Visitor passes to the opening days of the official 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero sold out hours after becoming available online Monday.
By the afternoon, more than 23,140 free passes were reserved through the 9/11 Memorial website, a spokesman said. All times for Sept. 12-14 – the first three days the memorial will be open to the public – were booked, according to the website.
The memorial can accommodate about 1,500 ticket holders each hour.
Family members of 9/11 victims said they were touched by the immense draw the memorial is expected to receive on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
“I think it’s wonderful that after we promised 10 years ago to never forget, people haven’t,” said FDNY Battalion Chief Joe Downey, who lost his father, a FDNY deputy chief, on 9/11.
“This is going to be a large attraction pulling people to Lower Manhattan,” said Jim Riches, a retired FDNY deputy chief who lost his firefighter son during the attack.
Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said that they expect most people to visit the memorial midday and on weekends. “We’ll be able to handle whatever increased volume that we see,” he said.
He declined to talk about increases in Port Authority police presence.
The NYPD plans to ramp up security at the 16-acre World Trade Center site in time for the memorial opening, with 200 cops stationed there initially.