Almost 3 years ago, the National September 11 Memorial opened to the public not only to commemorate the 10th anniversary of one of the most tragic events in US history, but also to provide a space of mourning to the victims' families and the general public.
In June 2014, the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened to the public as an educational and experimental supplement to the memorial. It highlights images and videos, as well as artifacts that demonstrate the brutality of the attack that forever changed American history on that crystal clear Tuesday morning in 2011.
This memorial incorporates a minimalistic design that delivers a symbolic message through voids and absences rather than through literal figures. Although spartan, the space is truly poetic and full of expression.
The following are snapshots of special moments found exploring the 9/11 Memorial.
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,983 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania; as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 26, 1993.
While the sunken pools represent the physical and spiritual void created during 9/11, the second smaller hole represents hope and the idea that there's more beyond this. Its an idea of hope in the unknown beyond, or future.
One of the most poetic expressions of the memorial is seeing the waterfall as it is illuminated by white light as it reaches the sunken pool. The Memorial's twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and represent the exact footprint and location of the former towers. In addition, they are the largest manmade waterfalls in North America.
Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial's design after being selected through a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 countries.
Families of the victims leave flowers on the names of their loved ones. The name of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools. The names are hollow, signifying the void left by those who perished.
Its design conveys a spirit of hope and renewal and creates a contemplative space separate from the usual sights and sounds of New York City. It is a space of peace in the middle of a crowded city. The Memorial Plaza is one of the most eco-friendly plazas ever built. More than 400 trees were planted in the plaza, surrounding the two Memorial's massive reflecting pools.
Sheltered in the museum are two trident columns of the former World Trade Center facade, among many other artifacts. On these columns you can see the damage that happened to the steel during the fall of the towers, as well as the incredible size of each column. The picture above was taken before the museum was finished.
Image source: Flickr - Augie Ray
The 9/11 Museum building serves as a transition from the memorial park to the underground space that displays artifacts and mementos of September 11.
Image source: Flickr - Edward Stojakovic
One of the panels in the museum showing the flight paths of the planes that crashed on 9/11.
The Foundation Hall includes the "slurry wall," which made possible the construction of the original Twin Towers. Today, this is the surviving retaining wall of what was the basement of the World Trade Center. Also in the image is the 36-foot-high "Last Column."
Among the visually striking artifacts in the museum is the Ladder Company 3 fire truck. All 11 responding members of Ladder Company 3 perished inside the North Tower when it collapsed.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum tells us the story of the same morning in two different ways. One is literal and heavy, while the other one is poetic and hopeful. But in the end, both points of view of the story serve well to remember 9/11.
Have you visited the memorial and museum?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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