DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" ""> Oklahoma City National Memorial - Frequently Asked Questions (U.S. National Park Service)
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Oklahoma City National Memorial
Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is the significance between the 9:01 Gate and the 9:03 Gate?
The Gates of Times forever frame the moment of destruction which was at 9:02 a.m. The 9:01 gate is a symbolic reference that represents the last moment of innocence for our nation in regards to domestic terrorism and of those affected by the bombing. The 9:03 gate is a symbolic reference that represents the first moment into the aftermath. 9:02 is the moment where those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever are represented.

2. Why are there two walls for each of the Gates of Time?
The Gates represent the moment before and after the bombing. Within each gate, is represented the moment before, or after. The gates, one to the east and one to the west, where the sun rises and sets, are both a reference to time, and provide a transition from the “outside” to what the designers call the “sacred room”, a place changed forever and where we come to remember.

3. Where was the building actually located?
The Murrah Federal Building was located just south of the Reflecting Pool where the grass lawn begins, where the Field of Empty Chairs now stands. The building also stretched from the remaining walls in the east corner to the western edge of the Memorial. The building was approximately 75 feet wide, 318 feet long and nine stories tall. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building occupied the block in downtown OKC bordered by NW 4th and 5th Streets between Robinson and Harvey Avenues.

4. Is there anything that remains of the building?
Yes, the east and south walls along the footprint contain areas of original Murrah Building material. The east wall is the only remaining wall that is still intact from the Murrah building. The south perimeter wall contains portions of the original wall, but is mostly reinforced concrete for the plaza. Anytime you see the jagged edges you are looking parts of the original building.

5. Why wasn’t the destroyed building left standing?
The building was destroyed so badly that it was structurally unsafe to where it had to be shored up and stabilized before rescue and recovery efforts could progress. It was also an extreme biohazard due to the nature and power of the explosion. The main reason is that three bodies were trapped under a main beam, and when efforts were made to recover these bodies, the building shifted and the operation ceased. The building was imploded on May 23, 1995 to recover these bodies, which completed the recovery effort.

6. Where was the front of the building?
The bombed out portion of the building faced north and was located just south of the Reflecting Pool where the grass edge starts. This side of the building was considered the business entrance into the building, with the physical address being on Fifth Street.  The plaza where the four flagpoles are located near the glass wall overlooking the Memorial was the South entrance in to the second floor of the Murrah Federal Building.

7. Which side of the building was bombed?
The side facing north along the front edge of grass, parallel to what used to be Fifth Street, now the Reflecting Pool.

8. Why are the chairs arranged the way they are and what do they represent?
The chairs have been arranged in nine rows, which represent the nine floors of the Murrah Building. Each individual’s chair was placed on the row (or the floor) they worked on or were visiting when the bomb went off. The chairs were grouped by agency and in alphabetical order within that agency whether the person was employed in that agency or visiting. The five chairs located in the western most column represents the five people killed who were not in the Murrah Building at the time of the bombing. Two were in the Oklahoma Water Resources Building, one person was in the Athenian Building, one person was outside the building near the blast and the fifth chair represents the nurse who lost her life in the rescue efforts. Both the Water Resources Board building and the Athenian Building were so heavily damaged they had to be torn down.

The chairs have also been arranged to abstractly reflect the outline of the blast cavity of the Murrah Building with the heaviest concentration reflecting the heaviest damage to the building.

9. Where were the persons who were killed outside of the Murrah Building located?
Two were in the Oklahoma Water Resources Building, one person was in the Athenian Building, one person was outside the building near the blast and the fifth chair represents the nurse who lost her life in the rescue efforts.

10.  Are there any plans to put concrete paths between the chairs?
It is the desire of the family members to have a field of empty chairs free of any concrete or stones that would resemble the building that once stood on that same ground.

11.  What time are the chair lights coming on tonight?
The chair lights are on a photocell timer. Therefore, depending on how dark it is outside, determines the time the lights come on. In the winter, it can sometimes be as early as 4:30 p.m. and in the summer as late as 9:00 p.m.

12.  Where was the truck parked?
The truck was parked along NW 5th Street between the building and the street in a loading zone located in front of the building’s north entrance. If you count across four Loblolly Pine trees from the 9:01 Gate you will be looking at the approximate area where the truck was parked.

13.  Where was the street?
The Reflecting Pool is now located where NW Fifth Street once was located. The Reflecting Pool mediates the original width of the street, but the elevation has been lowered on the east end and raised on the west end to create the level area for the pool. It is easy to understand this when one looks through the Gates of Time to see where NW Fifth still runs in both directions.

14.  How does the pool work?
The pool is ¾ of an inch deep, fed by a flow of water from four Olympic size pumps beneath the stairs in the 9:01 Gate. The water flows from a pipe beneath the center of the pool and rises under pressure through four sections of the black granite grid along the length of the surface, where the seams between the stones are unsealed. After passing over the edge, a four and a half foot square culvert directs the flow back to the pump room, re-circulating 70,000 gallons of water every 25 minutes.

15.  Where does the water enter the reflection pool?
The method and location the water enters the reflection pool is designed to be a mystery, and represents the mysteries of life.

The water enters the pool in four locations throughout the center and flows equally to all sides. The best way to identify the location the water enters the pool is to look for areas the grout is missing. The water is filtered, chemically treated, and then pumped back into the reflection pool. The surface of the pool (3/4” deep) contains about 7,800 gallons of water and the pumping and filtration portion of the pool contains another 70,000 gallons for a total of 77,800 gallons of water that re-circulates approximately every 22 minutes.

16.  What does the pool represent symbolically?
We see ourselves in this place—the face of someone changed forever by what happened here. The sound of the water is soothing, calming us, and allowing us to reflect. It also holds a position, from a bird’s eye view, of the place where 5th Street sloped upward to the East, in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

17.  Does the pool freeze in winter?
Yes. It has not frozen so much to date that the water has completely stopped, however.

18.  What was located across 5th Street where the Survivor Tree stands?
The area around the Survivor Tree was a parking lot at the time of the bombing. As you can imagine, the spaces around the Survivor Tree were popular because they provided shade during the hot summer days in Oklahoma. When the bomb went off most of the cars in the lot were destroyed, the south facing side of the tree was totally imbedded with debris, the leaves were blown off, and the tree was burned and blackened. Just a short time later, the tree started to come back, so it has come to represent the survivors and the deeply rooted faith that we have as a human resilience to overcome evil by doing good.

19.  Was the Survivor Tree already leaning?
Yes, the bomb did not cause the leaning.

20.  What is the story on the “Team 5” message?
Oklahoma Bomb Disposal Unit Team Five wrote this message as they turned to assist with the rescue. In the aftermath, many rescuers left messages like this.

21.  What kinds of trees are planted around the Survivor Tree?
All of the trees around the Survivor Tree are fruit or flower-bearing trees that represent the fruits bore by the efforts of the rescue workers. The trees immediately surrounding the Survivor Tree are the Oklahoma Redbud and represent the first responders to the scene. The remaining trees are Chinese Pistache and Amur Maple that represent the nationwide effort.

22.  What kind of plants are planted on the grounds?
Flowers are planted accordingly to their appropriate season and on optimum performance in Oklahoma City’s climate. The Field of Empty Chairs is lined by Blue Rug Junipers and ivy. The bed adjacent to the Journal Record Building includes annuals, perennials and native grasses. All others change with season.

23.  Where was the grove of trees sent from Iowa planted?
This memorial is called the Heartland Memorial Grove and is located on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capital, between the Conner and Hodges Buildings. It is located on the capitol’s north lawn, north of NW 23rd Street, east of Lincoln Boulevard. The Heartland Memorial Grove was a gift from the people of Iowa. There are 168 trees, 19 of which are smaller for the children. The larger trees are Littleleaf Lindens and 149 of them provide a protective ring around the 19 smaller Prairiefire Crabapples. There are benches hewn from salvaged Murrah granite and a burial marker to denote the location of the burial of the common tissue within the grove.

24. What do the terraces down from the promontory represent?
The terraces are primarily in place to mediate the height difference required after the street level was dropped to create the level area for the Reflecting Pool. Ironically, the grass terraces are all 9’2” wide, which is symbolic of the time the bomb went off (9:02 AM). The terraces provide a park like setting that can be used by people to sit or as an amphitheater.

25. Were there any other buildings on the Memorial grounds which are now gone?
Yes, the Oklahoma Water Resources Building stood on the corner of NW 5th and Harvey, where the Rescuer’s Orchard now stand. The Athenian Building was located where the Serpentine Path is now located and the printing pad for the Journal Record Building stood where the Children’s Area is located today.

26. Were any of the buildings in the area damaged?
The bomb damaged 312 buildings in Oklahoma City. Thirty buildings were heavily damaged and approximately 16 have since been torn down. Twenty blocks of downtown OKC had to be cordoned off due to the bomb’s extent.

27. What is the building behind the Survivor Tree and did it receive any damage?
The building behind the Survivor Tree was the Journal Record Building at the time of the bombing. The journal Record is a daily business newspaper in Oklahoma City. The building was fully occupied at the time of the bombing and received extensive damage. The roof was blown off, several floors collapsed, and glass permeated the entire structure. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, although there were several critical injuries.

The south façade of the building will remain to show visitors the impact and raw power of the blast. The windows are blackened with bricks or tint to replicate missing, bombed out windows and the jagged brick edge at the top of the building shows when the roof broke away and slid to the ground below.

28.  Will the Journal Record Building be torn down?
The Journal Record Building has been restored to house the new Memorial Museum and Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum is a world-class museum that tells the story of what happened here on April 19, 1995 and its aftermath.

29.  Where was the YMCA Building located?
It stood on the block across the street to the east of the Survivor Tree, approximately where the paid parking lot is next to Markie’s Cafe. Much of the remains of the building are buried beneath the lot.

30.  What is the gray building on 5th and Harvey Streets?
It is the Regency Tower, which is an apartment community. The windows were blown out of this building and there were several injuries, but no fatalities. The people were displaced from the Regency Tower for approximately eight months after the bombing. 462 people lived in the building at the time of the bombing.

31.  Where can I get a brochure?
Brochures can be obtained at the east and west end of the Murrah Building footprint near the Loblolly Pine trees, in the children’s area near the restrooms, or just north of the Survivor Tree near the flowers. Look for a brown metal post that sticks out of the ground. Flip up the lid and help yourself.

32.  Where can I obtain a list of the bombing victims?
Park Rangers usually carry chair location lists; however, they are also available at the front desk of the Memorial Store in the Memorial Museum.

33.  Where is the fence?
The family members, survivors and rescue workers moved two hundred ten feet of the original fence on October 25, 1998, to make way for the Memorial construction. Its current location along Harvey Street was chosen by the designers for the permanent location to sit symbolically in the healing side of the Memorial at the 9:03 gate.

34.  How often are the items collected off the fence and chairs?
Items on the fence remain there a minimum of 30 days, unless it is an item left by a family member, in which they are left indefinitely, or until the family member requests for the item to be taken off. Items on the chairs remain there for at least 24 hours, except on April 19th when the items are left on the chairs for 72 hours. All items collected from the fence and chairs except live plants or items that have organic materials, are cleaned, cataloged and used in some way that fits within the mission of the Memorial.

35.  Who designed and built this Memorial?
The OUTDOOR SYMBOLIC MEMORIAL was designed by the Butzer design Partnership, which consists of the husband and wife team, Torrey and Hans Butzer and their colleague, Sven Berg. Although, they were based in Germany at the time of the design Competition, Torrey was born in Nowata, Oklahoma and now reside here in Oklahoma. She and Hans received their architectural degrees at the University of Texas-Austin and have served as consultants to the Memorial staff and volunteers. The Memorial was built by a variety of contractors including Lippert Brothers Construction.

36.  How much did it cost to build this Memorial?
The total cost for the Memorial was $29.1 million. 10 million for the OUTDOOR SYMBOLIC MEMORIAL, 7 million for the Memorial Museum, 5 million for the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism and the rest for various administration costs.

37.  Where can I leave a donation?
There are three locations within the Memorial that donations can be left.

  1. Next to the flowers near the First Amendment area (northeast entryway to the site)
  2. Near the restroom entrance
  3. Next to the Survivor Tree

38. How many people visited the Memorial last year?
Visitation to the Memorial in Fiscal Year 2005 (October 1, 2004-September 30, 2005) was 365,537.

39.  What is the status of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols?
Timothy McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001. Terry Nichols has been sentenced to life in prison without parole and is serving his sentence in the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

40.  What was the bomb made of?
The bomb weighed about 4800 pounds and was made of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

41.  What does the statue across Harvey Street represent?
This statue representing Jesus weeping and placing his back to violence. It was built by the Catholic Church in place of the Rectory lost during the bombing. There are shadow boxes in the granite wall that represent the 171 lives lost (168 plus 3 unborn children). If you see two boxes joined, they represent a husband and wife or a mother and child that were both killed. There were also three unborn children killed, not identified in the Memorial’s count of 168, but they are listed on their mother’s chairs below their mothers names.

42. Who was Alfred P. Murrah?
In 1936, at the age of 32, Alfred Paul Murrah became the youngest man in history to be appointed U. S. District Judge in the judicial system. In 1950, Judge Murrah was elevated to the 10th circuit Court of Appeals and later became its Chief Judge. He was known as the Judge’s Judge for his work to advance the cause of justice. Judge Murrah died in 1975 at the age of 71. In 1977, the new federal building in Oklahoma City was named in honor of him.

43.  Where is the statue of the fireman holding Bailey Almon?
A statue is located in Chapter 6 of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum that is an abstract representation of firefighter Chris Fields carrying Bailey Almon. It is a marble statue titled “Rescue”.

44.  How were the children’s letters of encouragement transferred onto tiles?
These tiles were all hand made by children in a project started in New York for children to reach out to the children affected by the bombing in Oklahoma City. The idea was passed on to other schools until over 5000 tiles were received, which are now all being stored or used by the Oklahoma City National Memorial and will have the opportunity to be used for educational purposes.

45.  Is there a book that shows all of the memorial designs submitted?
There is not currently a single book that contains all of the Symbolic Memorial designs. However, all 624 original design boards are stored in the Memorial’s Archives.

46.  Were the churches on either side of the Memorial damaged badly?
Yes. 347 buildings were damaged and 16 were destroyed. The churches both lost stained-glass windows and sustained extreme structural damage. It took many months for the restoration efforts to allow the churches to resume services.

47.  What happened to the orphaned children?
There were 30 children orphaned as a result of the bombing and their families are currently raising all of the children. No orphaned children entered the state foster care system.

48.  What are the three flags located on the plaza level and in the children’s area?
The American Flag, Oklahoma State Flag, and the City of Oklahoma City Flag and represent the three levels of government coming together to help with the rescue and recovery and to support the completion of the Memorial. The taller flagpole, flying the American Flag, on the plaza level is the original Murrah Building flagpole.

49.  Is the parking garage still in use?
Yes, the parking garage is back in use, but no longer has any elevator service, is no longer open to the public, and is tightly guarded.

50.  Why is the Memorial Museum only open half a day on Sunday?
Due to the spiritual nature of the Memorial, it was decided in the beginning to honor the day and allow people to do the same.

51.  Where is the new federal building? What is the Federal Campus?
The site of the new federal building is just northwest of the Children’s Area, between NW 6th and 8th Streets and Harvey and Hudson Avenues.

52. Is this a Federal or State designated park?
The Oklahoma City National Memorial is an affiliated site of the National Park System, and is privately owned and administered by the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation. The National Park Service provides the interpretive services on the OUTDOOR SYMBOLIC MEMORIAL through a cooperative agreement with the Foundation.

53.  Why can’t I walk my dog in here?
This area is closed to pets, at the request of, and out of respect for, the family members of those who were killed by, and survivors of, the bombing. This soil is consecrated with their blood.

54.  Why can’t I ride my bicycle through here?
It is not safe and this area is not set aside for recreation. Memorials are set-a-side for those who came here to remember.

55.  Who gets to go out to the chairs? How about the general public?
The Chairs are accessible to visitors at all times. The chains are removed in selected locations to allow visitor access and to control the wear and tear on the grass.

Visitor and Resource Protection rangers, 2005  

Did You Know?
In Big Bend's first year of operation as a national park (1944), the operating budget of the park totalled $15,000. Over sixty years later, as park infrastructure and staffing has grown, so too has the budget; the operating budget for fiscal year 2005 totaled $5,492,000.

Last Updated: August 28, 2008 at 17:36 EST