The 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade Center Part I

By Daniel DeMarco |Copy Editor|

One World Trade Center

Daniel DeMarco | Chronicle Photo

When I first turned a street corner that gave me a full view of the new tower, it hit me: This is not some tourist attraction—this is something special.

The site gives off a heavy feeling and the closer you get, the heavier it feels until you find yourself walking on the very ground the whole world was watching together on that Tuesday morning.

To me, there was some redemption in this; it was a personal moment I had been waiting for.

I walked those grounds before, but at a profoundly different time. In April 2001, I had visited New York City and walked between the Twin Towers.

I distinctly remember my parents letting me choose whether we would go atop the Empire State Building or the World Trade Center; we were limited on time and could only tour one.

I don’t regret it because I had good reasons in mind at the time, but eight-year-old me picked the Empire State Building because it had more history behind it and was the more classic building of New York.

As we all know, five months later those towers were gone and I would never get that second chance to see them and ascend to their heights.

It was a day I remember vividly, nine-years-old at that point, though admittedly I could not fully comprehend the significance and importance of those events.

Fourteen years provided a lot of time for curiosity to develop and opportunity to learn; thus, I’d like to think I have a much better grasp as I write this.

In a sense, this was a personal endeavor to pay my respects; I wanted to stand on those grounds again; I wanted to reflect on that site where the world was changed.

The new tower, One World Trade Center, is simply awe-inspiring. It nearly dwarfs the other high-rises that surround it, shining like a prized jewel with its sleek architecture and glass-plating from top to bottom.

A view of Manhattan from Ellis Island. Daniel DeMarco | Chronicle Photo

A view of Manhattan from Ellis Island. Daniel DeMarco | Chronicle Photo

When you reflect upon the representation of that tower, upon why it was built, it adds an element to the appreciation that cannot be replicated with any other building; it carries extra meaning allowing it to reach upper echelons of beauty where it stands alone.

One World Trade Center does not sit directly where the Twin Towers sat though. Those spaces reside just south of the tower where the whole original plot has been redesigned as a memorial.

The two spots where the Twin Towers once stood are now two square fountains, about one acre in size each.

They are not traditional fountains, which shoot water outward, rather, two massive pools lined with waterfalls where water cascades inward.

One fountain of the memorial Reflecting Absence.

One fountain of the memorial Reflecting Absence. Daniel DeMarco | Chronicle Photo


The memorial is called “Reflecting Absence”—reflecting on the absence of what once was.

Outside of the waterfalls, on the edge of the two fountains, are bronze panels surrounding each with the names of everyone who died on 9/11, as well as the six people who died from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, cut out of the copper—representing their absence.

Every victim's name is cut out of the bronze paneling surrounding both fountains.

Every victim’s name is cut out of the bronze paneling surrounding both fountains.  Daniel DeMarco | Chronicle Photo


The names are strategically arranged in various ways—some names are together as family, some are together as friends, some are together as coworkers. In all, there are 2,983 names.

They’re not just names though, they are real people who don’t get to reflect on that fateful day, like you or I.

I found myself standing at the edge of the north tower fountain and tears welled up in my eyes when I really let it settle in what the ground was that I was standing on.

It was the site of such havoc and mayhem—two of the largest buildings in the world collapsed right where I was standing. Thousands of people died where I stood.

The amount of sorrow and fear that was directed to the area where I was standing is beyond comprehension—people lost husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, and fellow human beings.

The amount of courage and heroism that was present where I was standing is immeasurable: Lives were sacrificed for others, people endangered themselves to help those in the buildings, people volunteered to do whatever they could do in aid, people spent days straight at the site looking for survivors; the volume of selflessness almost transcends the horror.

All of that was very real at the site, a site that is now a sanctuary of mourning, reflection, and a peacefulness I can’t quite compare to anything else as the waterfalls block out the sounds of the city.

I hesitate to call it a moment of transcendence, but I don’t know what else would describe it. It felt like being on an island—this space of land had such an atmosphere of calmness and placidity, yet it rests in the heart of New York City: the city that never sleeps.

It isn’t just some tourist attraction and it isn’t just some historical site; it truly is the place of something remarkably special—something beyond the physical; something that must be felt with ache, with wonder, and with care.


Click here to read Part II.

A visitor pays their respects by leaving an American flag. Daniel DeMarco | Chronicle Photo

A visitor pays their respects by leaving an American flag. Daniel DeMarco | Chronicle Photo

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