Ground Zero is the site where the World Trade Center stood prior to the attack that took place on the 11th of September 2001. The spot has now become a memorial for the 2,977 people that were killed that day (including those on the four hijacked planes and those in the pentagon), as well as the six people who were killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
The term ‘ground zero’ usually refers to the epicentre of an atomic bomb explosion. The attack, often referred to as 9/11, was the largest loss of life from a foreign attack on American soil and the single greatest loss of rescue personnel in American history. The destruction was compared to that of an atomic bomb and so the site became known as Ground Zero.
The memorial consists of twin reflecting pools, each nearly one acre in size, featuring the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. Surrounding the pools are the names of every person who died in these attacks. The memorial was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker following a global competition that included over 5,200 entries from 63 nations. It has a place of hope for the future as well as a tribute to the past.
Within the grounds of the memorial is the Survivor Tree. This callery pear tree was discovered severely damaged with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. It was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation it was returned to the memorial in 2010 and now stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth. The new, smooth limbs that extend from the gnarled stumps create a visible demarkation between the tree’s past and present.
Behind the tree, towering above the memorial, is One World Trade Center. The 1,776 foot tall skyscraper has become the western hemisphere’s tallest building and one of the most iconic landmarks of New York. Designed by architect, David Childs, the cubic base has a footprint identical to that the original Twin Towers.
In 2003 the then governor, George Pataki, named the building the Freedom Tower. Many people felt this name and the building’s height were important symbols of the resolve and determination on the part of the American people to fight terrorism. As the building advanced some minds changed and, in 2009, Port Authority quietly changed the name to One World Trade Centre. It was believed that the old name was emotionally charged and felt that being forever associated with the attack and the profound loss, leasing efforts may be hindered. Regardless of the official name change, the building is still referred to by many (including in the poem ‘One Today‘ read at the swearing in ceremony of President Obama) as the Freedom Tower.
At the top of the building is the One World Observatory, an enclosed observation deck that sits 1,250 feet above street level. Voted the best new attraction in the world by Telegraph Travel UK, the sky pod elevators whisk guests to the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds. The elevators display a virtual time-lapse that recreates the New York City’s skyline from the 1500s to the present day with floor-to-ceiling LED technology. Within the observatory is the See Forever Theatre, the Sky Portal and three restaurants with skyline views.