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Visit Ground Zero, New York

See the World Trade Center site, Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial

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The World Trade Center was a popular tourist attraction before the tragedy of September 11th, but has become an increasingly important destination for visitors to New York City who want to pay tribute to those lost in the events of 9/11 and better understand the events of that fateful day.

1. Traveling to Ground Zero and the World Trade Center Site

World Trade Center Site from Winter Garden at World Financial Center
Photo by Heather Cross taken on May 2, 2011, licensed to About.com

The World Trade Center Site is located in lower Manhattan, bound by Vesey Street on the north, Liberty Street on the south, Church Street on the east and West Street. Parking and driving around the World Trade Center site is very difficult because of all the construction, so I highly recommend using public transportation.

Trains to World Trade Center area:

  • PATH train to World Trade Center
  • E to the World Trade Center
  • A/C to Chambers Street
  • 1/2/3 to Chambers Street
  • 4/5 to Wall Street
  • 2/3 to Park Place

2. 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial opened on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2011 in a ceremony for victims' families. It opened to the general public on September 12, 2011. The 9/11 Memorial Museum was originally scheduled to open in 2012, but has not yet been completed.

The 9/11 Memorial features the names of the 2,982 victims of the September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 terrorist attacks on bronze panels lining two pools with waterfalls cascading down the sides. The plaza surrounding the pools is be filled with oak trees and a pear tree, known as the Survivor Tree, because it survived the 9/11 attacks.

The atrium entrance to the 9/11 Memorial Museum houses two tridents from the steel facade of WTC 1 (the North Tower) which are visible to visitors at the Memorial even though the Museum itself is not yet open.

3. 9/11 Memorial Preview Site

9/11 Memorial Preview Site
Photo by Heather Cross on May 2, 2011, licensed to About.com

While we await the completion of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site is available for visitors. The exhibit features a model of the planned memorial, as well as an overview of the timeline of events on 9/11 and a small collection of artifacts and displays about the events of 9/11. There is also a gift shop with FDNY & NYPD items, as well as other souvenirs who's sale will help support the building of the memorial & museum.

9/11 Memorial Preview Site Details:

  • Entrance is free
  • Address: 20 Vesey Street (between Church & Broadway)
  • Phone: 212-267-2047
  • Hours: Daily 9 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Closed: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day
  • Website: http://www.911memorial.org/preview-site

4. Tribute WTC Visitor Center

If you're looking for a compelling retelling of the events of 9/11, the Tribute WTC Visitor Center offers tasteful, yet compelling galleries. The displays feature first-hand accounts from both survivors and families of victims, as well as artifacts from the site, many on loan from the families of those lost on 9/11.

Tribute WTC Visitor Center Details:

  • $17 adult admission
  • Address: 120 Liberty Street (between Church & Greenwich)
  • Phone: 866-737-1184
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Website: http://www.tributewtc.org

5. Tours of the WTC Site and Ground Zero

If you'd like some guidance as you explore the WTC site and Ground Zero, a tour is a good option. You can choose from both guided and self-guided options, depending on what you're looking for. These tours make it easier to feel oriented and have a better sense of where the buildings were and what's going up where.

  • Tribute WTC 9/11 Walking Tours - Organized by the non-profit September 11th Families' Association, these 75 minute tours are lead by people who have been directly affected by the events of September 11th and cost $22 per adult/$17 for students and seniors/$7 for children 6-12, though the tour is not recommended for visitors under 10 years old.
  • Heroes of the World Trade Center Tour - Uncle Sam's New York Tours offers a 2-hour walking tour of the area, including a visit to St. Paul's Chapel.
  • Walk & Remember - For $4 you can pick up a self-guided tour map at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site. The map guides visitors around the neighborhood (starting from the preview site) and offers information about each of 15 stops.

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