Twin Towers Fragment May Be Part Of Permanent Memorial
The skeletal fragment of the World Trade Center’s facade that reached stubbornly out of the rubble for two weeks after terrorist attacks had become a symbol of survival and renewal to some New Yorkers.
Now some want to see part of that seven-story husk that crews removed on September 25th become part of a permanent monument.
"New York should make a commitment now to preserving the searing fragment of ruin already so frequently photographed and televised that it has become nearly as familiar to us as the buildings that once stood there,’’ Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wrote in an op-ed piece last week in The New York Times.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said last week the remaining wall of the south tower needed to come down to clear the way for continuing rescue work. But he added, "what comes down is going to be preserved" in case it is decided later to turn it into a memorial.
With thousands of people still missing in mountains of rubble, it is too early to know what will become of the site where the twin towers stood. The sprawling area in the heart of the city’s financial district could be rebuilt, set aside as a memorial or — most likely — some combination of the two.
As cranes pulled parts of the wall on September 25th, acrid smoke and dust kicked up by the operation filled the air. Dozens of people gathered behind police barricades and watched as chunks of the skeletal frame fell upon the debris pile.
Manhattan resident Jeremy Gould took photos to show his relatives in Tennessee. He said he thought at least part of the debris should be incorporated into a memorial to the victims.
"I don’t think bringing down the remains is closure to the disaster,’’ Gould said. ``I don’t know of any physical act that will give closure. It certainly won’t be soon.’’
Montebello said the piece of wall "should stand forever as a sculptural memorial, incorporated into whatever other structures or landscapes are chosen as fitting for this site.’’
Jean Parker Phifer, president of the Art Commission that approves works of art for city-owned property, called the suggestion "reasonable.’’
"These are remnants of the attack that have resonated with a lot of people, and portions should be saved so that in the future when we get to the point of deciding what is an appropriate memorial, those pieces have not been carted away,’’ Phifer said.
Pedestrians gazing at the familiar surreal hulk before it was brought down also responded positively to the idea of preserving it.
"They should leave it up,’’ said Melisa White of Brooklyn. ``That’s the only thing we have of our memories of the World Trade Center.’’
Jamie Castiglia, of Queens, agreed, although she feared the work could provoke too many strong emotions. "It’s a very fine line. You don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings," she said.
There are precedents for erecting a monument from ruins. Berlin, London and Hiroshima have erected monuments out of wartime ruins. In Oklahoma City, granite salvaged from the bombed Alfred P. Murrah federal building in 1995 was used in a memorial to the 168 victims.