A trip to Ground Zero makes an emotional stop on your holiday to New York. Pause by the two huge square pools of water, which sit where the two World Trade Center towers once rose up into the sky. Find out more about the terrible tragedies of September 11 2001, as you wander around the 9/11 Memorial Museum. And take a moment during your ground zero tour to remember the heroes of that fateful day.
What to expect
A visit to Ground Zero is a powerful reminder of the global impact of the events of 9/11. This was the largest loss of life from a foreign attack on American soil, as well as the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history. At Ground Zero you can remember those who died and find out more about the events before, during, and after the day. You can listen to real stories told real people involved in the tragedy. Get closer to the event by looking at countless artefacts from the site.
The 9/11 Memorial Plaza was officially opened in 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. Entrance to the Plaza is free of charge, but there is a suggested donation of $5-$10. You no longer need a visitor pass to visit, and it is open from 7.30am to 9pm. The Plaza covers eight of the 16 acres of the World Trade Center site and is beautifully landscaped with places to sit and reflect on the tragedy.
The names of the 2,977 people who died during the terror attacks in New York, Shanksville, and the Pentagon on September 11th 2001 are remembered at the Memorial. Each name is inscribed on bronze panels with waterfalls cascading down the sides. The panels also remember the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
Two sunken square pools can be found in the place where the North and South Towers once stood. The pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. These mesmerising pools are surrounded by a quiet tree-lined park. The trees that have been planted are swamp white oaks and come from within a 500-mile radius of the World Trade Center site. Additional trees have been sourced from locations in Pennsylvania and near Washington DC, two other areas affected on September 11th 2001.
The light reflects on the water of the pools and it’s a powerfully moving place to spend some time. It’s a tribute to the past, but also looks positively to the future.
You can also see the mini-miracle that is the Survivor Tree. This is a pear tree that was rescued from the rubble, revived and replanted. It’s now a powerful symbol of hope.
Visiting the Memorial Museum
Ground Zero is also home to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Primarily built below the ground where the towers once stood, it is preserved as a national landmark. This is well worth a visit to find out more about the events leading up to the tragedy, the stories of those affected, and what the future holds. It’s open every day, with last entry two hours before closing.
Located on the original footprint of the North Tower, the historical exhibition looks at events before 9/11, events of the day and life after 9/11. The museum exhibits tell the story of 9/11 through artefacts, photographs, and eyewitness accounts. There are over 23,000 images, 10,000 artefacts and 2,000 histories provided by family members of victims for you to listen to. It is a deeply moving place to reflect on an event that changed the world. You’ll also find temporary exhibitions displayed and in the glass atrium, you’ll even see the last remaining piece of the World Trade Center. If you’re visiting New York with the family, bear in mind that this exhibition may not be suitable for children aged under 10 years old.
While the 9/11 Memorial is free to visit, you’ll need tickets to explore the 9/11 Memorial Museum. These can be purchased on the day or in advance online. If you’re planning to visit lots of New York museums during your holiday, you might be interested in New York City Pass. This gives discounts on tickets for the 9/11 Memorial Museum, as well as at many other top New York attractions.
Museum & Memorial Tours
You can wander around the Memorial Gardens and the 9/11 Museum at your own pace. Alternatively, book an expert tour to help you make the most of your visit. Tours can be booked via the 9/11 Memorial and Museum website and cater to every age, including specialist tours that are appropriate for children.
There are also audio guides and mobile apps available to download to enhance your visit. Live talks and events are regularly scheduled to give you an even better insight on the events of 9/11.
Ground Zero is located in lower Manhattan where Vesey Street, Liberty Street, Church Street, and West Street meet. The area is still undergoing mass reconstruction, so public transport offers one of the easiest ways to get there.
Ground Zero has its own train station, or you could also use a number of other nearby subway stations, including Chambers Street, Fulton Street, Park Place, and Rector Street. The PATH train serves the World Trade Centre from New Jersey, or use the M5, M20 or M22 buses. The closest taxi stands are located on West Street and Liberty Street and on Vesey Street at West Street.
Once you’ve paid your respects, it’s easy to catch a train or set off on foot and continue exploring this incredible city.