pay respects to the lost. The area is free to roam around and planted with trees that are begging to reach a good size, a reminder of passing time.

The whole area is overlooked by the Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center as it officially called. This incredible building is a reminder that the terrorists failed in their mission in the long run, and America has recovered and rebuilt since the attack.

The area is essentially a cemetery. The incredibly destructive forces involved in the destruction of the towers meant the remains of many were not recovered and as such the Memorial is their final resting place. As such you should treat the area as if it were a cemetery. Refrain from selfies and other overtly tourist behaviour and simply spend the time there reflecting upon the events. We wish we didn’t need to say this but experience has led us to witness people far less respectful than they should be.

Survivor Tree

An incredible survivor story of the Attack is the Survivor Tree. The Callery Pear tree stood in the grounds of the old WTC and somehow managed to escape the collapse largely intact. The tree remains where in place today and since 2013 cuttings have been taken and sent to other cities that have endured their own terror attacks. Orlando, Madrid and Boston among the recipients. Last year our hometown of Manchester, England was hit by a terrible attack at an Ariana Grande Concert and we have received a cutting from the Survivor tree as a commemoration of the attacks. This makes the tree very poignant for us.

Museum

September 11 Museum Foundation Hall

The Museum is a Ticketed attraction and the proceeds pay for the continued upkeep of both the Museum and the Memorial. The team behind the Museum have put together an incredible exhibit. One truly fitting of the magnitude of the events of that day. This is no collection of memorabilia or artefacts.

As you enter the very small but marvelously architectured museum you can help but feel a bit underwhelmed. its all a bit small and you can’t really see how a suitable museum can be contained within. This is until you realise this really is just the entrance. As you begin to move through the museum you begin to appreciate the enormous scale of the place.

Antenna from the roof of the towersAntenna from the roof of the towers

The Museum is built around the actual foundations of the twin towers. As you head through to the main exhibits you are first presented with a large balcony overlooking the Main Foundation hall. This your first glimpse of the scale. The Slurry wall a huge intact wall that survived the collapse dominates the scene to the left an centre stage is the last column. This column miraculously stayed standing and was used as a focal point during the rescue and recovery stages. It is still adorned with the inscriptions and “missing messages” that adorned it in the days after.

This scene is truly breathtaking and really takes you unawares as you begin to head down the ramp to the main floor. The original stair is still in place but obviously, you take a different route. As you walk around the main level you are literally walking around the foundations of the original buildings and you can still imagine them towering off above you. There a many exhibits and artefacts as you explore the vast area. These include parts of the building columns, pillars and such. Surviving parts of the aircraft that struck the building. There are many artefacts that were recovered from the scene, some of which are heartbreaking. One of the most striking exhibits is a full but heavily damaged firetruck from Ladder 3, A stark reminder of the selflessness of the emergency responders.

911 museum

Destroyed Firetruck of Ladder 3

There is a whole heap of information as to what occurred that fateful day and for us, it was a very emotional reminder of the shock and horror of those days. In the Memorial Hall, a stunning piece of art consisting of 2983 individual unique blue tiles commemorate the dead

We would not say we enjoyed the experience, that is the wrong word. We, of course, with this museum wasn’t here and instead, the towers were still standing and the lives not lost. But that cannot be changed and we found the experience very important. It is a very apt and fitting tribute that really does the enormity of what transpired here justice.

Surviving Slurry WallSurviving Slurry Wall

We simply can’t imagine visiting New York without experiencing the Museum and memorial to the events of that day. It is not an easy trip but it is incredibly worthwhile.

Freedom Tower

freedom tower

Infinity Perspective

One World Trade Center proudly overlooks the whole site and is a constant reminder that the country was not defeated and has rebuilt and carried on. It was a bitter blow for the country and the City but in the end, the terrorist ideal lost and the American way of life won out.

The building was named freedom tower during the design and building but was subsequently officially called One WTC. It is a beautiful building and from close quarters the design makes it appear infinitely tall. It is the tallest building in America and the sixth in the world at a whopping 1776 feet.

While not technically part of the memorial and Museum it’s presence definitely adds to the whole experience. If you want to go to the Observation deck read here. 

Is The Museum Suitable for Children?

Very young children will probably be fine, 4 and under…ish. They are unlikely to fully appreciate what is going on and your bigger issue would be boredom. There isn’t a lot to keep younger kids interested. Older children who are a bit more aware can be more of an issue.

The events of the day were very horrific and it can be hard for children to get their heads around. But the most upsetting exhibits are separate and warnings are given (falling man etc…). We feel a lot of children will be ok and it is more the parents who will suffer from difficult questions. But all children are different and we are sure there are some who would find this a very distressing experience. We think most parents are the best judge of this. You will have seen how your kids react to upsetting things in the past. Be advised the experience IS very emotionally charged. It is a sombre and intense mood in the Museum and you can’t hide from what you are experiencing. If your child is likely to react negatively to that sort of thing it may be best to wait until they are older

Children who are into their teens should be fine. Assuming they are not too easily upset. We think as kids get older it’s important to educate them on these sort of things and as such, the trip would be very beneficial. They might get upset at times but that is not necessarily a bad thing we see many adults getting upset, it is a pretty upsetting experience.

Conspiracy Theory’s – Wasn’t all this faked?

No.

Really we are not big conspiracy theory fans and we find the 9/11 ones about the least convincing. This is the internet though and we are fully aware how many people have come to believe in some sort of conspiracy surrounding 9/11. Some people who are of sound mind and capable of reasoning are completely convinced this was all faked. However, What we are utterly convinced of is on that day Planes stuck the towers, they then subsequently causing the deaths of 2977 innocent people. Whatever you believe these people are dead and this is a tribute to their memory.

The Museum and its artefacts bring this all home very clearly and after a visit here only the most deranged conspiracy nut would question otherwise. This is why places like this are so important so people cannot just decide on their own narrative and ignore the indisputable evidence that is here for all to see.

This doesn’t completely rule out all the possible conspiracy theories, there are plenty of them that don’t preclude the actual loss of the towers and the 2977 people. But we don’t think this is the place to go into that. The Museum and Memorial are here as a tribute to the lost.

Conclusion

We really feel the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is one of New Yorks most important attractions. The attacks of September the 11th 2003 are probably the most significant event of the 21st Century so far. And the cost of 2977 lives deserves something very special to remember them. The Memorial and Museum are fitting tributes and one of New York’s must visit’s.

We have tried to shy away from reviewing the Museum as it feels very crass, instead just tried to explain the experience so you are aware of what to expect during a visit.

 

Let us know in the comments below if you have any other questions or comments. We would love to hear about your experience of visiting. However, we are unlikely to engage with anyone wanting to discuss the conspiracy side of things. Anything else just drop us a comment below or come join us on Facebook.

 

4 comments

  1. I have been to New York and have been to ground zero. At the time, my dad went with us and he did not want to go thru this memorial (it’s hard for him to walk), so we only saw the outside. It looks so amazing, I did not realize there is so much to see. I still remember exactly what I was doing that day this tragedy happened. Next visit back to New York, I will certainly see this.

    1. Hi,

      Yes you should definitely check it out. We were unaware just how big and comprehensive the museum was before we went. The experience definitely brings it all back it was such a momentous day and it all comes flooding back. 

      Thanks for reading

  2. Thank you for sharing the detailed information and experiences of what to expect at the 911 memorial and museum. I appreciate your thorough tribute.

    It was a horrific experience. I remembered hearing about it on the radio from the West Coast that very morning. It was almost like a dream.

    I am not too curious about it at this current time but when I do visit New York, I will stop by and pay my respect.

    1. Hi,

      Yep visiting the experience really brings back all the memories of the day. Must have been strange on the west coast as most of it must have been nearly over by the time you woke up! Being in the UK we watched it all play out in real time. 

      Hope you get to stop by and pay your respects soon. Thanks for reading and for the kind words.

      Steve

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