I don’t care if you are a tourist, a local or what but you need to take this particular tour of the 9/11 Memorial and surrounds. It will be one of the most moving experiences of your life and I promise, you will want to go back and take it again with another guide to get their point of view. You see, each tour is lead by somebody who was there — a survivor, a local resident, a first responder, a recovery worker or civilian volunteer. There are over 200 tour leaders, each with a very personal story to share.
Truth be told, I took the tour several years ago before the official 9/11 Memorial was open, before the recent museum opened. (The time has come for me to return!) I’m sure today’s tour is very different in terms of what you see but very much the same in tone.
Our small group of 15 people at the time, walked around what was then a memorial under construction — through surrounding buildings, covered walkways, up and down escalators — taking in various vantage points and learning the significance of each before our guide, a Port Authority Security Officer, sat us down and relayed his personal story of that horrific day, all the while holding up a 22 inch wooden ruler to demonstrate the narrowness of the World Trade Center tower windows and the very deliberate and desperate act it would take for a person to turn sideways in order to fit through and jump to their death. Dazed and saddened, we ended our tour at the Eleven Tears Memorial, a beautifully designed fountain by artist Ken Smith, commemorating the 11 souls who worked for American Express and lost their lives on that day. If it is no longer part of the tour, I highly recommend heading over to the American Express Tower (Three World Financial Center) and seeing it for yourself — open daily from 7AM – 9PM, FREE.
Tours are operated by the 9/11 Tribute Center in partnership with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. They run 1.25 hours between 11AM- 3PM and cost $10 for the tour alone. Meet at 120 Liberty Street 30 minutes before your scheduled start time. I highly recommend purchasing tickets online beforehand.
Images Courtesy: 9/11 Tribute Center, NY Arts