The 9/11 Memorial: Past, Present, and Future is an iPad app that serves to commemorate the events of that historic and tragic day and offer a unique look at the history and the planned future for the 9/11 Memorial that opens next month.
The 9/11 Memorial will be dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and will open to the public on the day after, September 12, 2011.
This app, just as the title suggests, offers a superb look at the past, present, and future of what seems destined to become an important national landmark in the US. It includes never-seen-before videos, photographs, interviews and text that document the Memorial. The app is an iPad exclusive – and the publisher, Steve Rosenbaum, calls it ‘history in your hands’. It will be released in the App Store on September 1st and will be free for 11 days – 9/1 to 9/11.
I was far away from the events of 9/11, here in Texas – but like so many others I watched the events unfold from early that morning and have vivid memories of the day. So when I was offered a chance to install a pre-release copy of this app it took me about 2 seconds to say yes. I’ve been reading and browsing the app for the last couple of weeks and as usual I’ve got some thoughts to share …
Steve Rosenbaum, the creator of the app, is a writer and producer. His Wikipedia page lists some of his past efforts related to 9/11:
Rosenbaum directed the documentary feature 7 Days In September, a look at 9/11 and the week after. Rosenbaum also created the CameraPlanet 9/11 Archive,  an archive of footage from September 11 and its aftermath. Rosenbaum has received 2 Emmy Awards, 6 New York Festival’s World Medals, 4 CINE Golden Eagles, and 6 Telly Awards. CameraPlanet holds a large archive of videos from 9/11, mainly consisting of home videos taken by professionals and amateurs in September 2001.
As mentioned above, the app will be released in the App Store this Thursday, September 1, and will be free for the first 11 days of September. After those first 11 days it will be priced at $9.99.
The app is divided into four main sections, all just a tap away on the main screen – they are The Past, The Present, The Future, and Galleries.
The Past has three sub-sections: Construction of the Twin Towers, Daily Life at the WTC, and The Day of 9/11.
The Present has these sub-sections: The Architect, Renderings, Engineering, Construction, The Parapet, The Pools, The Plaza, The Window, The Artifacts.
The section on The Future offers text, photos, and videos that focus on the mission of the Memorial Museum and the entire site. One key part of that is of course commemorating the tragic events of that day and those who lost their lives, but a lot of emphasis is also placed on it being a ‘living museum’ that demonstrates the consequences of terrorism.
… a place that anchors the story in the facts and remains open to the emerging conversation and world events that 9/11 clearly has ties to.
Finally, the Galleries section is full of superb photographs that document the process of putting together the memorial. There’s a Tributes sub-section that is full of heart-rending tribute videos on the events of 9/11.
The app also offers links off its home screen to the www.911memorial.org site – where you can see lots of good information on visiting the memorial and donating to it if you wish.
The section on the construction of the towers includes a good range of videos about how the towers were built – including one on the radical new structural design used in building them. There’s some great footage of workers building the towers way up there in the sky, and a vintage clip of a TV ad announcing the opening of the World Trade Center’s observation deck – with an ‘On Top of the World’ theme.
In the Daily Life at the WTC there’s an excellent video of window washing one of the towers. The guy doing the window washing looks not the least bit nervous – just very happy with his job and the incredible views it offers.
And of course the section covering the day of 9/11 has some harrowing footage of the events of that morning.
In The Present section there’s a fascinating video all about the Parapet, a series of panels surrounding the memorial pools with the names of the victims inscribed in bronze. This is the part that I found compelling:
There is extraordinary care put into what architect Michael Arad calls ‘Meaningful Adjacencies’ that reflect where the victims were on 9/11 and relationships they shared with others who were lost that day.
In fact, names are carefully placed next to each other: firefighters with firefighters, cops with cops, all the members of each of the flights, first responders, friends, co-workers, each name is placed with meaning. Designers reached out to 1,800 requests from families of the almost 3,000 9/11 victims, and created an algorithm that let them be grouped by affinity.
In the Renderings section there are photos and videos offering views of all the different elements of the memorial. They’re impressive looking to say the least.
The Engineering section gives a great overview of the highlights of the memorial. There are interesting details in here on the grove of trees above the 9/11 Memorial Museum (which is actually 70 feet below street level), and the twin reflecting pools that are a major feature. They’re nearly an acre in size and include the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. These pools ‘sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood’.
Unfortunately, the videos in the app don’t support AirPlay video yet (perhaps the final release will fix this) – so you only get audio from them on an Apple TV.
It’s a shame that you can’t view the photos in the Galleries section in full screen.
The 9/11 Memorial: Past, Present, and Future is an impressive app. Anyone with even mild interest in the events of 9/11, the history of the Twin Towers, or the present and future vision of the 9/11 memorial will want to spend a lot of time with this app.
Because the app’s creator has been closely involved in documenting 9/11 for ten years, the range of content is excellent.
I could easily see this app ending up in US classrooms, as part of the materials to be used when covering 9/11 in history classes.
I’ll update this post with an App Store link for The 9/11 Memorial: Past, Present, and Future for iPad when it is released on Thursday. If you’re interested in picking this one up, look out for it on September 1 and remember it’s free from 9/1 to 9/11.