Visitors to Ground Zero, starting Wednesday, will have a better view of ongoing construction of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum.
Instead of peeking through fencing, visitors to the 9/11 Memorial preview site at 20 Vesey St. will be able to watch a live Webcam of construction under way, see models of the new World Trade Center, and examine renderings of portions of the memorial and museum.
Visitors to the preview site also can buy books, DVDs and other memorabilia related to Sept. 11, 2001. Proceeds will support the $610-million museum and memorial.
The preview site is across Vesey Street from St. Paul's Chapel, the Episcopal church where many first responders, as well as others working on the gargantuan pile of trade center debris and volunteer relief workers, went for sanctuary and respite in the weeks and months after the terrorist attacks.
Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, said in a statement that the preview site will serve as an information hub, providing details about the memorial and museum and the reconstruction effort.
"We look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world," he said.
Video from the live Webcam will be displayed on large screens at the preview site. At kiosks, visitors can print copies of the images.
An on-site recording booth will allow visitors to share stories related to the 2001 terror attacks. A bank of the recordings will become a permanent part of the museum for use in the introductory exhibition.
The introductory exhibition - planned for 2012 - will include a "soundscape of people" speaking in multiple languages about their experience during the attacks, museum officials said.
The preview site, which has about 2,000 square feet of public space, cost $600,000 to build. It was partially funded by a $1-million donation from the Starr International Foundation, a charitable organization based in Switzerland, officials said.
The preview site will be open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Port Authority, which is building the memorial and museum, said the memorial will be open to the public on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
At that time, portions of the memorial plaza still will be under construction. However, the "Reflecting Absence" project - two large pools placed within the footprints of the fallen towers, with cascading waterfalls - will be complete then, officials said.
Inscribed around the edges of the pools will be the names of the 2,976 people who died from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the six people killed in the Feb. 26, 1993, terrorist bombing of the trade center.
The museum is slated for a 2012 opening, museum officials said.