ONE WORLD TRADE CENTER
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum honor not only the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack, but the spirit of New York City, New Yorkers, Americans, and a heartbroken nation coming together during an unprecedented national tragedy. The 9/11 Memorial Plaza is a place for remembrance and reflection, mourning and healing as well as a symbol of perseverance and resilience. A place of great sorrow has become one that provides peace and comfort even in the midst of the busy streets of New York City.
Sadly, as the world knows, New York City has had two World Trade Centers. The original World Trade Center, the Twin Towers designed by the Japanese American architect Minoru Yamasaki, was conceived as "a living symbol of man's dedication to world peace. . . a representation of man's belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men."
The towers, dedicated to peace, were destroyed in a terrorist attack on 9/11/01. Nearly 3000 people lost their lives including 341 firefighters, 23 NYC police officers, 37 Port Authority police officers, and two Emergency Medical Services workers. "What was really attacked on September 11th was the idea of New York City and America itself -- a beacon of freedom, diversity and equal opportunity" John Avlon wrote in Empire City New York Through the Centuries by Kenneth T. Jackson and David S. Dunbar. The attack on 9/11 was not the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. A previous attack occurred on February 26, 1993 when a bomb, planted in a van in the building's garage, exploded and left six people dead and injured over a thousand.
The contemporary One World Trade Center, originally called the "Freedom Tower," was designed by Daniel Libeskind, who envisioned the buildings as a "story of memory" of those who perished on 9/11, a "memory of what liberty means" and "what New York means." A World Trade Center Memorial, “Reflecting Absence” or "Absence Made Visible," was designed by architect Michael Arad. It is composed of “two square, one-acre reflecting pools marking the footprints of the twin towers, each with a square void at its center.” Around the base of the pools are “the names of victims inscribed on walls at the water’s edge.” They honor 2,983 individuals who died in the 9/11 attack, on the hijacked flights that crashed, and those killed during the 1993 terrorist bombing attack.
There are 2,000 pieces of prismatic glass in the tower of One World Trade Center that reflect light, which changes throughout the day like a large kaleidoscope. The base of the building is an identical copy of the base of the original building.
Four hundred Swamp White Oak trees were lovingly and carefully planted in the Memorial's plaza. The trees were chosen for their durability and changing colors but also because they are native to New York, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, Virginia, the sites of the plane crashes. A Callery Pear tree, damaged during the attack and known as the Survivor Tree, was brought back to health by the New York City Parks and Recreation Department and replanted at the plaza. Saplings from a horse Chestnut tree outside Anne Frank's window in Amsterdam were planted at the Memorial on the 70th anniversary of the publication of Anne Frank's diary. The tree, presented by the Anne Frank Center USA, honors the World Trade Center as a world-wide site dedicated to fighting intolerance.
The entrance to the Museum leads to exhibits 70-feet below ground at the foundation of the original Twin Towers and to the Last Column -- the last piece of steel -- to be removed from the wreckage of Ground Zero. Biographies and stories of both survivors and witnesses of that day's attack are told through oral histories. There are recorded phone calls from people in the buildings and their love ones calling them in alarm. Among the exhibits are the Survivors Stairs, a damaged fire truck from FDNY Ladder 3, hard hats from firemen and rescue workers, and dusty shoes, purses, and other objects found in the piles of debris.
The Oculus Transportation Hub was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to resemble "a bird being released from a child's hand" and to also inspire love and hope. The Oculus is flooded with natural sunlight and has a retractable skylight which opens for two hours every September 11th. The architecture of the skylight allows it to align with the sun's solar angles at the exact time as when the plane hit the first tower at 8:36 a.m. and at 10:28 a.m. when the second tower collapsed.
One World Trade Center was completed in May 2013. Its height is 1,776 feet in honor of the year 1776 and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The central part of the World Trade Center complex is the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum and One World Trade Center. The complex also includes both office and residential buildings: 2 World Trade Center, 3 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, 7 World Trade Center, and the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Art Center. Since 9/11, the architecture of the World Trade Center neighborhood has dramatically changed and parts of the area have become bright and shiny glass towers of different shapes and sizes.
At sunset at the World Trade Center Plaza on September 10, 2021, the St, Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, a monument to the lives lost on 9/11, was illuminated for the first time and opened in December of 2022. The original 80-year old church, which was totally demolished by falling debris from one of the Twin Towers, is the only house of worship destroyed in the 9/11 attack. Inspired by Istanbul's Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Saviour, the construction of the new St. Nicholas was an international project. The church's marble came from Greece, the glass fused into the marble from Austria, the marble and glass were infused in Germany, and assembled in America in the state of Minnesota.
This national shrine is a refuge for meditation and prayer for those of all faiths and nationalities, and a bereavement center. The church is constructed of marble fused with glass panels and lights to illuminate the entire church. Its architect, Santiago Calatrava, who also designed the Memorial's Oculus Transit Hub, created a translucent dome to "shine like a candle." The hand painted icons of the interior, done by a monk from Greece, portray Biblical scenes, those of the brave firefighters and policemen of 9/11, and of the Virgin Mary cradling Manhattan.
The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Art Center, designed by Joshua Ramus, serves as "a living testament to the power of the arts to inspire and united." Scheduled to open in 2023, it is constructed of steel encased in a shroud of white-veined marble which will be illuminated at night.
The U.S.S. New York, a warship with a bow forged of 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center, passed through New York City and by the World Trade Center with a 21-gun salute on November 2, 2009. The ship's motto is "Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget."