Ground Zero in New York: Where the History Lives

2:20 pm  |  24.07.2021

Ground Zero is no longer a place of terror, but a place of silence. Where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood, the National 9/11 Memorial now commemorates the dire terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. At the same time, new skyscrapers, the survival tree, The Oculus, and The Sphere represent new hope and strength. We think a visit to Ground Zero is essential in New York.

In this article, we have compiled the most important information about the significant places at Ground Zero for you. We also clarify the differences between Ground Zero, the National 9/11 Memorial, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Since we would like to recommend a guided tour by real New Yorkers, especially at Ground Zero, there are also some recommendations from us for guided tours at Ground Zero below.

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Ground Zero from above today

After the attacks on the World Trade Center, the ruins continued to smoke well into December 2001 and it took over 9 months to clear away the vast amounts of rubble. Even after that, the nation was still in shock and at the point where the Twin Towers previously stood, a huge wound remained in Manhattan’s cityscape: Ground Zero.

As an important place of remembrance and mourning, Ground Zero is no longer an empty pit. New buildings were erected on the site, especially the National 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. With the new One World Trade Center, New York is demonstrating its strength and, recently, the new Oculus train station has been rising up like a phoenix from the ashes.

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This entire area that was hit by the attacks is still called Ground Zero today but is often equated with the 9/11 Memorial.

The National 9/11 Memorial

Exactly where the twin towers stood before the attacks, two huge pools with waterfalls serve as a symbolic memorial today. Together with the city park area around them, they form the National 9/11 Memorial.

The two basins are the largest man-made waterfalls in North America and together with one of the most moving monuments in the world. They stand for the unspeakable gap in the soul of the city that was created by the terrorist attacks and the collapse of the towers.

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That is why the pools are also called Reflecting Absence, ambiguously. They invite you to reflect on emptiness and at the same time reflect this on the surface of the water.

The names of around 3,000 victims are engraved on bronze plates around the water basins – you get goosebumps when you walk past.

If you see a little white rose on some of the names, it means that this person’s birthday is today.

The memorial honors all those who fell victim to the 9/11 attacks. Including those that were held in the World Trade Center in New York, in the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and died in the crashed Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. There is also an inscription dedicated to the six victims of the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

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The One World Trade Center

The new One World Trade Center

The new One World Trade Center is now on Ground Zero, right next to the 9/11 Memorial. The building was originally called the Freedom Tower but was later renamed One World Trade Center (1 WTC) for marketing reasons.

There are almost 80,000 square meters of office space on 104 floors, a public lobby on the ground floor, various restaurants, and the highest viewing platform in New York.

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The height of the One World Trade Center was not chosen by chance: 1776 feet (almost 542 meters) symbolize the year of the United States’ declaration of independence.

It embodies the strength, optimism, and faith of the Americans like no other building in New York.

The One World Observatory

360 ° view from the One World Observatory

With the new One World Trade Center, New York has gained a significant attraction. New Yorkers are also proud of the new landmark. We are particularly impressed by the three viewing platforms on floors 100 to 102.

The observation decks of the One World Trade Center are called the One World Observatory.

The view from up there is really fantastic. You can’t go outside, but the floor-to-ceiling windows offer a sensational 360 ° view. This allows you to see as far as New Jersey, Brooklyn, or Central Park.

The Statue of Liberty and the ships on the Hudson River look like a miniature landscape from this height. We just can’t get enough of this view and so we keep coming back. The most beautiful experience is of course at sunset.

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The 9/11 Memorial Museum

The entrance to the 9/11 Memorial Museum

The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located right next to the 9/11 Memorial and has been open to the public since President Obama’s moving opening in May 2014.

In addition to many personal items, the museum also shows rubble from the former twin towers. So it goes past fire engines deformed by heat, part of the antenna of the north tower, a charred elevator motor, the small stone staircase (Survivor’s Staircase), remnants of sidewalks, street signs, bicycles, and prams that were in front of the World Trade Center. A large part of the museum is also dedicated to the victims of the attack, especially the room with 2,983 pictures.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum is really a very moving experience and should be a must on every visit to New York. We only personally advise against visiting with children.

Admission is not free, you can either buy the tickets spontaneously on-site or reserve them online in advance to save you waiting time.

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