9/11 Memorial Preview Site

As the world reflects on the death of Osama Bin Laden, it’s worth also reflecting on the attacks 10 years ago in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that made him America’s Public Enemy No. 1. The National 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan is scheduled to open in September, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, and a 9/11 museum will open a year later.

In the meantime, a preview site in a gallery on nearby Vesey Street presents a timeline of that most harrowing of days, alongside artifacts that will go into the museum and models of the buildings currently under construction at Ground Zero. The preview site opened in August 2009 and received more than 1 million visitors in its first year. I was in the neighborhood last month and dropped in.

Exhibits include the helmet worn by a firefighter who escaped the World Trade Center’s North Tower shortly before it collapsed, and an eight-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty covered with condolence notes, patches from uniforms, rosary beads, miniature flags and more, left from passersby outside a fire station that lost 15 of its members.  

Visitors can listen to recordings of memories and record their own reminiscences, courtesy of the Story Corps Project.

Scale models and photo murals depict the buildings of the rebuilt site, capped by the Freedom Tower (scheduled for completion in 2013) with its spire soaring to an All-American 1,776 feet. Although construction was severely delayed, current reports of are two new stories being added every week. Eventual plans call for 13 subway lines, commuter rail and ferry terminal to converge here.

One thing the new World Trade Center won’t contain: buildings in the footprints of the old towers. In their place, twin, square waterfalls will frame the memorial itself.

Find out more at the memorial’s website.