By Heather Quinlan
As humans, we strive to remember the people and events in our lives that we deem important, even as we constantly push forward. The new One World Trade Center is trying to do both.
The Museum Below
Visitors will come to the World Trade Center Museum to understand the events of that fateful day. The museum will tell the stories of those who survived and those who didn't. In an effort to include the many accounts, artifacts and mementoes, a large-scale effort has begun to combine the Twin Towers of the past with the memorial of the future.
The bulk of the museum will reside underground, in a 100,000-square-foot (9,290-square-meter) space meant to contain everything from Sept. 11 fire and rescue vehicles, to the staircase of one of the towers, to bent and twisted street signs. Its underground location will enable visitors to see the foundation that began the One World Trade Center, as well as the footprint of the old South Tower, preserved in the bedrock.
The Ghost Tower Above
It's this piece from the past — the section where the tower began, where the One World Trade Center first gave rise to such promise — that will form one of the museum's most beautiful and heartbreaking sections. The Memorial Fountain, designed to appear above the South Tower footprint, will look almost as though it is floating overhead, like some sort of ethereal ghost tower.
The Steadfast Wall at the Center
Many hours of design and construction have gone into merging what's left of the Twin Towers with the new memorial. The slurry wall, originally built to prevent the tides of the Hudson River from flooding the site, will gain new life as a museum exhibit. But it's more than a relic. Even as the towers collapsed that day, the slurry wall held fast, a symbol of endurance even in the face of great tragedy.
In addition, remnants of Sept. 11, which have been stored in John F. Kennedy International Airport's Hangar 17 for nearly a decade, will be reintroduced to the public upon the museum's opening. They won't be easy to take in. Artifacts include the impact steel that the planes hit when they collided with the towers, and a vehicle room that will contain more than 20 emergency vehicles that were partially destroyed.
Where Are We Now?
The World Trade Center Memorial and Museum have been both logistical challenges and labors of love. And while New York will never be the same after the attacks, its inhabitants have succeeded in doing what they're famous for: forging ahead, despite the difficulties, and making New York a better city than it was before. As Pete Hamill, writer and native New Yorker once said, ""The best part of New York came out on September 12."" This museum will honor that spirit along with the survivors and victims of the tragedy.
As of today, the annual Tribute in Light is the closest remembrance we have to the Twin Towers; 88 searchlights in two columns beamed up toward the sky. When the museum opens, we'll have a place to celebrate the towers as they once were, and to remember them long into the future.
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