The site was created to give people a place to come to reflect on lives that were lost on September 11, 2001.
Reason site was selected: On September 11, thousands of residents of Essex County came to Eagle Rock to view the WTC attacks, with impromptu memorials and shrines emerging on the site for months after. Kroessig said that everyone in the area knows that this is the overlook by which one can view the NYC skyline, and 9-11 was no exception. As such, they felt that they had to do something to enhance that site in the wake of the event and the new use of the space: "it was immediately clear that we needed to do something...this project really came to us." Improving the site is worthwhile unto itself, because the Reserve is somewhat underutilized (besides the hiking trails), according to Kroessig. Meanwhile, the WTC United Families Group was looking for an area to create a living memorial, and the two groups merged their vision and resources to work on this project. The memorial includes new walls with names of all of the victims of 9-11, with a central sculpture of an open book with the names of Essex county residents, a sculpture of a young girl, and a boy gazing out over New York with a lantern.
Project Coordinator Gary Kroessig said, "initially this was to be a county monument, now it is clear that it's beyond Essex victims to include everyone in New Jersey, the country, and internationally; everyone was affected. The site is to give people a place to come to reflect on lives that were lost that day, while the memorial garden is a place for the families specifically....Many people don’t want to go to Ground Zero, its too close. Here it's quiet and close to home."