This post will walk you through the best things to do in rejuvenated Lower Manhattan, New York. It was a tremendously cold and gloomy day when we had planned to explore the rejuvenated Lower Manhattan area that had been so devastated by the September 11th terrorist attacks. Somehow the weather suited the occasion. New York was born here in the 1620s and since the attacks it has received an astonishing regeneration.
Wall Street is a short distance from ‘ground zero’ so we jumped out of the uber here, wanting to see the famous ‘Charging Bull’ statue that has become the unofficial mascot of Wall Street. It is very much a thing to see and is surrounded by crowds most of the time. Recently a bronze statue of a girl stands opposite the Bull intended to highlight the need for more women in finance. She stares defiantly at the masculine bull.
We made our way through Wall Street and towards the 9/11 Memorial, struck by how much repair and construction work was still going on.
Once you reach the area where the attacks took place, however, it has been completely rejuvenated and although it felt a little somber on this gloomy day, it reflects power and yet is respectful of what horrors took place here…
Facts about the 9/11 memorial
- It was built to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.
- It is called ‘Reflecting Absence’.
- There are 2 pools representing the footprints of the original Twin Towers.
- The waterfalls are intended to mute sounds of the city.
- Long bronze plaques circle the pools with nearly 3000 names of all of the victims.
- 400 Swamp White Oak trees are planted around to allow for a mediative oasis in years to come. They can grow to 24m and can live for at least 300 years.
- A Callery Pear tree known as the ‘Survivor tree’ miraculously survived the collapse of the world trade centre. It was replanted elsewhere to recover and then returned to it’s original spot by the memorial.
Feeling quiet and reflective we entered the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It is a thorough testament to the events of 9/11 and it is underground within ‘ground zero’ giving it a chilling atmosphere.
The Foundation Hall is cavernous and contains structural remains of the Twin Towers including the slurry wall which still protects the site from the Hudson River.
Haunting displays of Missing Persons posters hint at the chaos created.
As you head down by elevator you’ll come across the ‘Survivors’ Stairs’ which held out during the collapse enabling many more to escape that day. So it’s been kept as a symbolic remnant.
A 20-foot segment of the north tower’s radio and television antenna was salvaged from the wreckage. It now sits as a jaw dropping reminder of just how huge the towers were, and therefore, how shocking it’s destruction was.
The crushed FDNY fire truck ‘Ladder 3’. These firemen were tasked with heading up into the North Tower to find and evacuate burned and injured victims. After the South Tower collapsed an evacuation order went out. However, some refused to leave until all members of the public were exited safely and others, highest in the tower, did not receive the order at all. 11 members of Ladder 3 were killed during the collapse of the North Tower.
A poignant display plays the telephone messages left to loved ones from those who knew they were about to die in the towers.
The Historical Exhibition plays out the moments minute by minute through video, photos and recordings. No photos are allowed in this part.
There is also an area to sit where one by one the victims are shown on the screen and you hear their parents or brother etc say a few words about them. It’s very moving.
This is a series of photos showing the start of the cleanup.
The address of the Memorial is Greenwich Street…
The National Tribute Quilt is composed of more than 3,000 fabric squares creating a large mosaic that depicts the lower Manhattan skyline with the Twin Towers. It contains international flags, patriotic symbols, many with the name of a victim.
Panel one, on the left, is dedicated to victims of the four hijacked planes. The four panels in the centre are dedicated to the victims who perished in the World Trade Centre. The panel on the far right is dedicated to the Pentagon victims.
The Foundation Hall is enormous. It has the slurry wall as the backdrop and the Last Column, standing 36-feet high, stands nearby. It is covered with mementos, memorial inscriptions, and missing posters placed there by ironworkers, rescue workers and others.
Feeling somber and a bit overwhelmed we head to the nearby St Paul’s Chapel which miraculously escaped damage during the Tower’s collapse. You can see the huge One World Trade Center disappearing into the clouds nearby.
This chapel was built before the Revolutionary war dating back to 1766. The reason we wanted to visit it however, was not because it’s a Georgian gem, but because for 8 months after the terrorist attacks it acted as a sanctuary for the rescue workers at Ground Zero.
The pew where George Washington prayed was used as a foot treatment chair for firefighters during the attacks.
A side room displays a tribute to the events of 9/11.
The final of the best things to do in rejuvenated Lower Manhattan was to see inside the Oculus. It is meant to look like a dove in flight, but it looks a little skeletal. Inside this hugely expensive transportation hub you’ll find lots of shops. I suppose it displays how besides all the 9/11 memorials, life still goes on…