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9/11 Memorial Joins the Fold as Popular Visitor Destination

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The National September 11 Memorial admitted its one millionth visitor this week. The memorial plaza and its two fountains opened to the public on Sept. 12.

City and memorial officials made the announcement on Thursday.

"More visitors than ever before — 50.2 million — came to New York City in 2011," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement. "And this year, one million of them were able to add a visit to the 9/11 Memorial to their trip, commemorating the lives of those lost on that unforgettable day.

Some 10,000 people visit the site each day, according to a press statement from the 9/11 Memorial. Visitors to the site must apply for free passes in advance of their visit. Donations are optional. The site accommodates 1,500 visitors at a time.

Visitors to the site have had to contend with construction workers, and fences and barricades due to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

While the memorial is one of the newest sites to attract the attention of visitors, there are still many other institutions that vie for New York City visitors' time.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which also offers free admission and encourages donations, has welcomed about 1.85 million visitors since September.

Roughly 3.9 million visitors have visited the Empire State Building in each of the past four years, an attendance number similar to the 9/11 Memorial's visitation. The Rockefeller Center Top of the Rock Observation Deck hosts over 2.6 million visitors annually, while Ellis Island is on track to bring in 2.8 million visitors in its 2011-12 fiscal year.

One site that won't be drawing visitors anytime soon is the 9/11 Museum. Mayor Bloomberg said that work at the planned museum at the World Trade Center has stopped due to a dispute over money. Bloomberg said there is no chance the museum will open on time. It was scheduled to open on the 11th anniversary of the attacks.

The 9/11 Memorial pays tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 and Feb. 26, 1993 attacks. The memorial was dedicated to victims' families on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and opened to the general public the following day.