Visiting The September 11 Memorial In New York City

Visiting The September 11 Memorial In New York City

Visiting the National September 11 Memorial was going to be difficult, but we knew we had to go there while we were in New York City.


Many of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the first plane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I was working part-time as a secretary in the English Department at the University of Florida in Gainesville. I was a freshman. I was in the office and one of the women that also worked there was listening to her desk radio. Suddenly she was turning up the volume and saying, “Oh my God.”


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial

The clouds covering the new Freedom Tower reflected my mood as we walked towards the memorial


I have to admit, I didn’t even know what the World Trade Center was. Was it an important building? Were there a lot of people there? But the women around me knew. I could tell by their faces. Then the second plane hit the south tower. Then the third plane hit the Pentagon. And then the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial


They were saying over the radio that it was an attack; that possibly all major cities were being targeted. At that point I was sent home with my head reeling and trying to understand the gravity of the situation. Miami was a major city! What if something was happening back home? I rushed to the nearest pay phone to call my family and boyfriend, not wanting to wait until I got home. None of the calls went through. Everyone was trying to call their loved ones and I’m sure the lines were jammed.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial


Over the next few weeks, we were bombarded with the images of the attacks and who was responsible for them. But it wasn’t until years later that I really understood just how severe the attack was. But at the same time, I didn’t understand everything. And I don’t think I ever will. How could someone, anyone, do something so horrible? How could someone willingly cause so much chaos, pain, and destruction?


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial


On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, I sat on the couch watching the commemoration ceremony on TV as victims’ names were read by their families. I was sobbing, my heart hurting for the victims and their loved ones.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial


All of those feelings rushed back as I first walked up to the September 11 Memorial’s twin reflecting pools on that cold January morning. I touched some of the inscribed names of the 2,983 victims. And again I cried.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial


Eventually we made our way to the museum. The artifacts and exhibits inside were really exceptional and I learned even more about both the events and the victims of the attack. It was hard to read some of the witnesses’ accounts and see some of the video footage, but there were strategically placed tissue boxes that were very much appreciated.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial

The iconic trident beams that supported the south tower. They never faltered during the attack.

Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial

This Heritage Trail sign, providing historical information, stood at the perimeter of Ground Zero. It was damaged during the attacks, but was repaired and remained in place until 2008.

Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial

Known as the “Survivor’s Stairs” these stairs and an adjacent escalator had remained undamaged and allowed hundreds to flee to safety.

Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial

Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial

This quilt names every victim


Like I said, it’s hard for me to grasp the kind of evil that took place on September 11th. But what is much easier to understand is the selflessness, strength, human spirit, and resilience that brought together complete strangers after the attacks. Our country was left staggering, but we pulled ourselves up.


Buddy The Traveling Monkey Visiting September 11 Memorial


Visiting the September 11 Memorial was something I’ll never forget, and although it can be an emotional experience, I would recommend it to anyone traveling to New York City.


Useful Information

  • – Visitors can enter the memorial at  the intersection of Liberty Street and Greenwich Street, at the intersection of Liberty Street and West Street, or the at the intersection of West Street and Fulton Street.
  • – The memorial is open daily from 7:30am to 9pm and the museum is open Sunday – Thursday, 9am to 8pm (last entry at 6pm) and Friday and Saturday, 9am to 9pm (last entry at 7pm).
  • – There are 2 free mobile apps you can download (one for the memorial and one for the museum) to learn more about September 11th.
  • – Tickets must be purchased to enter the museum. Adult tickets are $24. Senior (65+), US college student, and US Veteran tickets are $18. Youth (7-17) tickets are $15. Admission is free after 5pm on Tuesdays.
  • – You can take pictures inside the museum, but without flash.
  • – Please remember and respect where you are; keep noise down to a minimum.


Have you been to the September 11 Memorial? What were your thoughts?


  • It was such an awful terrorist attack. So many innocent people killed of all nationalities. It is actually the largest terrorist attack on people from the UK too and I personally know someone whose brother was killed.

  • I live in New York City now and also on 9/11/01. I’m planning to visit the museum this fall. I must admit, though, it’s something I’ve been putting off. The emotions of that time always come rushing back on the anniversary and when I read about it. I’d say 2 things that are burned into my memory forever are the hundreds of missing person posters that were hung throughout the city with quasi-memorials springing up around them and the scent of jet-fuel that lingered in the air for months.

  • Carly Moore says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit the 9/11 Memorial so I can pay my respects. So much has changed as a result of those attacks; and so many lives lost. Great article.

  • I’m with you, I didn’t know what the WTC was before 09-11, but I’m glad there is a memorial there now, so we never forget…

  • I was very young when this happened but now that I am older I realize how incredibly real this was and how hard it must still be for many people

  • I was very young when this happened but now that I am older I realize how incredibly real this was and how hard it must still be for many people

  • Laura Lynch says:

    I moved to DC a few weeks after the attacks in 2011 and went to NYC many times over the following years, but since moving to Seattle I haven’t been back there to see the new building and the memorial. It’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years.

  • kami says:

    I believe we should visit this kind of memorials (as well as concentration camps or genocide museums), it’s always so terribly difficult and painful but this way we won’t forget, and will pay our respect to all the victims. I haven’t been to the US yet but when I eventually go and visit New York the September 11th Memorial will be one of the first places I will pay a visit to, this way I’d be able to understand the city and its inhabitants better.

    • Buddy says:

      Very true Kami, I agree that we should see these kinds of places no matter how difficult. We should never forget that atrocities like this happened in the hopes that they never happen again.

  • I was in NYC last year on 9/11 and attended the ceremonies. That day is one that I’ve never been able to forget. I’m glad you went and experienced that place that still brings back so many memories.

  • I went to the make shift museum whilst this was getting built so it’s great to see the finished result. I have to admit I cried all the way through the museum. It was just heartbreaking to think about all of the victims and the pain their families were suffering from. Very useful post for this visiting.

  • What a nice way to remember 9/11! It looks like a very lovely memorial too. Xx

  • I have been there a couple times and every time it hits me. I do remember watching the first tower burning on TV and thinking it was odd that a movie was on that early in the morning and then watching the second plane. Absolutely heart wrenching and terrifying. The memorial is worth a visit to understand the impact of a few on many and take in the magnitude of the buildings that once stood there.

  • I first saw the memorial two years ago when I was circumnavigating the island of Manhattan using the new (but unheralded fact it was still incomplete) bike path.
    This was the 2/3 point- and one which held us motionless for some time.

  • We visited the museum a couple of years ago but didn’t have time to go inside. Hopefully the next time I’m in New York I can go inside. It’s hard not to remember those images. I can still see President Bush’s face when they told him the news. Whether or not you’re a W fan, you can see the shock and his struggle to maintain his composure in front of the children in the classroom.

  • Kerri says:

    I am an Australian but I do remember exactly the moment we saw this happening on tv. Like most people, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing and we were glued to the tv. I also remember going to the food court near my work, and they had all put up tvs so that people in their lunch breaks could watch what was happening. In 2008, we went to Ground Zero. I found it really hard to comprehend. We were also there in September and it really struck me that the level of security was like nothing I had ever seen. My heart ached for NY and for our world that was never going to be the same again. In 2012 we went back, this time the building had started and the water memorial was in place. I stood at the memorial running my hands over the names and cried once again for a world that will never be the same.

  • Christina says:

    Wow. It looks amazing! I visited New York a couple of months after 911 and saw the area in the raw. It was vastly different to today…there was still rubble and back then souvenir sellers lined the streets. I’ll definitely check this out next time I’m in NYC.

  • Really touching and beautifully written post, thanks for sharing. This is a place I don’t want to visit but I feel like I need to. We can’t forget everyone who was lost. <3

  • Drew says:

    Such a great memorial. We were living only a few blocks away in NYC during its construction and completion. To see how that area has changed in just the past 5 years, with the memorial, the completion of the first tower, and the new oculus transportation hub, is just amazing. The whole neighborhood is now buzzing with activity.

  • Nisha says:

    I can never forget that day. We were talking to our clients on a conference bridge and suddenly they cut the call. A few minutes later we came to know of this dastardly act. Today is the anniversary and those who lost their lives that day are remembered all over the world!

  • Leah says:

    I’ve wanted to visit this since before it opened. I think it will be incredibly difficult, but I still will go. It will be on the top of my list of things to do when I return to NYC.

  • Very timely and moving article. I remember exactly where I was when I heard of the attacks. I had just returned from trail running in the mountains around Tucson Arizona with a couple of friends, Paul and Keith. Paul, a MIT graduate who went on to work at Janus, was busy making calls from the parking lot trying to figure out if any of his friends and classmates where affected. Even though I was thousands of miles away, I will never forget the sorrow and terror in his eyes.

  • Hard to believe it’s been 15 years. I was in Australia at the time, but the news reached us even here. The day that stopped the world. I haven’t been to the memorial yet but hope to. XXX

  • I visited the memorial pools and the museum in July and it was such a moving experience. I was so impressed with how well done the museum was. We only had time to spend two hours there but I could have easily spent another two hours. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing.

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Hi! I'm Vicky, a South Florida-based blogger traveling around the world with my stuffed monkey Buddy. Tired of the 9-5, we recently sold all of our stuff and started traveling full time. Click on the photo to learn more!

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