Amidst the hustle and bustle of New York’s Financial District is a space resting in eternal calmness. Its presence disrupts the fast-paced, high-stress atmosphere characterized by hasty businessmen and businesswomen confined to their headphones and cellular devices. Thousands of tourists and New Yorkers alike convene here to admire and recognize what is there, or more accurately, what is missing.
In 2004, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation’s design was determined by the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition. The winning design, “Reflecting Absence” by Michael Arad (pictured above) & Peter Walker, was materialized with the help of master plan architect Daniel Libeskind and opened to the public September 12th, 2011, ten years after the most devastating terrorist attack in American history.
The minimalist design lives up to its name; the memorial is distinguished by identical square foundations flooded by continuously running water. 2,977 names of the individuals that perished during the fateful 9/11 attacks are inscribed on the perimeter of the memorial. The waterfalls generate a steady rushing noise, as if the mystifying liquid summons the whispers of those that lost their lives on those very same grounds. In the evening, the squares illuminate nearby, and the golden light shines across the crystal clear water.
The majestic and serene atmosphere of the World Trade Center area sharply contrasts the horror and tragedy that struck over 15 years ago. While the breathtaking structures directly commemorate the lives lost on that fateful day, Arad’s design also signifies the sacrifices of those committed to protecting this country. The memorial’s aura is solemn yet strong, and the memorial inspires Americans of all backgrounds to form a community and fight for each other.
The memorial assumed its current name, the National September 11th Memorial & Museum, in 2007. Since its opening, the National September 11th Memorial & Museum has expanded to accommodate the large annual influx of visitors. The historic site is a forest in an urban jungle and includes the memorial, the museum, which opened in 2014, and the 9/11 Tribute Center, which offers walking tours hosted by first responders, survivors, and the family members of the victims.