Volume 20, Number 45 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 3 - 9, 2010

Downtown Express photo by J.B. Nicholas

The two, 50-ton steel tridents that will serve as the Pavilion’s signature artifacts arrived at the World Trade Center site this summer.


Countdown until the 9/11 Memorial opens

BY Joe Daniels

When visitors enter the National September 11 Memorial and Museum offices, they pass by a large clock. Instead of telling the time, the clock displays the number of days until the opening of the 9/11 Memorial in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Today, the clock reads 314: we are just over ten months away.

Building a national memorial and museum that will be at the heart of the redeveloped World Trade Center site – surrounded by new office towers and a key transportation hub – has of course had its challenges. But thanks to the leadership of 9/11 Memorial Chairman Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and a dedicated board of directors, the cooperation of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the unified support of other stakeholders, we are on track to open the Memorial in September 2011.

Looking at the site today, many of the signature elements of the Memorial are already in place. The Memorial pools that will sit in the footprints of the Twin Towers are fully framed in steel and concrete. The inner walls of the north pool have been fully clad in polished granite panels and granite work on the south pool is over 90 percent complete. Cobblestones have begun to be installed, forming the actual plaza floor on which visitors will walk in less than a year.

This summer, steel work began on the Museum Pavilion building, now visible from street level above the construction fencing that surrounds the site. Structural steel installation is more than 80 percent complete and will conclude in mid-November. Already, the two steel tridents that will serve as the Pavilion’s signature artifacts have been installed. These pieces, characterized by three-pronged tips, were salvaged from the original façade of the North Tower and lowered into the site a few months ago. At 50 tons each, they are so large that portions of the Pavilion structure must be built around them.

The appearance of trees on site marks the return of life to the World Trade Center, and since August 50 trees in total have taken root. The trees are carefully protected on site as construction continues around them and plantings will resume in the spring once the harshest winter weather has passed. When the Memorial is completed, more than 350 others will join these 50 trees.

In the months ahead, we will begin filling and testing the waterfalls in one of the Memorial pools. When completed, 16 pumps will flow 50,000 gallons of recycled water through the waterfalls every minute. Off-site, work is proceeding on the fabrication of the bronze parapets that will surround the Memorial pools, bearing the names of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 attacks.  

Progress also continues on the 9/11 Memorial Museum, where the major exhibitions are planned at bedrock. As we enter 2011 and work toward the 10th anniversary and opening of the Memorial, we plan to bring several major artifacts to the site for installation within the Museum, including damaged fire trucks and a section of the antenna that helped many distinguish the North Tower from its twin.

As building moves forward, we are working with various community, city and state agencies in developing operation plans for opening day of the memorial and continuous operations thereafter. Because of the ongoing construction of other projects surrounding the memorial on all sides, visitor access will be closely coordinated to allow for safe entry onto the plaza.

Our primary objective is to provide as many visitors as possible with an opportunity to visit the Memorial and have a meaningful experience that is safe and secure – and to ensure we do as much as possible to ensure the Lower Manhattan community is impacted as little as possible in the process.

In the months to come, we look forward to keeping the Lower Manhattan community apprised of our operational plans. We invite you to visit our website, www.national911memorial.org, or call 212-312-8800 with questions or concerns.

Until the Memorial opens, I encourage you to visit the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site on Vesey Street to learn more about the Memorial and Museum. Since opening, the Preview Site has welcomed more than 1.25 million visitors from across the country and around the world. The Preview Site also features a recording booth that allows visitors to share their 9/11 stories for inclusion in the Museum’s exhibitions. Members of the downtown community are invited to contribute to the Museum’s collections by visiting the Preview Site recording booth or contacting collections@sept11mm.org.

On September 11, 2011, the eyes of the world will turn to the World Trade Center site and we look forward to delivering a Memorial that both honors those who were lost and signifies hope for the future.

Joe Daniels is the President and C.E.O. of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

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