USA // New York City //

September 11 and its aftermath


Completed in 1973, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were an integral part of New York’s legendary skyline, and a symbol of the city’s social and economic success. At 8.46am on September 11, 2001, a hijacked airliner slammed into the north tower; seventeen minutes later another hijacked plane struck the south tower. As thousands looked on in horror – in addition to hundreds of millions viewing on TV – the south tower collapsed at 9.50am, its twin at 10.30am. In all, 2995 people perished at the WTC and the simultaneous attack on Washington DC.

In 2003, Polish-born American architect Daniel Libeskind was named the winner of a competition to design the new World Trade Center, though his plans were initially plagued with controversy and he’s had little subsequent involvement with the project. In 2006 a modified design, still incorporating Libeskind’s original 1776ft-high Freedom Tower, was finally accepted and construction is now well underway, supervised by architect David Childs. The whole $12-billion scheme should be complete by 2014–15 (though the planned date has been put back numerous times). The project includes the National September 11 Memorial and Museum; the memorial comprises two voids representing the footprints of the original towers, surrounded by oak trees and rings of water falling into illuminated pools. The underground museum will use artefacts and exhibits to tell the story of 9/11.

Until it’s completed, you can peek into the Ground Zero construction site and visit the Tribute WTC Visitor Center (Mon & Wed–Sat 10am–6pm, Tues noon–6pm, Sun noon–5pm; $10; t 212/393-9160, w, 120 Liberty St between Greenwich and Church streets, which also arranges daily walking tours of the site’s perimeter ($10). The centre houses five small galleries that commemorate the attacks of 9/11, beginning with a model of the Twin Towers and a moving section about the day itself, embellished with video and taped accounts of real-life survivors. You can also check out St Paul’s Chapel (Mon–Sat 10am–6pm, Sun 7am–3pm; free), at Fulton Street and Broadway, dating from 1766; the main attraction inside is “Unwavering Spirit”, a poignant exhibition on 9/11.

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