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The inspiring story of the Survivor Tree at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

The Survivor Tree emerged as a beacon of hope on ground zero after the devastating terrorist attacks on 9/11. Keep reading to find out about the history, the symbolism, and the seeding program of the Survivor Tree.

What is the Survivor Tree?

The Survivor Tree

A Callery pear tree that withstood the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, came to be known as the "Survivor Tree." It had survived, but when the eight-foot-tall (2.4-meter) tree was found almost a month later, it was seriously damaged with split roots and broken, charred limbs. After being taken out of the debris at Ground Zero, the tree was given over to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

The tree, which was 30 feet (9.1 meters) tall at the time, was brought back to where the World Trade Center used to be in December 2010 after being rehabilitated in the Bronx. Today, it stands tall at the 9/11 Memorial Site, serving as a reminder of the past and bringing hope and resilience to all.

Where is the Survivor Tree?

The Survivor Tree is firmly planted outside the 9/11 Museum next to the South Pool in the Memorial site. You can see the tree by buying tickets to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial or just visit the outdoor memorial which is open to the public for free. To get to the museum, you can take a taxi to West Street or Liberty Street and walk from there. You could also take the subway (R train to Rector Street or Cortlandt Street, E Train to the World Trade Center, A, C, 1, 2, or 3 to Chambers Street) or a bus (M55 Southbound, M55 Northbound or M22 Southbound).

A brief history of the Survivor Tree

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, also called the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, honors the victims of the 11 September attacks of 2001. The World Trade Center site, where the Twin Towers formerly stood before they were decimated in the September 11 attacks, is where the memorial is situated. A lone survivor from the 9/11 attacks was discovered in the wreckage about a month later. The Survivor Tree, which was first planted in the 1970s at the site of the World Trade Center, has been giving people shade and giving wildlife a place to live for decades. 

However, when it was found amid the rubble, it was reduced to a few leaves sprouting from a solitary branch, with shattered and scorched boughs and severed roots. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation took up the tree's care and restored it to health in Van Cortlandt Park. The tree was moved to the 9/11 Memorial site in 2010.  


The Survivor Tree - Symbolism

Defying all odds, the Survivor Tree flourished in the spring of 2002, and a dove built a nest in the branches. It returned home following nine years of care in the Bronx, after surviving a terrorist attack and uprooting caused by lighting. It is planted at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, where it flourishes in a somber environment that is alive with memories. A powerful symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity, it provides hope and embodies the strong and resilient American spirit.

The Survivor Tree Seedling Program

A person planting a sapling

Launched on 11 September 2013, the Survivor Tree seedling initiative was started in collaboration with John Bowne High School in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens and Bartlett Tree Experts of Stamford, Connecticut to spread the message of hope, survival, and regrowth. Three communities who have experienced tragedies recently received saplings from the Survivor Tree every year from the 9/11 Memorial since it was first launched.

Can I visit the Survivor Tree?

If you are visiting NYC, make sure to visit the Survivor Tree which symbolizes hope, strength, and survival. You can access the tree from the outdoor Memorial Site and leave tributes like flowers, letters, etc. To learn more about the Tree, go on a guided tour of the 9/11 Museum, and learn about the history of the Tree and everything it represents. 

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Frequently asked questions about the Survivor Tree at the 9/11 Museum

What is the Survivor Tree?

The Survivor Tree is the single Callery pear tree that survived the 9/11 attacks.

How did the tree survive the 9/11 attacks?

A month after some of the rubble from the Twin Towers was cleared, the severely damaged but barely alive tree was found in the ground. Though it was not expected to survive, it was still replanted in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, where it was nurtured back to life.

What does the Survivor Tree symbolize?

The Survivor Tree symbolizes resilience, survival, and rebirth.

Is the Survivor Tree still alive?

Yes, the Survivor Tree is still alive and flourishing.

How was the Survivor Tree preserved and replanted?

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation relocated the tree to the Arthur Ross Nursery in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, in November 2001 so that it could receive care. On 11 November 2001, it was transplanted in the Bronx.

Is the Survivor Tree the only tree that survived the 9/11 attacks?

Yes, the Survivor Tree is the only tree that survived the 9/11 attacks.

How is the Survivor Tree cared for today?

The Survivor Tree is cared for by a non-profit organization that raises funds and runs the 9/11 Museum and Memorial.

Are there any commemorative events related to the Survivor Tree?

There is a seedling program that began in 2013 to spread hope in communities that had suffered from tragedies. This is also another way of surviving in difficult times.

Can visitors leave tributes at the Survivor Tree?

Yes, you can leave tributes at the Survivor Tree.

Can I get a memento related to the Survivor Tree?

Yes, you can get a memento related to the Survivor Tree at the museum’s store.