One of the Financial District’s most important sights, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is understandably also one of its most popular. In high season, the roped switchbacks in front of the museum’s ticket office and entrance fill with people. There’s something to be said for seeing this institution while surrounded by others; it memorializes a shared national trauma. But a large crowd starts to diminish the experience.
In order to have a quiet, contemplative visit in this sacred-feeling space, we booked a guided “Early Access” tour at 8 a.m., an hour before the museum’s official opening time. It cost more than the usual admission, $70 per person instead of $17 to $29, but it was well worth it.
Only a dozen of us accompanied our guide, Gabi, who provided the group with headsets. They allowed us freedom of movement and her to speak at a normal volume. The tour was excellent. She talked to us in an even tone with no dramatics, letting the horrifying events of the day speak for themselves. I felt all the more moved as she related the unembellished facts.