Secret Mourning Room For 9/11 Victims Open To Public After 13 Years

Sameera Ehteram
The private sanctuary for the 9/11 families, known as the Family Room, opens its doors to the public for the first time in 13 years.

Located on the 20th floor of One Liberty Plaza, the Family Room, set up by the New York State Museum, has been a private sanctuary of memories – a place where loved ones of 9/11 victims came to mourn and find solace for the past 13 years.

The New York State Museum’s website tells how it came about: “Immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks, an outdoor viewing platform was created overlooking the World Trade Center site where families could visit to grieve and observe the recovery efforts. Tributes, photographs and messages of love from around the world adorned the platform.”

“As winter approached, family members requested a private, indoor space. Recognizing the need for a place of quiet reflection, space was donated by Brookfield Properties on the 20th floor of One Liberty Plaza overlooking the World Trade Center site. The tributes and photographs from the outdoor viewing platform were carefully removed and re-installed in what became known as the Family Room.”

Earlier this year, the remains of the victims were moved to a repository in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Several panels from One Liberty Plaza were transferred to the new Museum Family Room and the remaining materials were donated to the New York State Museum for preservation and for the public to experience firsthand.

Commemorating the tragic incidents of Sept. 11, 2001, the memorial room is now open to public.

So far the room served as strictly a secret memorial for families of the victims who could only gain access to the room by showing a medical examiner's family identification card.

"The public was never allowed in," says Mark A. Schaming director of the New York State Museum. "The room wasn't photographed, and it was just a very private and reverential place where they could go and reflect on the people who were killed."

The families had a hard time allowing public to view what was extremely personal and painful for them, but they finally did.

"I think it was the right decision," says Anthoula Katsimatides, sister of one of the 9/11 victims. "...I feel it's time for people to see our pain, our anguish, our love and our strength, to experience all that we felt and feel about our loved ones, in its purest and most uninhibited form."