"It's very moving," says Fousseyni Diarra, 28, a Vancouver, B.C., construction worker, as he stands on the platform looking west on Jan. 3. "You wonder what can be going through their minds as they pull people out."
"I've been depressed ever since it happened," says Corinne Castle, 59, who made the trip from her home in Trumbull, Conn., with one of her 11 grandchildren. "I thought," she explains, "it would bring closure to what I was feeling."
While waiting in line for as long as three hours, visitors pondered tributes left behind by victims' relatives. Evelyn Becker, 53, of Queens, posted a photo of her late son-in-law Carl, a firefighter lost in the disaster. "I think of what he went through," says Becker. "I can't help but break down."
Construction crews work the equipment from noon until the platform closes at 8 p.m., and visitors arrive in a steady stream. "I can understand the curiosity," says firefighter Tim Klett, of Manhattan's Engine 69, who has been helping to clear the lower level of the former WTC. "It's part of history now."
"I came as a way to thank all the people who died and to be a part of this," says April Fondren, 19, an Atlanta waitress, writing a message at a makeshift memorial for the victims on Jan. 3. "I wanted to show I'm not scared of coming to New York and I'm not scared of terrorists."
"We thought that coming might help my daughter—she has not been sleeping or eating right," says Fran Heffran, 51, whose daughter Jillian, 21, was working as a paralegal blocks from the Twin Towers on Sept. 11 and saw both planes crash. "I didn't think it was going to be that bad."
Viewing the devastation for themselves moves many visitors, such as Sean Griffiths of Scottsdale, Ariz., to tears. "I came to see what I'm fighting for," says Marine Pvt. Robert Vlasaty (not pictured). "Now when I'm in a foxhole, I'll be thinking of all these people who went through this."
On Newsstands Now
- Brad's Devotion: The Inside Story
- Oklahoma Tornado: Heroic Rescues
- Michael Douglas on Catherine's Health
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine