Downtown Electeds: Keep 9/11 Memorial Plaza Open Later

Jul. 16, 2014

Earlier this month a Community Board 1 committee expressed concerns about a lack of pedestrian access to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza after closing hours at 9 p.m. As a result, four local elected officials – Council Member Margaret Chin, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Congressman Jerrold Nadler – wrote a letter to Memorial president Joe Daniels requesting longer operating hours. The full text is below.

Dear Mr. Daniels,

We write to you regarding some community concerns that have arisen over the current public operating hours of the 9/11 Memorial plaza, and to respectfully request that you begin to work with us as soon as possible to consider extended operating hours for the plaza that will better balance your concerns and those of the community.

The Memorial plaza, which is currently open from 7:30am to 9pm each day, is a deeply important part of our Lower Manhattan community. We applaud you and your staff for the passionate work you have done in maintaining the Memorial and successfully opening the 9/11 Museum.

Based on a resolution unanimously passed by the Community Board 1 Planning Committee and comments from local residents, there are two primary concerns with the fact that the Memorial plaza is not open to the public later than 9 p.m. or earlier than 7:30 a.m.

The first concern raised by the community board’s resolution relates to the overall pedestrian flow and connectivity of the area’s vibrant residential and business community. Improving pedestrian connectivity in and around the World Trade Center site was a major objective of the community during the post-9/11 planning process. The Memorial plaza is such a large site — approximately eight acres, or equivalent to six city blocks — that its closure can impact the ability of pedestrians to easily navigate the area, whether they are New Yorkers walking to work in the morning or home at night, or tourists who may be unfamiliar with the layout of Lower Manhattan.

The community board also points out that, currently, all after-hours pedestrian flow around the Memorial plaza is funneled along a narrow, 25-foot-wide portion of Liberty Street. In addition, the sidewalk which runs along the western side of the plaza is currently closed due to construction on Route 9A.

When the plaza is closed, these factors impede overall connectivity, as noted by Community Board 1. As part of the long-term revitalization and continued growth of our community, we are always committed to finding ways to create smoother pedestrian flow within this dense neighborhood.

The second concern relates to the ability of all members of the public — particularly Lower Manhattan residents or 9/11 families — to experience the Memorial plaza during hours that are more peaceful and less crowded. We are pleased that the plaza attracts a large volume of foot traffic, and that the Museum has had such a successful opening. However, we also feel it is important to make the plaza is open to those who wish to visit and reflect during those early morning or late evening hours.

We fully understand and appreciate the corresponding concerns you have regarding safety and security at the site during the times at which it is currently closed to the public. We are also encouraged by your recent statements expressing a willingness to consider extended public opening hours on the Memorial plaza in the future.

If you are open to scheduling a meeting to discuss these concerns, please contact any one of our offices. We thank you for considering this important issue, and we look forward to discussing with you all the possibilities of extending the Memorial plaza hours.


Margaret S. Chin Daniel Squadron
Council Member, District 1 State Senator, District 26
Sheldon Silver Jerrold Nadler
Assembly Speaker, District 65 U.S. Congressman, District 10