Making My Way to The Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower, New York City
Freedom Tower, Copyright © Jack Aiello 2013
I haven't visited the World Trade Center in what seems like ages. Having lived through September 11, I mourned and paid my respects privately with no true desire to visit the physical site. During a recent period of accelerated construction of the area, I still felt no need to go down there. Moreover, I couldn't bear those "TV Specials" that would supposedly honor the 9/11 anniversary by rebroadcasting the disturbing and graphic sequence of events from that day. As such, I never felt ready to be even within that vicinity.

About two months ago, I was commissioned to photograph the Freedom Tower, and so off I went for the first time in almost 13 years. For the most part, things are looking back to normal. People are going about their day and tourists are snapping photos. Though you can visit the Memorial site, it's still blocked off from view and there's still major construction at every turn of the corner. But once I followed the maze to the Memorial and saw the North and South pools where the Twin Towers once stood, I felt a drop in my gut. The optimism was definitely tempered with a sense of transformation, a look to the new but always with an eye toward a remembrance of what happened at this very site.

No matter how revitalized the area might appear to be, those two empty cascading pools -- at once beautiful and haunting -- remind the visitor that something sorrowful and tragic happened here. The new Freedom Tower in its final phase of construction, while not as imposing as its predecessors, is still a lovely, and very photogenic piece of architecture.

The new World Trade Center offers a balanced sense of optimism with the new construction of the Freedom Tower and the Calatrava Path Station. Tourists will always pose and smile alongside the usual landmarks, a testament to the triumph of American resiliency and pragmatism. But the stone gray pools whose dimensions carve an area below street level will inform you differently. There's something sad, yet meditative in the way water plummets into that small square positioned concentrically into the larger square footprint that make up the North and South towers. It suggests both an infinity and finality of things. Those names etched in bold around the perimeter, not to mention the no-holds barred Museum opening later next year, will always serve as reminders that New York and America were forever changed.

Freedom Tower New York City
Freedom Tower, Copyright © Jack Aiello 2013
For more images of the Freedom Tower, check out my site at

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