Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City; Washington D.C.; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum is holding the annual commemoration of the day in Lower Manhattan, at the 9/11 Memorial plaza at the World Trade Center, paying tribute to the 2,977 people who died at the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and on Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville, as well as the six people killed during the February 26, 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.

The ceremony, which is for family members of victims, begins at 8:46 a.m. with a moment of silence to note when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower. Family members will read the names of the victims, punctuated by five more moments of silence, marking when the South Tower was hit, when each tower fell, when the Pentagon was struck, and when Flight 93 crashed.

Elected officials and other dignitaries, such as President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden; New York Governor Kathy Hochul; and Mayor Bill de Blasio, will be in attendance.

A livestream of the ceremony can be seen at 911memorial.org/live.

8:46 a.m.         Citywide moment of silence (observance of time American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower)

(Houses of worship will toll their bells throughout the city)

Reading of names by family members begins

9:03 a.m.         Moment of silence (observance of time United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower)

Reading of names continues

9:37 a.m.         Moment of silence (observance of time American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon)

Reading of names continues

9:59 a.m.         Moment of silence (observance of time of the fall of the South Tower)

Reading of names continues

10:03 a.m.      Moment of silence (observance of time United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania)

Reading of names continues

10:28 a.m.       Moment of silence (observance of time of the fall of the North Tower)

Reading of names continues

Reading of names concludes

11:30 a.m.        Program concludes

A complete list of names of all 2,983 victims—from the 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on Flight 93; and the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing—that are inscribed on the Memorial can be found at 911memorial.org/names-memorial-0. (You can learn more about how the names are arranged and more about victim here at names.911memorial.org.) Of the 2,753 people killed in New York on 9/11, the remains of 1,106 have yet to be identified.

The 9/11 Memorial plaza will open to the public at 3 p.m.

If you are traveling in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, expect street closures and delays in your commute.

The blueish beams of light in the sky from lower manhattan, with the World Trade Center and other buildings in Manhattan, as seen at night

Testing the Tribute in Light on September 8, 2021

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Testing the Tribute in Light on September 8, 2021
Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

At dusk, the Tribute in Light will return, with the twin beams—made up of 88 7,000-watt xenon light bulbs placed in two 48-foot squares—reaching to the sky until sunrise. The installation, designed by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian Laverdiere, Paul Myoda and lighting designer Paul Marantz, was produced by the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time for the six-month anniversary of the attacks. Its powerful symbolism—the lights can be seen from 60 miles away—resonated so much that it's become a part of 9/11 reflections.

The World Trade Center Oculus, the $4 billion bird-like structure to the southeast of the 9/11 Memorial plaza, was situated with September 11th in mind: The Port Authority explained that the building, designed by Rafael Vinoly, "is in alignment with the sun’s solar angles on each September 11, from 8:46 am, when the first plane struck, until 10:28 am, when the second tower collapsed. Its central skylight fits this alignment and washes the Oculus floor with a beam of light."

The ribbed interior of the Oculus is seen with a beam of sunlight in the center skylight

A beam of light in the World Trade Center Oculus on September 11, 2019

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A beam of light in the World Trade Center Oculus on September 11, 2019
Craig Ruttle/AP/Shutterstock

On 9/11, the Cortlandt Street subway station was crushed by the fallen Twin Towers. "Massive building beams shot like spears through seven feet of earth, through the station’s brick and concrete ceiling, and into the track bed below," the NYC Transit Museum said. "Astonishingly, despite the unprecedented scope of the damage, no lives were lost anywhere in the subway system that day."

Scott Lynch / Gothamist

The station was rebuilt over 17 years and completed in 2018, and its walls have a text mosaic from artist Ann Hamilton, titled CHORUS, which takes words from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and phrases from the Declaration of Independence's preamble. (Here's a conversation between Hamilton, MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth, and 9/11 Memorial and Museum Chief Curator Jan Ramirez.)


WNYC will cover special live coverage, hosted by Brian Lehrer, of the ceremonies beginning at 8:35 a.m. Then, at 11 a.m., WNYC will air "Blindspot: The Road to 9/11," a two-hour radio documentary adapted from the nine-part podcast hosted by WNYC's Jim O Grady.

Classical music station WQXR also has special programming planned throughout the day on September 11. The program includes a segment on John Adams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning composition "On the Transmigration of Souls," performed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the New York Philharmonic.

You can also read WNYC/Gothamist's series, September 11 and NYPD: The Legacy. Dozens of journalists and engineers in the WNYC newsroom came together to produce this series for Gothamist and WNYC radio. The series explores how the terror attacks 20 years ago fundamentally changed the NYPD. The 20th anniversary comes amid another critical moment in U.S. history: a reckoning over race and policing, here in New York City and across the country.

Over the last two decades, the NYPD has undergone a dramatic transformation, growing in capacity, reach, and power. Those changes are evident today in virtually every aspect of policing in New York City—from the department’s enforcement around street protests, to its vast international network, to its presence on mass transit, to its all-round philosophy of public safety.

Day One: NYPD's history from founding to 9/11

Day Two: How NYPD's Powers Expanded After 9/11

Day Three: A Legacy of Police Surveillance (Part One and Part Two)

Day Four: See Something, Say Something

Day Five: America's Mayor and NYPD

Day Six: Living with Trauma: COVID-19 and 9/11; The Sacrifice of Survivors