• View of the grounds

    Oklahoma City

    National Memorial Oklahoma

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, the moment healing began. 9:02 is the moment where those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever are represented.


2. Where was the building actually located?
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was located just south of the Reflecting Pool where the grass lawn of the Field of Empty Chairs now stands. The building stretched from the remaining walls in the east corner to the western edge of the Memorial. The nine story Murrah Federal Building occupied the block in downtown OKC bordered by NW 4th and 5th Streets between Robinson and Harvey Avenues.


3. Is there anything that remains of the building?
Yes, a portion of the north wall and the entire east wall of original Murrah Building remain. 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.


4. Why weren't the remains of the building left standing?
The building was damaged so badly that it had become a health and safety hazard. After the bombing, the building was shored up and stabilized before rescue and recovery efforts could progress. The building was imploded on May 23, 1995.


5. 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.


6. 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.


7. 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 represent the five people killed who were not in the Murrah Building at the time of the bombing. 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.


8. 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.

Both the Water Resources Board Building and the Athenian Building were so heavily damaged they had to be torn down.


9. What time are the chair lights coming on tonight?
At night, the chairs light up becoming, in the words of the Memorial's designers, 168 beacons of hope. The chair lights are on a photocell sensor and come on as it gets dark. In the winter, they sometimes illuminate as early as 4:30 p.m. and in the summer as late as 9:00 p.m.


10. 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.


11. 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.


12. How does the pool work?
The pool is ¾ of an inch deep and is 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.


13. 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.


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


15. 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, and it became a symbol of hope and resilience for this community and the nation and a testement to our deeply rooted faith.


16. Does the Survivor Tree lean because of the blast?
No, the Survivor Tree does not lean as a result of the blast. The lean is natural.


17. 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.


18. 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 of the efforts of the rescue workers' labor. 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 rescuers who came from across the nation.

19. Where was the grove of trees sent from Iowa planted?
On the north side of the capital building sets the Oklahoma City Memorial Tree Grove of 149 linden and 19 crabapple trees for the adults and children who lost their lives in the Oklahoma City bombing. Iowans used this as an opportunity to show their gratitude for the care and compassion shown by Oklahomans in their effort to assist the state of Iowa during the 1993 flood. To the northeast of the capital stands the Heartland Memorial Tree Grove for the fellow co-workers of the Department of Agriculture. The Bur Oak was chosen for the tenacity of the Oklahoma spirit, the redbud for life's renewal, and the whitebud for innocence lost. The trees are planted in the shape of a heart, the universal symbol of love, and surrounded by 77 native stones representing each of the Oklahoma counties.


20. 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.


21. 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.


22. Were any of the buildings in the area damaged?
The bomb damaged 347 buildings in the immediate area. 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.


23. What is the building to the north of the Survivor Tree and did it receive any damage?
The building to the north of the Survivor Tree was the Journal Record Building at the time of the bombing. The Journal Record was and 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.


23. What is the building to the north of the Survivor Tree and did it receive any damage?
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 where the roof broke away and slid to the ground below.


24. 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.


25. What is the gray building on 5th and Harvey Streets?
It is the Regency Tower, which was in 1995 and still 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.


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