A decade after September 11, 2001, Ground Zero still attracts thousands of visitors who come to connect with the events that unfolded here. From the long-awaited opening of the National 9/11 Memorial to a grass roots gathering of people joining hands in Lower Manhattan, here’s an overview of what to see and do to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
What to See
At this writing, the Freedom Tower has 81 floors built (the observation deck will be on the 105th floor); the 9/11 Memorial reflecting pools are complete; and the Memorial Museum, opening in 2012, has a soaring glass atrium with two immense steel tridents inside taken from the façade of the Twin Towers, all of which can be seen from the plaza.
Get a full preview of the latest site changes with our World Trade Center Site and National 9/11 Memorial and Museum review and start planning your visit with our New York City Travel Guide.
Planning Your Visit to the Memorial
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To keep your focus on the experience itself, consider these essentials in advance.
- The National 9/11 Memorial is open only to victims’ families on 9/11; it opens to the general public on 9/12, so plan other activities for the day and week of 9/11.
- To visit the Memorial, free, timed tickets are required and reservations must be booked in advance online. Visitors should book at least 10 days prior to visiting; priority access is given to 9/11 families.
- Visitors will have to pass through security screening upon entering the Memorial. All items can be no larger than 8"x17"x19"; there is no bag storage; there are no bathrooms.
- At the very least, allow 45 minutes to one hour to visit the Memorial.
Exploring Lower Manhattan: Nearby Sites
While there are many places to explore in Lower Manhattan, several Ground Zero-related sites are also worth noting.
9/11 Memorial and Museum Preview Site. Come to learn about Museum progress with everything from models (see last column image below) to images of construction in real time.
FDNY Memorial Wall. This 56-foot long bronze wall lists the names of every FDNY member who was killed on 9/11. The wall is a few blocks from the WTC site at the Ladder Company 3 Engine 10 firehouse, which lost five of its own firefighters (Greenwich St. at Liberty St.).
St. Paul’s Chapel and the Bell of Hope. Within days of 9/11, the city’s only colonial church was transformed into a memorial. In the church’s courtyard is the Bell of Hope, donated by the city of London on the first anniversary of the attacks.
Tribute WTC Visitor Center. Visitors can learn about the day’s events on 9/11 from the personal histories of those who witnessed it through exhibits, tours, and programs (120 Liberty St.).
Trinity Root. Just outside Trinity Church stands a bronze sculpture of the uprooted tree that protected St. Paul’s Chapel from being destroyed when the towers fell (Broadway at Wall St.).
10th Anniversary Events and Exhibits
There are hundreds of events planned for the tenth anniversary itself. Whether you are visiting NYC this September or next year, here are some of the best and most meaningful ways of commemorating 9/11.
September 2011 Events
St. Patrick’s Cathedral 9/11 Memorial Concert. A free concert will be given by the Young Peoples Chorus of New York, the New York Choral Society, and Cathedral Choir of St. Patrick (Sep. 11, 7–8:30 pm).
Metropolitan Museum of Art. The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt will be on view with an accompanying program; graduate students from New York University will read poetry from the quilt; and a free concert will be performed (Sep. 11, 1–4:30pm).
Fraunces Tavern Museum. A special exhibit entitled "Youth Remembers 9/11," featuring art and writing from high school and college students is free with admission (Sep. 3–30).
92nd Street Y. In addition to other related events throughout September, free memorial services on 9/11 will be held for families at 2 pm and adults at 3 pm, and a talk will be given by photographer Joel Meyerowitz, creator of the World Trade Center archive, at 7:30 pm.
Hand in Hand—Remembering 9/11. The day before the 10th anniversary, thousands will gather to join hands to commemorate 9/11 at the Lower Manhattan waterfront (8:46 am, Sep. 10).
Ongoing Exhibitions and Site News
The Statue of Liberty. As a result of increased security measures, the statue will close temporarily from October 28, 2011 to October 2012. Liberty Island will remain open.
Museum of the City of New York. Award-winning photographer Camilo José Vergara showcases his four decades of covering the World Trade Center in "The Twin Towers and the City" exhibit (Sep. 3–Dec. 4).
The New York City Police Museum. A permanent exhibit entitled "9.11 Remembered" offers first person interviews, photos, and more about members of New York’s finest who sacrificed their lives on 9/11.
International Center of Photography. A five-part exhibition will focus on how New York firefighters, police, and others worked side by side with artists in the aftermath of the attacks (Sep. 9–Jan. 8, 2012).
Photo Credits: Aerial rendering courtesy 9/11 Memorial, Freedom Tower construction by iStockPhoto / JayLazarin, Museum last tower rendering courtesy 9/11 Memorial