15 Things To Know Before Visiting the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

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People around the world old enough to remember September 11th, 2001, especially New Yorkers, will remember this as the day America stood still. New York City’s 9/11 Memorial and Memorial Museum pay tribute to every life that was lost during attacks, and immortalize the events and emotions that unfolded on that horrific day. 

These 15 things to know before visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum will help you prepare for your visit to New York City, and inform you of some of what to expect during your visit.

Table of Contents

What happened on 9/11

The 9/11 Memorial during summer, NYC
The 9/11 Memorial during summer, NYC

The September 11 attacks, also known as “9/11”, were terrorist attacks on the United States carried out by members of al-Qaeda, militant Islamic terrorist organisation. Coordinated airplane hijackings took place on four commercial airlines on the East Coast of the U.S. on the morning of September 11th. Their intent was to cause mass American casualties by crashing the planes into prominent U.S. buildings.

At 8:46 am, the first plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Seventeen minutes later at 9:03 am, the second plane crashed into the South Tower. A third plane crashed into the side of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a fourth plane bound for a federal building in Washington D.C. crashed in a field in Pennsylvania when heroic airplane passengers revolted against the hijackers. 

Within two hours from impact, both 110-story World Trade Center towers (the Twin Towers) crumbled to the ground. In total, over 3,000 people were killed and 25,000 injured as part of these attacks including many first responders who had arrived on-site.

Impact of 9/11 on NYC

The Fire Department Memorial Wall, NYC
The Fire Department Memorial Wall, NYC

The 9/11 attacks left many Americans badly shaken and distraught. This event changed New Yorkers and New York City forever – for a long time, people were scared of further terrorist attacks, feeling angry, heartbroken, and other emotions impossible to put into words.

Immediately after the attacks the financial and aviation sector in New York suffered massive job losses, and even the whole American economy saw a dip in production. Posters of missing family members were posted all around Manhattan and it took years to remove all the rubble of the collapsed buildings. 9/11 to this day is a tragedy many New Yorkers say changed their lives and the country forever.

What is the 9/11 Memorial and Museum?

Victims names at the 9/11 Memorial, NYC
Victims names at the 9/11 Memorial, NYC

The 9/11 Memorial commemorates and remembers the lives lost on September 11th, 2001 and the Memorial Museum educates future generations about what unfolded on 9/11. Also remembered here is the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, another terrorist attack when a truck bomb was detonated in the parking garage of the North Tower. Six people were killed, although the intent of the terrorist attack was to bomb the North Tower so it would fall down to hit the South Tower. 

New York City opened the 9/11 Memorial to the public in 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The memorial is made up of two sunken pools made in the exact footprint where each of the North and South Twin Towers used to stand. Waterfalls stream down from the bronze walls of the pool, which are inscribed with the names of each of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. In the heart of bustling Lower Manhattan, the spacious public memorial is both powerful and peaceful. 

The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened in 2014. It remembers the victims of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in both 2001 and 1993 and commemorates the heroic acts performed during these times of tragedy. The 110,000 square feet of displays are mostly underground, at the base of the 9/11 Memorial waterfalls.

Buy museum tickets ahead of time

The 9/11 Museum, New York City
The 9/11 Museum, New York City

When planning to visit the 9/11 Memorial museum in NYC, it’s recommended to buy tickets ahead of time. Although the 9/11 Memorial itself is a public space and can be admired any time of the day, the 9/11 Museum requires more planning to visit if you don’t want to be denied entry, or wait in line to enter. GetYourGuide offers skip-the-line tickets that can be booked in advance, to secure your spot to visit the museum. Due to limited entry numbers, tickets may also sell out for the day you plan to visit. 

If you only have a short period of time in New York City, be sure to book tickets in advance!

Be emotionally prepared for your visit

The 9/11 wall stories, NYC
The 9/11 wall stories, NYC

Many visitors leave the 9/11 Museum feeling overwhelmed and emotionally spent. The museum seeks to remember the events of September 11th, and it has immortalized many remnants of that day to do so. In addition to TV footage of when the planes hit the Twin Towers, the museum houses personal belongings and stories of people who lost their lives. It also has first-person interviews of survivors recalling their movements during the attacks, and recordings of the last phone calls made to loved ones from hijacked planes. If you have also experienced trauma or loss in your life, this museum may be especially overwhelming. 

Spending 2-4 hours in the museum learning about the events can be taxing for anyone. Be sure to spend some time after the museum at the outdoor 9/11 Memorial to reflect on your experiences and take a break before continuing your trip through New York City.

Be respectful and mindful of your behavior

Visitors to the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum are asked to behave in a respectful manner. Like holocaust memorials in Berlin or Washington D.C, the 9/11 Memorial is not the place to be making funny poses for social media attention. You never know when someone next to you has lost someone as a result of the terrorist attacks, so making jokes or laughing excessively can be insensitive.

Think twice before bringing young children to the 9/11 Museum

Children visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum, NYC
Children visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum, NYC

Some of the exhibits at the 9/11 Memorial Museum may not be appropriate for young children. They can be frightening or disturbing to young minds and active imaginations. Consider having a conversation with your kids around what happened on 9/11 and determining the appropriateness of visiting with them, before planning your trip to the 9/11 Museum. 

Discussing these tragic events with young kids is also no easy task. An age-appropriate audio guide recommended for 8-11 year old children is available at the museum. The Memorial Museum also offers advice on how to talk to children about terrorism and answer any questions they might have too.

Visit early in the morning or late in the evening

Video projections inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum, NYC
Video projections inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum, NYC

Like many attractions in New York City, avoid the crowds by visiting either early in the morning when the Museum opens, or in the evening before it closes. Just be sure to give yourself enough time (2-4 hours) to experience the Museum in full. The 9/11 Memorial and Memorial Museum opening hours and days are listed below.

Join a 9/11 tour to learn more/learn first hand experiences

GetYourGuide offers skip-the-line tickets but also guided tours of the 9/11 Memorial, led by local New Yorkers who have a personal connection to the 9/11 attacks. 

This 90-minute tour of the 9/11 Memorial starts at nearby St. Paul’s Chapel, which survived the crumbling buildings on September 11th. Hear personal stories of how everyday citizens became heroes. All-access tour and ticket options include One World Observatory tickets and 9/11 Memorial Museum tickets. Private tour options are also available.

Health and safety requirements for visiting the 9/11 Museum

Visitors to the 9/11 Memorial Museum are welcomed and encouraged to wear face masks at any time. Face masks are required for indoor guided tours and auditorium programs within the museum, but they are optional in all other places including the outdoor 9/11 Memorial. 

The coat check and cafe are closed at the time of writing, so plan accordingly. Check the latest health and safety requirements of the indoor 9/11 Museum on their website.

How to get to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The street address of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is:

180 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10281

The entrance to the museum is closest to Greenwich Street, near the South Tower Pool. 

  • By Subway: 
    • A, C, 1, 2, or 3 to Chambers Street
    • A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4, or 5 trains to Fulton Street
    • 2 or 3 trains to Park Place
    • E train to World Trade Center
    • R train to Rector Street
    • R train to Cortlandt Street
    • 1 train to WTC Cortlandt
  • By Bus: 
    • M55 Southbound at Broadway and Thames Street 
    • M55 Northbound at Trinity Place and Rector Street 
    • M20 Southbound at South End Avenue between Liberty Street and Albany Street 
    • M22 Southbound at Vesey Street between North End Avenue and West Street
  • By Car: If you’re driving to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the nearest parking garage is at the Brookfield Place shopping center, with the entrance located at 250 Vesey Street. 2-hour parking is $30 USD at the time of writing. 

9/11 Memorial Museum hours

The 9/11 Memorial is open every day of the week, from 10am to 5pm.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum is open every Thursday to Monday, from 10am to 5pm.

Pay homage to the surviving 9/11 tree

A pear tree located at the base of the World Trade Center towers has been nicknamed the “Survivor Tree” after being discovered with burned and broken branches just after the 9/11 attacks. The tree was removed from the rubble, preserved and rehabilitated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, then re-planted at Ground zero in 2010. 

The tree stands at the 9/11 Memorial today as a reminder of the survival, resilience, and rebirth after tragedy.

Resources for learning about 9/11

Consider reading novels about 9/11, both fictional and non-fictional, as an opportunity for the travelers to New York City to learn about 9/11, the emotions it evoked across New York, the country and the world, and its aftereffects. Especially for children, this is an engaging way to learn about the events that unfolded. 

Check out these books before your next visit to New York City:

  • This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth by Sean Rubin (for ages 5-7)
  • Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes (for ages 9-12)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – by Jonathan Safran Foer (for ages 16+)

How to support families of 9/11 victims and first responders affected by 9/11

Ways that you can help victims and the families of those affected by 9/11 might be of interest to visitors to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan. 

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum website has a number of options for visitors to get involved, including volunteering, becoming a member, and even joining a 5k Run/Walk and community day. 

Listed here are more ideas for how you can help heal after 9/11 and support first responders in New York City. 

Written by Erika from Erika’s Travelventures. Erika’s Travelventures is a blog about budget backpacking, trekking, and solo female traveling around the world.

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