After my birthday trip to Washington, DC a few weeks ago, Mr. Right had to go to Europe on business. I took that opportunity to take a train to New York City for a few days of exploring the city on my own. The two main things on my agenda were visiting the 9/11 museum and seeing the musical “Beautiful”, which is a show about Carol King’s music.
The train ride from DC to NYC is a little over three hours, and so I planned my trip so I would have time to check into my hotel before attending the “Beautiful “matinee. It was outstanding. I had no idea that Carol King wrote as many songs as she did. I think I knew every word to every song. If you get a chance, try to see this show.
The next morning, which was rainy and overcast, I had a reservation to visit the 9/11 museum and memorial. Normally, when the weather is decent in NYC, I try to walk everywhere. I really don’t want to spend my time underground on a subway when I can soak in all that the city has to offer. However, I stayed near Columbus Circle, and the museum was all of the way down town. When I exited the subway, I was shocked how narrow the streets were.
This area of NYC is one of the oldest sections of town, and I guess when the streets were built, they just didn’t plan on all of the people, businesses, traffic, etc. Compared to many streets in the city, these were very compact.
While planning my trip, I purchased my tickets on line and had a reservations for 10 a.m. There were not a lot of people there yet, but when I left, the place was getting busier. The museum is built right on the former location of the towers, and you walk down into the very lowest point of the former towers.
Along the way there are photos and descriptions. For instance, this is what the towers looked like before the attack.
This is what they looked like that evening.
One of the photos that really touched me was this one. It is people evacuating via stairs. They also had shots of the first responders climbing stairs to save people.
Then around the corner were the actual stairs.
This is the remains of an escalator.
These are some of the beams that were supporting the building, and the impact of the collapse just bent them up like thin pieces of wire.
This is the last beam that was standing after all of the wreckage had been removed. There were forty-some of these massive beams supporting the structures originally. This one was still erect. People who worked on the clean-up process signed it. That’s the original wall in the bowels of the towers behind it.
This is one of the fire trucks that were damaged during the collapse.
The beacon on the top of the building took a major hit. They also had a huge elevator motor that was a mangled mess.
An artist made these tiles to depict different peoples’ versions of the blue sky that day. The lettering was made from steel in the building.
After these artifacts, the tour continued in a series of rooms that were devoted to the day and to the people and things who were killed or affected . We were not allowed to take photos in there out of respect for the deceased. There was a burned up chair that had been in a neighborhood apartment. The heat from the explosion was so great, that the chair burned up. There were bicycles that were bent out of shaped, yet they were still chained to a bicycle stand. They even had a recordings and information on the terrorists and how it all started with Osama Bin Laden.
After the tour I visited the memorial that was so well done.
Then I stopped in to see St. Paul’s Church. This just happens to be the oldest church in Manhattan, and George Washington even attended some services there. It was just a few blocks from the towers, but its only damage was the loss of one window pane. For nine months, the workers could come to this church to eat, rest, sleep, or pray.
They had this bench on display. It was marred from the boots and equipment that the workers wore when they lay down for a rest or a nap.
People attached photos of missing persons to this church altar.
The church just underwent a major renovation, and they removed the benches in favor of chairs so they can have church “in the round.”
After I visited the museum, memorial, and church, I spent a long time just walking around the busy neighborhood and tried to imagine what it was like on that sunny September day. I tried to imagine the people running in fear down those narrow streets, and the noise and confusion. I also tried to imagine the sirens of the trucks blasting as they maneuvered those big vehicles through the congestion.
It was a day we will never forget, and it changed our lives forever. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to visit this site, and I am so thankful to all of the people who died there, survived there, helped there, and have rebuilt there. That is what America is all about, and I feel that we forget so many times that we all salute one flag.
If you go –
1. Buy your tickets online in advance so you will not have to wait in line at the museum.
2. You can reserve the time that you want to visit. Plan to make it a morning visit so the museum and memorial won’t be as crowded.
3. Several subway lines run to the nearest stop which is a few blocks away.
4. Plan to spend three to four hours at the museum.
5. Photos are only allowed in certain areas once you are inside.
6. After you visit the museum and memorial, visit St. Paul’s Church.
7. There are plenty of restaurants in the area for lunch or a snack.
8. Walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for what it was like on Sept. 11.