More than a dozen years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a subterranean museum commemorating the nearly 3,000 people who died in New York, northern Virginia, and Pennsylvania has opened at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. Called “a sacred place of healing and of hope” by President Obama, the National September 11 Memorial Museum is situated directly below ground zero, with its main galleries sitting right on bedrock, seven stories below street level. The descent, via two switchback ramps, leads to a cavernous hall where an exposed slurry wall serves as backdrop to the Last Column, a soaring steel beam that was once part of the South Tower. Other exhibits, such as the scorched and battered remains of a fire truck and ambulance, are equally as monumental, but it’s the intimate artifacts donated by the families of those who perished—photos, wallets, letters, victims’ last voice mails—that offer the most humbling, heartbreaking, and heroic memories of that day. —Gabrielle Lipton
This article originally appeared in the June/July 2014 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Under Ground Zero”).