In First, Memorial Will Be Open On Night of 9/11

NEW YORK (AP) -
The Tribute in Light intersect with still-under construction One World Trade Center as they rise behind the building in last year’s 9/11 commemoration. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
The Tribute in Light intersect with still-under construction One World Trade Center as they rise behind the building in last year’s 9/11 commemoration. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Sept. 11 memorial plaza will be open on the night of the attacks’ anniversary this year, the first time the general public will be able to visit ground zero on the commemoration date.

The plaza will be closed to the public during the remembrance ceremony and much of the rest of the day, but it will open from 6 p.m. to midnight for those who want to pay respects and view one of the most evocative observances — the twin beams called the Tribute in Light — from an especially “meaningful vantage point,” memorial President Joe Daniels said in an email Thursday to victims’ families.

A symbolic shift for a site that was inaccessible to the public for years after the attacks, the plan reflects its increasing openness as more gets rebuilt.

The night hours on Sept. 11 will provide visitors with a solemn setting for looking at the Tribute in Light, which first appeared on March 11, 2002, to mark the six months that had passed since the attacks. It has become a moving, quietly powerful element of the anniversaries since.

It shines from a roof near the trade center, traditionally from sunset to dawn. Formed from 88 powerful bulbs positioned into two squares that echo the fallen Twin Towers, the light memorial reaches four miles skyward in a $500,000-a-year project.