Or the 9/11 Memorial, as it is better known, is a must visit if you are ever in NYC.
The last time Mr. L and I visited NYC was in 2006 during the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and back then in the early days when it was known as Ground Zero, the streets overlooking the emptied World Trade Centre site were busy with people all paying their respects to those who were killed - families, friends and colleagues of the victims, NYC residents, tourists. There was a sombre, heavy atmosphere, the smell of sweet perfume in the air and the sound of silence. It was very difficult to get a sense of the size and perspective of the pallid, desolate site, it was cordoned off with a wall of domineering iron railings and void of permanent structures marking out or defining the space.
On this visit, we were naturally curious to see how the authorities had turned around this 16 acre site in honour of the victims and in particular, see the much-talked-about comemorative Memorial Pools in the foundations of the north and south towers.
For the time being, until all the World Trade Centre construction projects are finished, the Memorial site has a totally unexpected stringent wall of security, with an airport style screening process and 4 security passes, before you can get into it. Once inside though, we were met with a captivating vista and the powerful sound of rushing water. This place now has a calm and positive atmosphere yet it is still incredibly moving.
I took so many photographs, it has been difficult to edit them down!
The South Pool Memorial and the names of the victims cut out of the bronze panels.
Designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, the design was selected through an international competition that received 5201 submissions from 63 countries.
The calm water cascades thirty feet into the pools, before dropping into the centre void. It's especially moving and poignant that you cannot see the bottom of the centre part of the pool, the water just disappears, with seemingly no final end point. An effect that's mirrored in the cut outs of the victim's names along the parapets. The design is so simple, delicate and clever yet so solid and powerful.
The sun reflected off the waterfall and created some lovely shards of light and rainbows.
The glass building at the back of shot is the soon to be completed Memorial museum, it will be the focal point for exhibits, history and events of 9/11 and is due to be open at the end of this year.
The names etched into the parapets are not just those victims of the World Trade Centre collapse. They also include the victims from Flight 11, Flight 93, Flight 77, Pentagon, and Flight 175. The Memorial also honours those who were killed on February 26th 1993, when Islamic terrorists detonated a bomb underneath the World Trade Centre, killing 6 people and injuring thousands. There are 2983 names in total across both north and south pools.
The arrangement of the names around each pool are inextricably intertwined. They reflect where the victims were on 9/11 and the relationships they shared with others that were lost on that day, honouring requests from victims' families for specific names to be next to one another.
The area is still very much a work in progress with new commercial offices, retail space and a new public transport hub in construction. This building, overlooking the North Pool will be '1 World Trade Centre' and when complete will be the tallest building in the USA at 1776 feet.
It's incredible to think that these wonderful pools, now seemingly so small in surface area, were the foundations for buildings that had 110 floors, 10 million square feet of office space for 35,000 people and were completely obliterated into dust and charred twisted metal.
The oldest victim of the attacks was 85 years old, the youngest 2 years old. More than 400 of the victims were first responders who died performing their regular duties.
I would imagine this place to be really stunning when lit up at night. Tomorrow, on the anniversary, there will be a Tribute of Light illuminating the sky above the Memorial site.
It's a ticket only entry to the Memorial, with timed passes to ensure safety and to regulate the number of people viewing the site. But there is also a dedicated Memorial website for more information, to make a donation and to book tickets - 911memorial.org