How to visit the World Trade Center Site

How to visit the World Trade Center Site

Visiting the World Trade Center Site is one of the most meaningful experiences one can have in New York City. Let’s explore how to visit the site. This will include how to visit the memorial pools, the 9/11 Museum, One World Trade Center, as well as lesser known locations that have great meaning and importance to the events of 9/11. Everyone is going to experience the site differently and my goal is to help you get the experience you need. So let’s begin.




What is the World Trade Center site? Believe it or not, the original World Trade Center site consisted of 7 buildings, the twin towers and 5 other smaller buildings. Those 7 World Trade Center buildings were all built on top of a train station and shopping mall. The official site was 16 acres in size. When the towers fell, the debris destroyed the five other buildings, the train station, and shopping mall. When people refer to “ground zero,” they are referring to the original 16 acres of the World Trade Center Site, every inch of which is filled with meaning and personal stories.




For security purposes, cabs and buses can’t park immediately at the 9/11 memorial. As such, I recommend taking the subway. Which train you take, of course, depends on where you are coming from, but here are the stops you want, all of which will lead you to the Oculus!


1 Train: World Trade Center Site

2 & 3 Trains: Park Place

E Train: World Trade Center

A & C Train: Chambers Street

R & W Train: Cortlandt St. 

4 & 5 Train: Fulton St. 

J & Z trains: Fulton St. 


If you’re coming from New Jersey, you can take the PATH Train to World Trade Center.


There is a boat option as well! Across from the World Trade Center site is Brookfield Place. This is right on the Hudson River, and New York Waterway has a stop at Brookfield Place.




The first thing you need to do when visiting the World Trade Center is to take a tour of the site. Lots of tour companies offer tours of the site, and you can easily find one to match your schedule and price point. 


World Trade Center site tours will talk about the original World Trade Center site, why it was built, and what took place there. This will help you better understand both the events of 9/11 and how the site has been rebuilt. Most of this information is not easily found online, nor is it common knowledge, and tour guests are constantly amazed at how much there is to learn. 


The site tours will also showcase lesser-known memorials and artifacts such as 11 Tears, Fritz Koenig’s The Sphere, and the firefighters memorial, all powerful tributes to that day.




The 9/11 Memorial pools are officially called “Reflecting Absence.” These two reflecting pools sit in the exact footprints of the original twin towers. Around the pools are the names of 2977 innocent people who lost their lives. Do be respectful when you visit, as the memorial is an active gravesite. The person you are standing next to might be there mourning a loved one. 


Certain names might have flowers, photos, or other memorabilia placed on them. The items are usually placed on the memorial by loved ones. The exceptions are the single white roses, which are placed there by the people who run the memorial. The white roses denote that it would be that person’s birthday today. 


The hours of the memorial pools are subject to change. Make sure you check the hours, as there are times of the year when the pools can close as early as 5 pm. They are currently open until 8 pm.




The 9/11 Museum is the most personal experience of all. Many guests ask if they “need” to visit the Museum. The museum is a very intense and comprehensive experience, and if that is not something you currently want to experience, you shouldn’t feel pressured to go into the museum.


That being said, the 9/11 Museum is an expertly done museum. It is respectful, compassionate, and thorough. Inside you will find giant artifacts such as a fire truck cut in half by falling wreckage, pieces of the airplanes that hit the towers, and large metal columns that held the towers up. You will also see small artifacts such as a ring one of the victim’s was wearing that day. The museum has a historical exhibit that walks you through the events of September 11th minute by minute.


The Museum estimated that visitors would spend about 2 hours in the museum. In reality, many guests either need way more time, because it is so in-depth, or it is too overwhelming and they need to leave quickly. It is your experience, do what you need to do to take care of you.




After visiting the museum, I strongly suggest a visit to One World Observatory. A visit to One World Observatory, the observation deck on top of the building that replaced the original twin towers, will give you a sense of rising from the ashes like a phoenix. Enjoy views from 1254 feet up in the sky, watch the tour ambassadors give presentations at City Pulse, and feel free to ask them questions about the view as you walk around.


St. Paul’s Chapel


Taking a tour of the site, visiting the museum, and visiting One World Observatory is a long day in and of itself, but would you believe there is still more to experience at this site? If you want to experience even more, try a visit to St. Paul’s Chapel. St. Paul’s Chapel is directly across from the original World Trade Center site, and survived the events of 9/11 without a single shingle being knocked out of place. 




Because this can all take a bit of time, you might get hungry. If you’re looking for food, check out O’Hara’s. O’Hara’s is a pub that endured the events of 9/11 and now aims to pave over bad memories with good spirits. The walls are covered in patches from first responders who have visited and paid tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11th. In addition to the World Trade Center connection, O’Hara’s serves up a delicious burger and good booze.


Other places to eat in and around the World Trade Center site include Hudson Eats and Le District at Brookfield Place, PJ Clark’s and Seamore’s in Brookfield Place, Shake Shack in Fulton Center, and Gansevoort Market in the New 4 World Trade Center. For something a bit more upscale, try EATALY in the new 4 World Trade Center. Or you can do as the locals do and grab food from Sam’s Falafel in Zuccotti Park. 

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