It was 9/11 yesterday, and as a New Englander I had the opportunity to drive down to New York and visit the National September 11 Memorial. I was hoping to get there and back again in time to tell my dear readers about it in yesterday’s post, but New York traffic was rather unforgiving on such an important day.
It’s not too late to share my experience at one of the most profound pieces of aquatic architecture I’ve ever encountered.
To begin, I should help you get into the mood of New York. It’s crowded. Cars and swarms of people choke the streets, and even the sky is blotted out by towering skyscrapers. Just being in the city can make you feel claustrophobic, especially if you’re more accustomed to the countryside.
The 9/11 Memorial takes that sensation and flips it on its head. The memorial is simply… empty. It is a profound nothingness surrounded by an overcrowded, bustling city. You’re left with a feeling of loss, as if some force had simply scooped up a pair of buildings with all of the people still in them and wiped their existence from the face of the planet.
The water in the two large, square-shape pools creates a truly singular experience. The roar of the water drowns out the background noise, so you feel almost as though this location is separate from the rest of the city. The pools also reflect the tips of nearby skyscrapers as a way to remind visitors that a pair of truly great buildings once stood here.
The second thing that’s important to understand is just how massive the memorial is. Each pool is one acre, or 4,000 square meters. To help put that into perspective, people standing on the other side of the pool are mere specks. They’re so far away that you can’t even tell what gender or how old they are.
Now, try to wrap your brain around the size of these monuments with the lists of names that run along the border of these towers. These names include victims from:
- The World Trade Center North
- World Trade Center South
- Flight 11
- Flight 175
- Flight 77
- Flight 93
- First Responders
- The Pentagon
- The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing
That’s 2,983 names in all — men, women, and children who were lost because of one callous act of terrorism. Each name is engraved deep into the marble border surrounding the memorial. Much like the pools themselves, these name-shaped holes strike you with a sense of regret and loss that’s difficult to handle.