September 11 Memorial | Attraction Guides | History Hit

September 11 Memorial

New York City, New York, United States

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About September 11 Memorial

The World Trade Centre was a complex of seven buildings in Manhattan in New York, which was destroyed by terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in a devastating event known as 9/11. Today the site of this former giant is known as Ground Zero or the September 11 Memorial.

History of the World Trade Centre

The World Trade Centre included the iconic Twin Towers, two 110-storey buildings designed by Minoru Yamasaki in the 1960’s and also known as the North and South Towers. At 1,368 feet tall, the North Tower, which was completed in 1972, surpassed the Empire State Building to become the tallest building in the world followed by the South Tower, although they lost this record to the Chicago Sears Tower later in 1973.

Typically, around 50,000 people worked in the Twin Towers with a further 200,000 people visiting on a daily basis. The World Trade Centre suffered a series of incidents throughout its lifetime, including a fire in the North Tower on 13 February 1975 and a terrorist attack in that tower’s underground garage on 26 February 1993 which killed six people. However, it was the events of 9/11 which are permanently ingrained in the global consciousness.

At 08:46 on 11 September 2001, terrorists crashed commercial American Airlines flight 11 into the North Twin Tower, followed shortly by crashing United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower. The impact was enormous. At 9:59, the South Tower collapsed, the North Tower following suit at 10:28. Whilst approximately 15,000 people were safely evacuated, the World Trade Centre attacks claimed almost 3,000 casualties, the worst casualty rate for a terrorist attack in US history.

The impact of the collapse of the towers saw the surrounding area heavily damaged – the clean up operation took nearly a year. The World Trade Centre had been an American icon, and their loss was momentous in every way possible.

The World Trade Centre today (now known as Ground Zero)

On the site of the iconic Twin Towers, which were part of the World Trade Centre complex, there is now a memorial and museum which remember the tragic events of 9/11 and those who lost their lives. It’s an incredibly moving site – you’ll learn about the events which led up to the incident, the unspeakably harrowing hours on the morning of 9/11, and the stories that emerged from it.

There are good temporary exhibitions which look at some of the surrounding context to the event, including the construction of the World Trade Centre and the subsequent ‘War on Terror’ and hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Ladder 3 Firetruck and the so-called Survivors’ Staircase are particularly poignant.

Getting to Ground Zero

The memorial is accessed via Greenwich Street or Dey Street. The nearest subway stations at Cortlandt St and World Trade Center, both of which are a couple of minutes walk away. Any taxi driver in the city will be able to take you here: it’s about a 30 minute ride south of Manhattan.

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