Photo by John Mcinnes of Save Ellis Island
It’s the 17th anniversary of 9/11 this year and there are many ways to commemorate and mark the day all over the New York City area. Though Lower Manhattan has been mostly rebuilt, the signs and markers of 9/11 still abound in the built environment, and the tragic events of that clear, sunny morning in 2001 have been seared into the memories of New Yorkers and those visiting that day. Here are 10 unique ways you can pay your respects:
1. Visit the Newly Re-Opened Cortlandt Street Subway Station
On September 8th at noon, the Cortlandt Street subway station at World Trade Center servicing the 1 line re-opened to riders for the first time since it was severely damaged during 9/11 under the weight of the debris from the Twin Towers collapse. The station, which is officially renamed WTC Cortlandt, features wall-to-wall marble mosaic artwork by artist Ann Hamilton, showing text from the 1776 Declaration of Independence and 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
At the press opening, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota spoke of the resurgence downtown since 9/11 as “emblematic of the tremendous resiliency” of Lower Manhattan. Andy Byford, President of MTA New York City Transit, followed up saying that even though he is not from New York, “I recognize the poignancy of this location.”
2. See Largest Free-Flying American Flag
The Port Authority will be flying the world’s largest free-flying flag again at the George Washington Bridge. The flag measures 90 feet by 60 feet and is said to weigh 450 pounds. The flag only flies during special occasions – much like how the bridge gets lit up – and will be displayed from 7:15 AM to 1:15 PM on 9/11.
3. Port Authority’s Annual 9/11 Remembrance
84 Port Authority employees in total were killed on 9/11 and in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. Each year, the Port Authority holds an interfaith remembrance service. This year’s service will be at 2 PM at St. Peter’s Church, located at the intersection of Barclay Street and Church Street.
4. Brooklyn Historical Society Viewing of “2001”
In the Brooklyn Historical Society’s Great Hall, a screening of artist Wolfgang Staehle’s film, 2001, will take place all throughout the day on 9/11. This film actually captured the approach of Flight 11 and the crash into the North Tower, and it is the first time the film will be shown outside the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, who is collaborating on this event.
From the event description:
“Several days prior [to 9/11], Staehle had set up a pair of unmanned webcams in Brooklyn for a project intended to convey the predictable normalcy of life at the start of the 21st century. Instead, those cameras captured a sequence of images that chronicled the transformation of a routine workday into a city under siege. This rare footage, which records the launch of the terrorist attacks on America, shifted the perception of Staehle’s artwork from an aesthetic commentary to forensic evidence. For the next three weeks, his Brooklyn-based cameras continued to document lower Manhattan’s recast skyline with mournful impassivity.”
5. St. Paul’s Chapel, Ringing the Bell of Hope
This will be the sixteenth year the Bell of Hope, gifted to New York City from London, will ring at St. Paul’s Chapel at exactly 8:46 AM, when Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. The rector of Trinity Church, Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, will ring the bell in a specific pattern that is the traditional firefighters salute. The bell was created at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the same firm where the Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell was cast.
There will also be a service at St. Paul’s Chapel at 3 PM which will include the Calling of the Names project – a reading of all the first responders, rescue and recovery workers who died from 9/11.
6. Visit the Updated FDNY World Trade Center Memorial Wall
Photo courtesy FDNY
Last week, the FDNY added 18 new names to its FDNY World Trade Center Memorial Wall, located in the FDNY headquarters in Brooklyn. The new names have all died from illnesses connected to their rescue efforts on 9/11, with a total of 177 firefighters have lost their lives from 9/11-related diseases to date. At the ceremony on September 6th, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said, “This is a day to remember and honor these incredible people who took part in an unprecedented rescue and recovery effort for our Department. Each of the 18 members served bravely, they showed the utmost courage in the face of an evil attack on our city, and true compassion in the face unimaginable devastation. As we pay tribute to these 18 members, their memory lives on.”
7. Visit the Skyscraper Museum’s SKYLINE Exhibit
The Skyscraper Museum’s new exhibit SKYLINE examines the history of New York City’s famous skyline broken down into five periods from 1876 to today. The final era focused on the skyline from 1961-2000, with an emphasis on the Twin Towers, once the tallest buildings in the world until they fell in the 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks.
8. See the Tribute in Light
Photo by John Mcinnes of Save Ellis Island
Tribute in Light, the annual beams of light that rise from Lower Manhattan, has returned this year. Originally produced by the Municipal Arts Society in collaboration with Creative Time, the Tribute in Light is now run by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and for the first time, will be sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Tribute in Light is beamed up into the sky from atop the Battery Parking Garage, using 88 7,000-watt xenon light bulbs arranged in two 48-foot squares. The lights go up four miles and can be seen from a radius of sixty miles. One of the best places to capture Tribute in Light is from across the Hudson River, on Ellis Island, Liberty Island or New Jersey. See behind the scenes photos that show how the Tribute in Light is put into action.
9. See a 9/11 PATH Train that Was Recovered from Ground Zero
On September 11, 2016, two PATH cars from the train that was found beneath the World Trade Center site opened the public for the first time at two different trolley museums: The Shore Line Trolley Museum in Connecticut and the Kingston Trolley Museum in New York. The train was ordered to be evacuated before the Twin Towers fell. Most of the train was found destroyed, but two cars remained intact and were given to the two trolley museums in 2015. The advertisements that were present on 9/11 are still there as well as the signage on the front of the train, that says “WTC.” Shaun Winton, then director of the Shore Line Trolley Museum, told us on a visit that coffee cups and other items were found inside – literally abandoned in the rush to evacuate.
10. Mass at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral at 273 Mott Street in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan will be hosting a special mass on the morning of September 11 to honor the fallen FDNY firemen as well as active ones. The church’s mass has been known to attract many notable people, including many firemen and celebrities like Steve Buscemi who all gather to honor the victims of 9/11.
Bonus: See the Opening of the Oculus Skylight
The central skylight in the Santiago Calatrava-designed transportation hub (aka the Oculus) will open exactly at 10:28 AM, the time the North Tower fell. This only happens once a year on September 11th.
Bonus: Track Down the Many Memorials and Remnants of 9/11 Throughout NYC
If going to public events isn’t your thing, there are still many ways to commemorate 9/11 on your own. Check out our list of memorials and remnants located through out New York City, including the Postcards memorial (above) on Staten Island which recently received $250,000 for new lighting and preservation from the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Other locations include the Survivor Tree, remnants in a secret military bar, a cross of WTC steel in Rockaway, and more.
Next, discover the secrets of the 9/11 Memorial.