Video: Meet The Man Who Works Every Night To Keep The 9/11 Memorial Pools Spotless

09/10/2021 in
Video: Meet The Man Who Works Every Night To Keep The 9/11 Memorial Pools Spotless

The 9/11 Memorial was dedicated 10 years ago, and even if you still can’t bring yourself to go inside, you’ve probably at least seen the reflecting pools. The pools mark the footprint of the towers with a sense of inverse space: each is nearly an acre in size, filling the footprints of the North and South Towers with the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. Where the skyscrapers once started their ascent into the sky, water plunges 30 feet into a square basin, then drops another 20 feet into a center void.

The design, by Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, is called “Reflecting Absence.” All told, it’s a lot of water. And someone has to keep it clean, or else the droves of visitors each year couldn’t do much reflecting. Enter: James Maroon, pool cleaner for the 9/11 Memorial. In this compelling video for Time Magazine, documentary filmmaker Josh Charow and Downtown Alliance Explorer In Chief Josh Katz visited Maroon on a recent midnight-to-8 a.m. shift and talked to him about what it’s like to climb into a pair of waders, drag out the vacuum and push a broom across the surface of the pools five nights a week. 

Maroon’s been around the site his whole life. His father worked in and around the Towers; on September 11 itself, Maroon was working at the Mercantile Exchange building when the planes hit. “I spent most of my life down here,” Maroon says in the video. “This is a great opportunity to try to give back.” 

Watch the video to see what it takes to keep the reflecting pools clean every night, and what it’s like to see the sun rise over the historic memorial every morning.  

It may be “bad history,” Maroon says, “but we’re trying to make it better every day here.” 

screenshots via Time

Tags: 9/11 memorial and museum, james maroon

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