It was... how do I put it... rather eerie. There I was, standing in the spot where 3,000 innocent people were killed.
I took the no. 1 train downtown to the Rector Street station. The Cortlandt Street/West Broadway station is still closed after 10 years. The attacks completely destroyed the station on September 11th, 2001. Without a tunnel, the 1 train now travels "above ground while still underground" at the same time.
I made my reservation to enter the Memorial for the 7pm slot. I wanted to be there during sunset and watch the lights turn on in the surrounding buildings.
After an international design competition, the chosen design includes two huge reflecting pools (essentially waterfalls) in the footprints of the former twin towers.
Also on the site is the National September 11th Memorial Museum, which was closed when I visited the Memorial.
Engraved along the outer rim of each pool are the names of those who perished in the 1993 and 2001 attacks.
I was struck by the contrast between old and new:
If you think about it, those old buildings behind the Memorial somehow managed to survive the attack. They bear witness to the atrocities that happened on that day.
I walked around the perimeter of each reflecting pool, thinking about how two gigantic buildings once stood in these spots.
On my way out, I passed through the beautiful plaza, filled with dozens of swamp white oak trees.
One tree stood out from the others:
This tree is the only tree to survive the attack. Upon discovery, the tree was moved to a nursery where it has been re-growing for the past 10 years.
As I left the Memorial, I turned around and saw the new Freedom Tower rising above the scene. The lights had turned on by then.
It felt so serene at the Memorial. Rather quiet, with a light breeze and beautiful weather. What a difference from the turmoil I remember in 2001.
I see the Memorial as a tale of hope and survival. The old buildings, the surviving tree... those who escaped alive and those who didn't... and now the rebuilding.
I think the Memorial is very well done. Drop by to check it out, but be sure to make reservations first. It's free.