Elected officials gathered to cut the ribbon for the Tribute Center
Elected officials gathered next to the World Trade Center site on September 6th for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to herald the opening of the Tribute WTC Visitors' Center. Jennifer Adams, CEO of the September 11th Families Association, proposed the location for the museum in February 2004. Construction began on the site in November 2005 and was completed last week. The center will open to the public on September 18th.
"Tribute tells a rich and painful story of those we lost and those who remain," said Lynn Tierney, Tribute Center president, to open the program.
The Tribute WTC Visitors' Center houses five galleries and runs a Walking Tour program led by members of the September 11th Families Association and the wider 9/11 community. Together, the center and walking tours are designed to inform, educate, and form personal connections for visitors who come from across the world to learn about the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center. The walking tours, which follow the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, began in September 2005 and have attracted more 15,000 visitors to date.
"The Tribute WTC Visitors' Center began as a way for a father to pay tribute to his son, and the project grew into a way for a city to honor its own," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the center's opening. "This is clearly an example of how an exceptionally dedicated group -- with limited resources, passionate hearts, and a strong will -- can make a big impact on our city," he continued.
The father that Bloomberg spoke of, Lee Ielpi, lost his oldest son, New York City firefighter Jonathan Ielpi, on September 11, 2001. "I know that sharing my story and the story of the search for my son helps people realize the true nature of this disaster," Ielpi said. "I can tell them what it's like for a dad to lose his boy and then have to search for him, and so many others, in the rubble. Telling our personal stories humanizes the impact of this terrible act and reminds people this must never happen again," he continued.
The Tribute WTC Visitors' Center was developed by the September 11th Families Association. The center cost $3.4 million to design and construct and was jointly funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
"While we build a grand memorial and memorial museum at the World Trade Center site, the Tribute Center will be an interim destination for the millions of visitors who come here to learn and share experiences with the September 11th community," Governor George Pataki said.
The Tribute Center experience begins with information on the World Trade Center itself, including a film about its construction and details about the vibrant community that grew up around it. From there, photos and relics take visitors on a journey through the event that brought the towers down. The collection features several large items recovered from Ground Zero, including a window section of one of the planes that slammed into the buildings and a piece of steel from one of the towers. Smaller items donated by family and friends of victims are also included, among them handwritten notes, a fly fishing tie, a set of keys, deposit slips, and ID cards. The uniform of firefighter Jonathan Ielpi is on loan from the Ielpi family. The Tribute Center also contains a 30-foot-long wall of victim's photos.
The Tribute Center is located at 120 Liberty Street, the site of the former Liberty Deli. Occupying 6,000 square feet on two floors, the center features four galleries on the first floor and a fifth gallery on the lower level.
Tribute Center: 120 Liberty Street (between Church Street and Greenwich Street)
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Sunday
Walking Tours: Tours are offered on weekdays at 1 and 3 p.m. and on weekends at noon, 1, 2, and 3 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults; children under 12 are free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.tributenyc.org. Tours meet in front of 120 Liberty Street. Nearest subway stations include World Trade Center and Rector Street.