FAQs about the Memorial Grounds

What is the significance of the 9:01 Gate and the 9:03 Gate?

The Gates of Time forever frame a moment of destruction and tragedy. The 9:01 gate is a symbolic reference to the last minute of innocence for our nation in regards to domestic terrorism.The 9:03 gate is a symbolic reference to the first moment of recovery, the moment when grieving, and healing, began. The time of 9:02 a.m. stretches between the two, presenting a tragically long minute in which citizens were killed, survived and changed forever.

Where was the Federal building located?

The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was located just south of the Reflecting Pool, where today a grass lawn holds 168 empty chairs. The nine story Murrah Building occupied an entire city block in downtown Oklahoma City.

Is there anything that remains of the Federal building?

Yes, the eastern corner of the original Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building remains, just off of Robinson Avenue.Today, this remaining portion of the building is termed the Survivor Wall and holds four granite panels.Engraved upon these panels, which were salvaged from the Murrah Building, are the names of those who survived this tragedy.

Where was the front of the building?

The north face of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building served as the business entrance and is now represented by the north line of Loblolly pine trees. The assailant parked the Ryder truck filled with explosives along this north face.

There was also a southern formal entrance to the building.

Where was the truck that held the bomb parked?

The truck parked along Northwest 5th Street, in a loading zone parallel to the building's north entrance. The loading zone was off center to the east of the north entrance.

One can locate the approximate position of the truck by considering the native Loblolly pine trees that stand on the site today. Beginning at the 9:01 gate and looking west upon the north tree line, you can count four pines down to view where the tragedy began.

How much damage was done to the surrounding area?

The bomb damaged 347 buildings in the immediate area. Thirty buildings were heavily damaged and since then approximately sixteen buildings were torn down. Twenty blocks of downtown OKC were cordoned off due to the bomb's extent.

Were there any other buildings on the Memorial grounds?

Yes, there were three additional structures that were standing.The Oklahoma Water Resource Board Building stood at the intersection of Northwest 5th Street and Harvey Avenue, where the Rescuer's Orchard is now planted.

Directly east of the OWRB Building sat the Athenian Building, which housed business offices and a restaurant. A pathway leading from the museum to the Reflection Pool is located where the Athenian Building stood before the bombing.

Today, the Children's Area occupies the space were once stood a small annex building containing the printing pad for the Journal Record Building.

These buildings were all too heavily damaged to be repaired after the bombing and were demolished.

What is the building to the north of the Survivor Tree and did it receive any damage?

North of the Survivor Tree is the Journal Record Building, which today houses the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum. At the time of the bombing, it was the headquarters for the Law Journal Record Publishing Company. Built in 1922, its original purpose was to house the multiple Masonic Lodges of Oklahoma City.

On April 19, 1995, the building received extensive damage. The explosion blew the roof off, several floors collapsed, and broken glass penetrated the entire structure. Fortunately, no fatalities occurred in the Journal Record Building, although there were several critical injuries.

Are the chairs arranged in a particular order and what do they represent?

The chairs are arranged in nine rows, which represent the nine floors of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Each chair, representing an individual's life, is placed on the row (or the floor) they would have worked on or were visiting at the time of the bombing. Within the row, chairs are grouped by agency and then in alphabetical order progressing from east to west.

The five chairs located on the western side of the field are positioned in a column. These chairs represent the five people who did not die within the federal building.

The chairs are also arranged to abstractly reflect the outline of the blast cavity of the Murrah Building, with the densest concentration of chairs reflecting the severest damage to the building.

When do the chairs and Gates light up?

As darkness falls, the chairs light up, becoming, in the words of the Memorial's designers, 168 beacons of hope. The lights are on a photocell sensor and activate at dusk. In the winter, they sometimes illuminate as early as 4:30 p.m. and, in the summer, as late as 9:00 p.m.

What is the Survivor Tree and what kinds of trees are planted around it?

The Survivor Tree, a one hundred year old American Elm, is the only tree in the surrounding area that survived the bombing. It stands as a beacon of hope, survival, and resiliency.

Immediately surrounding the Survivor Tree, small Eastern (Oklahoma) Redbud trees represent the Oklahoma first responders. These responders were the first to the scene.

The two remaining trees are the Chinese pistache and the Amur maple. These are non-native trees to Oklahoma representing the rescuers who came from across the nation and world.

Last updated: March 23, 2019

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Oklahoma City National Memorial NPS Office
301 NW 6th Street, Suite 305

Oklahoma City, OK 73102-0676


405 609-8855

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