I didn’t know what to expect at Ground Zero but I was deeply moved by the magnitude and magnificence of the memorials, built to celebrate the 2,977 lives lost that day.
The victims, aged 85 years to two years, from 90 nations, were killed by the Islamist extremist group al Qaeda. More than 400 of those were emergency workers.
The two memorials sit on the exact footprints of the two twin towers.
Our guide Anthony, was there on that terrifying morning of 9/11. He described in detail the moment of impact, the deafening thunder and the crippling fear as the second tower was hit.
He talked us though the day and the aftermath. Fires burned for four months following the attack, while forensic scientists sifted through debris to identify DNA to provide closure to families.
Throughout his narration of two and a half hours I felt humbled, scared and thankful I wasn’t there.
The memorials were deigned by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker. They were selected from 5,201 submissions from 63 countries.
Each footprint is over an acre and sits about a metre above the ground. Water cascades from all four sides, over 10 metres. In the middle is a void to signify the structural centre core of the building. The water is drawn to it.
Friends, family and loved ones can place a note in the water surrounding the memorials and watch it cascade the falls and slip into the centre void- the spiritual core.
All the names of the victims of both 9/11 and the previous World Trade Centre bombing in 1993 are inscribed around the edges of the memorials. This includes the 341 firefighter that lost their lives.
While the two memorials have been completed the rest of the complex is a construction zone. The construction of World Trade Centre One will be the tallest building in the US and is nearly completed. The museum is due to open next year.
The original World Trade Centre was 16 acres and was built between 1966 and 1987. It contained seven buildings including the two twin towers, both 110 floors occupied by approximately 35,00 people. There was also an underground shopping centre. The complex even had it’s own zip code, 10048.
Despite the original plans to replace all seven buildings, they now plan to build only five. This is because of the economic times and absence of anchor tenants.