The deeply moving New York 9/11 Memorial Walking Tour departs outside of the entrance to St. Paul’s Chapel, located at 209 Broadway, between Vesey and Fulton Streets. You meet your guide within walking distance of the Ground Zero site. Your guide will share key facts, illuminating events and heartbreaking stories of the tragic day while weaving through the various attractions within the World Trade Center area.
One of the first surrounding sites you'll explore is St Paul’s Chapel, Manhattan’s oldest surviving church building (George Washington worshipped here) and oldest public building in continuous use.
You’ll see one of the first memorials to honor 9/11 – the American Express Eleven Tears Memorial, commissioned and constructed to honor the 11 employees killed in the terrorist attack. Entitled 11 Tears, it occupies a lobby corner of American Express’ corporate headquarters at the World Financial Center. The work “unites sky and ground, heaven and earth” and incorporates natural elements: water, light, quartz crystal and black granite. At the center is a 600 pound tear-shaped piece of Brazilian quartz, which was carved to have 11 sides, one for each victim.
Your next stop is the Winter Garden Atrium, a 10-story glass-vaulted pavilion on Vesey Street in New York City's World Financial Center. Originally constructed in 1988, the Atrium houses various plants, trees and flowers, and shops. The rear of the building opens onto the World Financial Center Plaza and the North Cove Yacht Harbor on the Hudson River. The Atrium was severely damaged in the September 11 attacks as almost all the glass panes were blown out by the dust clouds triggered by the collapse of the Twin Towers. It was substantially rebuilt and reopened on September 17, 2002 – the first major structure to be completely restored following the attacks.
The focus of the tour, of course, will be the Ground Zero site, where you’ll be allowed entry for one hour. You’ll see the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located on the spot where the Twin Towers stood. The Memorial was opened on September 11, 2011, while the Museum will open in September 2012. The Memorial is designed with two pools, each having a large, man-made waterfall cascading down its side, located within the footprints of the Twin Towers. The pools are inscribed with the nearly 3,000 names of the victims of the 9/11 attacks and the attack of February 26, 1993, and symbolize the loss of life and the physical void left by the terrorist attacks. The sound of the water falling is supposed to drown out the sounds of the city, making the site a contemplative sanctuary. Almost 400 sweet gum and swamp white oak trees fill the Memorial Plaza, furthering the reflective nature of the site.
Another tree you’ll learn about is the Survivor Tree, a callery pear that survived the devastation and was preserved for re-planting. The tree was recovered from the rubble in October 2001, long after recovery workers expected to find anything alive at the site. At the time of its recovery, it was 8-feet tall, badly burned, and it had only one living branch. After extensive care at a nursery in the Bronx, the tree, a symbol of hope and rebirth, was replanted at the Memorial in December 2010.
The tour ends at the Memorial and from there you can make your way back to your accommodation or onward to your next destination.