The symbolic importance of Ground Zero

Construction continues on 1 World Trade Center, right, as the memorial footprints of the twin towers are seen in New York City.

During the decade since the 9/11 attacks, controversy has reigned at every step of the rebuilding process at Ground Zero.

In 2002, Rudy Giuliani, New York City’s mayor during the attacks, suggested turning the site into a memorial, saying, “Ground Zero is a cemetery.”

Many families at first refused the idea of building on the footprints of the towers, but warmed to architects’ plans for a soaring memorial.

But throughout the years, opinions on what crafted a meaningful memorial clashed — along with competing ideas, including a narrowing in 2003 of eight designs competing to create the memorial.

Years after the tragedy, survivors and family members were irate that the city had nothing but an empty construction site for them to pay their respects.

In 2005, the entire design was scrapped because officials said that it did not meet anti-terror standards.
And officials in charge of the project also reported infighting, with developer Larry Silverstein bringing in a new architect and re-hashing designs several times.

Now, 1 World Trade Center, originally known as the Freedom Tower, is the tallest building downtown and promised to be completed in 2013. It will eventually rise 1,776 feet, become America’s tallest building, and include office spaces — Conde Nast recently signed on to move in — with an observation deck and restaurants.

The “Reflecting Absence” memorial pools are visible, with trees dotting the giant footprints of the two towers. Names of the 3,000 victims are engraved around the edges.

A spokeswoman for developer Silverstein Properties said three other skyscrapers will be finished by 2016, and a transit hub planned for underneath the space will be completed in 2014.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.


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