Ground Zero Rising

Cramer reflects on 9/11, rebirth of Trade Center site in new documentary

Jim Cramer takes on a new challenge in the new CNBC original documentary, "Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear," helping viewers navigate the complicated rebuilding of the World Trade Center.

To Jim Cramer, the story of the rebirth of the World Trade Center site is important not just for New Yorkers — but for all Americans.

"I think that one of the major themes that underlies my thinking of this is that [the rebuilding] was almost impossible to get done," he said. "There were so many different — and right — constituencies. … So what you're seeing here, in a very bizarre way, is masterful compromise."

Most viewers of CNBC's "Mad Money" recognize Cramer as a guide to navigate Wall Street investing. But in CNBC's newest documentary "Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear," Cramer took on a different challenge: helping viewers navigate the complicated rebuilding of the World Trade Center.

"I wish every single school in the country could do a field trip here, so that people know, so that people don't forget," Cramer said.

Jim Cramer at One World Trade Center for his new documentary Ground Zero Rising.
CNBC
Jim Cramer at One World Trade Center for his new documentary Ground Zero Rising.
"I like it because it has remembrance. There is honor, but there's also a residue of commerce because there was commerce here."

Cramer was working just a few blocks from the twin towers during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, most in New York. That made reporting his first documentary a personal and eye-opening experience. In a conversation with his digital producer, Abigail Stevenson, he reflected on the making of "Ground Zero Rising."

Like many others, Cramer did not know how far the rebuilding of the new World Trade Center had come along before he began reporting on it. Now, he appreciates the delicate balance displayed on the 16-acre site.

"I like the way things have come together," he said. "I like it because it has remembrance. There is honor, but there's also a residue of commerce because there was commerce here."

"If you went by Gettysburg everyday, I don't think you'd ever be thinking that there wasn't a battle there," he said.

Just steps away from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and reflecting pools, One World Trade towers over the downtown skyline.

"[I] think, given my druthers, that it is maybe the most beautiful office building I have ever been in, in the world. There's something to be said of an attractive workspace, because you spend so much time at work," Cramer said.

Jim Cramer
CNBC
Jim Cramer

When Cramer and his team researched the total cost of the site — approximately $14 billion to $16 billion in public funds alone — he found the numbers to be staggering at first. However, a trip to the Roman Coliseum with his daughter changed his mind.

"She got to talk to me about how they used the recycling of the marble from the Coliseum to build the Vatican because it was expensive," he said. "And at one point we were saying 'Wow, this must have really cost a fortune,' but who talks about that? It costs what it costs."

Ultimately, Cramer hopes that everyone who watches "Ground Zero Rising" feels compelled to visit the World Trade Center — to look at the names at the reflecting pool, honor the lives lost, and decide how they feel about the site.

"They have to come. They have to make up their minds," he said. "My mom and dad took me to the Lincoln Memorial when I was 5. … I went there many, many times. And there was no, 'Wow I don't know how I feel' — that was just awe."

For Cramer, however, the World Trade Center is different. "It's almost a puzzle: Do you understand what's happened? Can you put it in the context of your life? And do you understand the tragedy, and also understand the rising? Not the triumph, there's never going to be a triumph here. There's no triumph — but there's a comeback."

Tune in to Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear, Thursday Sept. 1 at 10p ET on CNBC.

Correction: This story was revised to delete an incorrect reference to the number of people killed in New York.