I’m determined to finish this Blog – I’m back in Sydney, but there have been a few more cities along the way.
The next morning I headed down to the new 9/11 memorial. I’ll let you in on a secret – the online bookings are all out for the next few months, but what you can do is head down to the visitors centre before 8am and get in line to grab any tickets for that day that have been cancelled or are kept as extras. If you get there late, you may end up with an afternoon timeslot. Tickets are scheduled in increments of 15/30 mins. The memorial and site of the World Trade Centre is a couple blocks away from the visitors centre, about a 10-15 minute walk. Getting in, you pass through security and need to have your ticket visible at all times.
It is a very sobering and sad location. Very contradictory to the New York vibe, and even surrounding the location, buildings cast shadows and loom over the now ‘flat’ and levelled area. There are people visibly in tears at the memorial.
What I can’t get over is how big the former WTC area is. If anyone that hasn’t seen pictures, the memorial takes the form of two water features that flows water from promenade level into a pool then empties into an abyss. The whole point is you can’t see the base of the feature. You can’t throw anything into the pools and all you can hear is this rushing water. They say these water falls are in the ‘footprints’ of the two buildings. They themselves are only a small fraction of the space the actual buildings took. Which is unbelievable to think how big these buildings actually were as these two fountains are enormous. Around the memorial are engraved the names of all the people that were killed in the 9/11 attacks across America – grouped according to location and names written next to any relatives or friends. The space between the two memorials is a garden that will soon have more trees. And as I said, a real contrast to the noise of a city that surrounds it.
Another really daunting thought was that the Trade Centre buildings stood taller than those around them and as you gaze around the buildings now are quite tall in themselves. What really overwhelmed me was the size – to think that we saw pictures of survivors running to safety and to now realise is that it would have felt like an endless distance just to get out of the area. The sadness also hits home as this was one event that our generation viewed “live”. That these pictures and events were things we witnessed and to go to the site it all happened really tugs at the heatstrings.
At the visitors centre, exerts of a 9/11 documentary plays and gives a very human dimension to the area.