9/11 Memorial & Museum New York – Biography Points

September 11 Tribute In Light Art Installation in the Lower Manhattan New York City Skyline at Sunset. 9.11 concept.

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9/11 Memorial & Museum New York

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, commonly known as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, is a poignant tribute at the World Trade Center complex in New York City. This memorial and museum honour the 2,977 victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, as well as the six individuals who perished in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Operated by a non-profit organization, the institution’s mission is to fundraise, program, and manage the memorial and museum at the World Trade Center site.

The memorial’s idea was conceived immediately following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and aimed to honor both the victims and the heroes involved in the rescue and recovery efforts. Israeli-American architect Michael Arad of Handel Architects, in collaboration with landscape architecture firm Peter Walker and Partners, won the design competition for the memorial. Their vision included a forest of swamp white oak trees and two square reflecting pools that mark the Twin Towers’ footprints.

The memorial and museum construction commenced in August 2006, spearheaded by the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The design adhered to Daniel Libeskind’s original master plan, which envisioned the memorial being 30 feet below street level in a plaza. Notably, it was the only finalist that did not include buildings overhanging the Twin Towers’ footprints. In 2007, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation was renamed the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The memorial’s dedication ceremony was held on September 11, 2011, marking the tenth anniversary of the attacks. The memorial opened to the public the next day. The museum was dedicated on May 15, 2014, with speeches by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama. It officially opened to the public six days later.

180 Greenwich Street, New York City, NY, 10007, U.S.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum
September 11, 2001
StatusOpen
TypeMemorial and museum
Coordinates40°42′42″N 74°0′49″W
Country of OriginUnited States
Location180 Greenwich Street, New York City, NY, 10007,
U.S.
Construction StartedMarch 13, 2006
Architect(s)
  •  Michael Arad of Handel Architects
  • Peter Walker and Partners
  • Davis Brody Bond
  • Snøhetta
Engineer Jaros, Baum & Bolles (MEP)
Structural engineer
  • WSP Global
  • BuroHappold Engineering (Museum)
Websitehttp://www.911memorial.org/
OpeningMemorial:
September 11, 2011; 12 years ago (Dedication and victims’ families)
September 12, 2011; 12 years ago (Public)
Museum:
May 15, 2014; 10 years ago (Dedication and victims’ families)
May 21, 2014; 10 years ago (Public)

History

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located at the World Trade Center complex in New York City, honours the 2,977 victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the six individuals who perished in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Operated by a non-profit organization, the memorial and museum’s mission is to fundraise, plan, and manage the site. The concept for the monument was developed immediately after the 2001 attacks to honour both the victims and the rescuers. An international design competition launched by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation in 2003 attracted submissions worldwide.

“Reflecting Absence,” designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, was chosen as the winning design on January 6, 2004. Their design features a forest of swamp white oak trees and two large reflecting pools situated in the Twin Towers’ footprints. Originally known as the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The board of directors first met on January 4, 2005; by April 2008, they had raised $350 million for the project.

Construction of the Reflecting Absence design began on March 13, 2006, despite initial protests from some victims’ relatives who preferred an above-ground memorial. By May 2006, estimated construction costs had risen to over $1 billion. The foundation worked with various stakeholders to adjust the design and budget, ultimately reducing costs to $530 million. In July 2008, the Survivors’ Staircase was the first artefact moved into the museum, and significant progress was made by September with the installation of the first column for the memorial.

The memorial officially opened to the public on September 12, 2011, one day after the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Over 243 trees had been planted by then, and both reflecting pools were completed. The museum followed on May 15, 2014, with artefacts, including the Survivors’ Staircase and two “tridents” salvaged from the Twin Towers. The Memorial & Museum continues to serve as a place of remembrance and education, attracting millions of visitors annually.

Planning

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located at the World Trade Center complex in New York City, serves as a tribute to the 2,977 victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the six individuals who died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The concept for the memorial was developed immediately after the 2001 attacks to honor both the victims and the rescuers. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation launched an international design competition in 2003, attracting submissions from around the world. “Reflecting Absence,” designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, was chosen as the winning design on January 6, 2004, featuring a forest of swamp white oak trees and two large reflecting pools situated in the Twin Towers’ footprints.

Aerial view of the South pool
Aerial view of the South pool

Construction of the Reflecting Absence design began on March 13, 2006, despite initial protests from some victims’ relatives who preferred an above-ground memorial. By May 2006, estimated construction costs had risen to over $1 billion. The foundation worked with various stakeholders to adjust the design and budget, ultimately reducing costs to $530 million. Significant progress was made by September 2008, with the installation of the first column for the memorial and the Survivors’ Staircase being the first artifact moved into the museum. By April 2010, the reflecting pools were fully framed in steel, and over 243 trees had been planted by September.

The memorial officially opened to the public on September 12, 2011, one day after the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The museum followed on May 15, 2014, housing artifacts such as the Survivors’ Staircase and two “tridents” salvaged from the Twin Towers. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum continues to serve as a place of remembrance and education, attracting millions of visitors each year and fulfilling its mission to honor the victims and educate future generations about the impact of the attacks.

Organizational History

Originally the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The board of directors first met on January 4, 2005, and by April 2008, they had raised $350 million for the project. The foundation was renamed in 2007, and Michael Bloomberg succeeded John C. Whitehead as chair.

National September 11 Memorial in New York City
National September 11 Memorial in New York City

Construction

Construction of the Reflecting Absence design began on March 13, 2006. Despite initial protests from some victims’ relatives who preferred an above-ground memorial, the project moved forward as planned. By May 2006, estimated construction costs had risen to over $1 billion. The foundation worked with various stakeholders to adjust the design and budget, ultimately reducing costs to $530 million.

In July 2008, the Survivors’ Staircase was the first artifact moved into the museum. By September, significant progress was made, including the installation of the first column for the memorial. By April 2010, the reflecting pools were framed in steel, and by September, over 243 trees had been planted. The memorial was opened to the public on September 12, 2011, one day after the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

National Tour & Fundraising

In September 2007, the Memorial & Museum launched a national awareness tour across 25 cities in 25 states. The tour featured photographs, artifacts from the site, and a film with firsthand accounts of the attacks. Key highlights included honoring students from White Knoll Middle School and presenting an American flag that flew over Ground Zero. Steel beams signed by visitors were later used in the memorial’s construction.

The Memorial & Museum conducts a “cobblestone campaign,” allowing contributors to sponsor cobblestones lining the Memorial plaza. In 2008, two-holiday campaigns were held, and significant funding was also provided by HUD and other governmental sources. In 2011, legislation proposed providing $20 million in federal funds annually towards the Memorial’s operating budget.

Current Status

The memorial officially opened to the public on September 12, 2011, with the museum following on May 15, 2014. The museum includes artifacts such as the Survivors’ Staircase and two “tridents” salvaged from the Twin Towers. The Memorial & Museum continues to serve as a place of remembrance and education, attracting millions of visitors each year.

911 Memorial & Museum New York 911 Memorial and Museum
911 Memorial & Museum New York 911 Memorial and Museum

Design and Architecture

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located in the World Trade Center complex in New York City, stands as a profound tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The design, “Reflecting Absence,” was chosen from an international competition of 5,201 entries in January 2004. Created by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, the memorial features two 1-acre pools, the largest man-made waterfalls in the U.S., marking the footprints of the Twin Towers. Over 400 swamp white oak trees surround the pools, creating a serene and contemplative sanctuary amidst the city’s hustle and bustle.

The victims’ names are inscribed on 152 bronze parapets surrounding the memorial pools, totaling 2,983 individuals. This includes 2,977 killed in the 2001 attacks and six from the 1993 bombing. The arrangement, based on meaningful adjacencies, reflects personal relationships, affiliations, and proximity at the time of the attacks, ensuring that colleagues, friends, and family members are remembered together. The North Pool includes names from the North Tower, Flight 11, and the 1993 bombing victims, while the South Pool honors those from the South Tower, Flight 175, first responders, Pentagon victims, and Flight 93.

A significant symbol within the memorial is the Survivor Tree, a callery pear tree that endured the 2001 attacks. Initially found severely damaged, the tree was rehabilitated and now thrives, symbolizing resilience and renewal. In May 2019, the Memorial Glade was unveiled to honor first responders who later succumbed to illnesses from toxins at Ground Zero. Featuring six large stones symbolizing strength and resilience, the glade is located where first responders once accessed the site during cleanup efforts, serving as a solemn reminder of the attacks’ ongoing impact and the bravery of those who responded.

Names of the Victims

The names of 2,983 victims are inscribed on 152 bronze parapets surrounding the memorial pools. These include 2,977 individuals killed in the 2001 attacks and six victims of the 1993 bombing. The arrangement of names, created using an algorithm, reflects meaningful adjacencies based on personal relationships, affiliations, and proximity at the time of the attacks. This thoughtful arrangement ensures that colleagues, friends, and family members are remembered together. The North Pool includes names of those in the North Tower, the passengers and crew of American Airlines Flight 11, and victims of the 1993 bombing. The South Pool honors those in the South Tower, the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 175, first responders, and the victims of the Pentagon and Flight 93.

911 Memorial & Museum New York Preliminary site plan for the rebuilt World Trade Center
911 Memorial & Museum New York Preliminary site plan for the rebuilt World Trade Center

Survivor Tree and Memorial Glade

One of the memorial’s most poignant symbols is the Survivor Tree, a callery pear tree that survived the 2001 attacks. Initially found with severe damage, the tree was rehabilitated and now stands as a testament to resilience and renewal. In December 2010, the tree was returned to the World Trade Center site and continues to thrive, representing hope and the enduring spirit of survival. In May 2019, the Memorial Glade was unveiled, honoring first responders who later succumbed to illnesses caused by toxins at Ground Zero. This path features six large stones that symbolize strength and resilience, and is located where first responders once accessed the site during the cleanup. The glade serves as a solemn reminder of the ongoing impact of the attacks and the bravery of those who responded in its aftermath.

The Survivor Tree

Discovered amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center in October 2001, the callery pear tree that would later be named the “Survivor Tree” stood as a poignant symbol of resilience. Despite being severely burned and having only one living branch when recovered, this tree had originally been planted near buildings four and five during the 1970s. Its survival became a testament to hope amid devastation, described by then-Memorial president Joe Daniels as a crucial element of the memorial plaza’s landscape.

Moved to the Arthur Ross Nursery in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in November 2001, the tree underwent extensive care and was replanted in the Bronx a few weeks later. Initially expected not to survive, it showed signs of new growth by the following spring. Despite uncertainties about its permanent location, it continued to thrive under the care of the Bronx nursery.

In a notable ceremony in December 2010, the Survivor Tree returned to the World Trade Center site, now standing 30 feet tall. Attended by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, city officials, survivors, and rescue workers, this event marked its symbolic return to the place where it had originally grown, becoming a focal point of resilience and renewal for the memorial. Alongside it, six other “survivor trees” have been planted near significant landmarks in New York City, embodying the enduring spirit in the face of tragedy.

Memorial Glade

Unveiled in May 2018, the Memorial Glade at the National September 11 Memorial honors the first responders who fell ill or died from toxins at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attacks. Located on the southwest side of the memorial plaza, this path features a design by Michael Arad that includes six large stones, evoking strength and resistance amidst the devastation. The path’s layout includes pieces of debris from the original World Trade Center, offering a solemn reminder of the site’s history and the heroism of those who responded during the cleanup efforts. The glade officially opened on May 24, 2019, serving as a poignant tribute to the ongoing sacrifices made by those who bravely served in the aftermath of 9/11.

911 Memorial & Museum New York
911 Memorial & Museum New York

The Sphere

Originally commissioned for the old World Trade Center, The Sphere is a monumental cast bronze sculpture created by German artist Fritz Koenig and completed in 1971. Positioned prominently on the Austin J. Tobin Plaza until the events of September 11, 2001, The Sphere survived the attacks albeit heavily damaged. In 2017, it found a new home in Liberty Park, adjacent to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, where it serves as a powerful symbol of resilience and remembrance.

Controversies surrounding the Memorial

One of the controversies surrounding the National September 11 Memorial & Museum involves Mohammad Salman Hamdani, an NYPD cadet whose name was initially excluded from the group of first responders and victims memorialized based on workplace or affiliation. Despite being found in the wreckage of the North Tower, Hamdani’s name was placed on panel S-66 for World Trade Center victims alongside others who did not fit into predefined groups by the memorial committee. His mother, Talat, campaigned to recognize her son’s role as a police cadet and first responder, eventually leading to his inclusion.

Another controversy centered on the lack of Arabic-language brochures at the memorial’s launch. Initially translated into ten languages excluding Arabic, this decision was criticized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which raised concerns about potential political motivations behind the exclusion. Following an official complaint to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2015, the ADC and the memorial settled in December 2017. As a result, the memorial committed to translating its commemorative guide into Arabic, ensuring broader accessibility following HUD’s Limited English Proficiency rules for grantees.

The National September 11 Museum

The National September 11 Museum, dedicated on May 15, 2014, and opened to the public on May 21, houses a profound collection commemorating the events of September 11, 2001. Located about 70 feet below ground, the museum encompasses 110,000 square feet of space, accessible through a pavilion designed by Snøhetta. Designed by Davis Brody Bond, the museum’s architecture, including its deconstructivist pavilion, evokes the tragic events of 9/11 while providing a contemplative space for reflection.

History and Collection

The museum’s extensive collection features over 40,000 images, 14,000 artifacts, more than 3,500 oral recordings, and 500 hours of video. Notable artifacts include steel remnants from the Twin Towers, such as the Last Column, the final piece of steel removed from Ground Zero in May 2002. The museum’s development faced challenges, including temporary halts in construction due to disputes over infrastructure costs between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation. Talks resolved these issues, and construction resumed in September 2012, leading to the museum’s eventual opening in 2014.

Design and Impact

The museum’s design incorporates significant elements such as the preserved slurry wall, which withstood the attacks, and artifacts like wrecked emergency vehicles and portions of all seven World Trade Center buildings. Its exhibitions are crafted to evoke memories respectfully, ensuring a poignant experience for visitors, especially first responders and families of the victims. Despite its intention to honor and remember, the museum has also been a site of emotional intensity, requiring counselors during its opening due to the overwhelming response from visitors.

The Huffington Post has described the museum experience as a poignant journey through the turmoil and devastation of 9/11, capturing the heartache and resilience of New York and the nation.

Controversies Surrounding the Museum

Once a vibrant neighborhood known as Little Syria, situated just south of the World Trade Center site, this area thrived as a hub for Christian Arab immigrants from the 1880s. The neighborhood, home to St. Joseph’s Lebanese Maronite Church and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, was founded by immigrants fleeing Ottoman oppression in the Middle East. Despite its historical significance, Little Syria was demolished in the 1940s due to the construction of the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel. Activists have advocated for the museum to include a permanent exhibit about this neighborhood, emphasizing its role in American history and the contributions of immigrants from Ottoman lands.

911 Memorial & Museum New York (1)
911 Memorial & Museum New York (1)

Museum Operations

General Admission and Pricing


Admission to the museum is priced at $33, which has sparked concerns among various groups. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg echoed these concerns, encouraging individuals to advocate for increased federal funding to support the museum’s operations.

Controversies Over Souvenirs


Upon its opening, the museum faced criticism regarding selling souvenirs that some deemed inappropriate. Proceeds from these items were intended to fund the museum and memorial. In response to public outcry, including objections from victim families and first responders, certain items were removed from sale, and a policy was implemented to vet all merchandise for appropriateness with input from victim families.

VIP Events and Criticisms


In May 2014, a black-tie cocktail party for donors held at the museum drew significant backlash from families of victims and first responders. The event, which took place near unidentified remains, was viewed by many as disrespectful to the sacred nature of the site. Family members expressed anger over the perception that access for donors contrasted sharply with restrictions placed on them and other visitors.

Placement of Unidentified Remains


A controversial decision in May 2014 involved the transfer of unidentified remains of 1,115 victims to the museum’s underground space at Ground Zero. This move sparked mixed reactions among victims’ families, with some supporting the decision while others criticized it as insensitive. Critics, including FDNY Lt. James McCaffrey, argued that the remains deserved a more dignified location than the basement, suggesting that a ground-level setting would be more respectful.

These controversies underscore the challenges faced by the National September 11 Museum in balancing commemoration, education, and sensitivity toward those affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Withdrawn Proposals

The International Freedom Center


Originally proposed as part of the World Trade Center Memorial plan in 2005, the International Freedom Center aimed to serve as a think tank highlighting global struggles for freedom throughout history. However, controversy arose over concerns that its mission lacked direct relevance to the events of September 11 and could potentially critique American policies. Criticism from various quarters, including right-wing blogs and commentators, intensified until Governor George Pataki withdrew support for the center. Deborah Burlingame, a World Trade Center Memorial Foundation member, voiced concerns about the center’s potential direction in The Wall Street Journal.

The Drawing Center Art Gallery


Another proposal that did not come to fruition was The Drawing Center Art Gallery, which was initially planned to be housed at the World Trade Center. The gallery, originally located in SoHo, was part of the Cultural Center concept alongside the International Freedom Center. Plans envisioned these centers sharing space, but the proposal faced significant opposition and was ultimately withdrawn.

Controversies and Editorial Responses


During debates over these proposals, critics argued that both the International Freedom Center and the Cultural Center could detract from the solemnity and focus of the Memorial Museum. However, proponents of the centers countered that cultural and intellectual components could enrich the memorial experience without diminishing its emotional impact. The controversy highlighted broader discussions about the appropriate scope and purpose of commemorative spaces related to the September 11 attacks.

Other 9/11 Memorials


Apart from the main memorial at Ground Zero, numerous communities across the United States have constructed their own memorials commemorating the September 11 attacks. These memorials often incorporate pieces of steel from the Twin Towers, donated through a program by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Over 1,000 pieces of World Trade Center steel have been distributed for this purpose, symbolizing a nationwide effort to remember and honor the victims of 9/11.

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