February 27, 2006

Trying to build the World Trade Center memorial.

It's been difficult raising the money for the World Trade Center Memorial. For one thing, the amount is $500 million. And there have been so many other disasters recently to claim the attention of donors. Don't those who are suffering in the aftermath of the tsunami, Katrina, the Pakistani earthquake, and the Philippine mudslide seem much more important than building two extravagant 176 foot square pools in lower Manhattan? And then there is the opposition by some of the victims' survivors:
Some family members argue that the site will be a target for new terrorist attacks, and that its underground location makes it difficult to escape in an emergency. "We know from 1993, and from 2001, that the terrorists love that site, and it will be a very attractive target again," said Debra Burlingame, a memorial foundation board member, whose brother, Charles F. Burlingame, was the captain of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

"I believe in the memorial and I support the memorial process, but right now I wouldn't go into the memorial," said Monica Iken, another memorial foundation board member, whose husband, Michael, died in the south tower. "Even if you have enough egress and exit points, it's so far below ground. If there is an emergency, most people will just run back the way they came in."
It's such a complex, expensive, and emotional enterprise. But I think Governor Pataki summed it up well: "The debates are over. Now it's time to build. It is a moral obligation."

18 comments:

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Here in the New York area the handling of the world trade center site, in toto, is looked upon with much frowning. The attempt to build a 1776 foot tall building there is considered...unwise...to say the least.

(Ironically, The PATH station, which is the subway to New Jersey, is the only part of the project whose design is beautiful, and whose construction is already moving forward.)

I feel that the hesitation around the memorial is largely derived from the overall sluggishness and unnattractiveness surrounding the overall redevelopment. And I think Pataki's "let's move!" attitude is perceived as having been hurtful to the process, and motivated by his own pursuit of a legacy to run for president on.

limeshurbet said...

I'd say part of that moral obligation is to ensure the memorial isn't a death trap; the family members have a point.

Dave said...

Say what you will about The Donald, but I think he should have been put in charge of the redevelopment efforts when he offered to do so a year or so ago.

Even if his proposal, recreating the Twin Towers is as uninspired as the towers were ugly.

P. Froward said...

$500,000,000? That's ridiculous.

I propose a rule of thumb: If the Cenotaph is sufficient to commemorate something on the order of a million war dead, you don't need to build something bigger to commemorate less than 3,000.

What did the Vietnam memorial in DC cost?

dick said...

A big part of the problem is the idea of what the memorial should be. Initially the liberal mindset of lower Manhattan wanted to put up a huge monument to freedom with the emphasis on MLK instead of memorializing the destruction of the towers. The survivors of the crash and the families of the victims, all but the loudmouth shrew from New Jersey and her friends, wanted the memorial to be to the victims of the destruction of the towers. This went back and forth and now I hope the families have won. Now the problem is what should be built. I have seen a couple of ideas for the site, even one that wants to leave it as it is so we can see the results of the crash.

I just wish they would get on with it and get done what they are going to do once they have decided what that is for sure.

Smilin' Jack said...

It may seem trite to say so, but the terrorists' objective, by definition, is to cause fear, and when they do, they win. Making decisions based on fear will only encourage them to further acts of destruction.

The pools are silly, though--the towers should be rebuilt, with an extra floor as a memorial and a message. Anyway, that's what I'd want, if I'd lost someone there.

INMA30 said...

The market could in no way support that much office space. Like the original WTC it would require huge subsidies to fill. As a taxpaying NYer, if there is that much money to go around, build the freakin' 2nd Ave subway line already.

Go ahead with whatever Memorial, but why kill the downtown office market. If they wait long enough they could make it an Iraq Occupation Memorial as well.

vbspurs said...

Minority though I am, I am of the opinion they should build a Twin Towers exactly as it was.

EXACTLY as it was.

In tone, this would echo what the Israelis do, immediately after a suicide attack in their country:

Within hours, the site of the carnage is investigated, then cleaned up, and put EXACTLY as everything was, without a trace of anything having happened.

This sends an immediate message to the murderers:

You can try, but you can't succeed, in destroying us.

In the real world, this doesn't happen. Destruction in the West, is a chance for renewal, and the burgeoning of newer, better ideas.

Fine.

But let's get that $500 million up there guys.

I'm sure many Upper East Siders contributed up the wazoo for the poor Indonesians in their plight.

But their own...? Who knows.

Cheers,
Victoria

downtownlad said...

Let's see. Debra Burlingame, a non-New York City resident, sabatoges the cultural center. Now instead of a fine institution at the site, we're going to be left with a barren corner. There was going to be an amazing building by the architectural firm Snoetta, and now there will be... nothing. Unless you count a visitors center that is 1/6th the size that is on the opposite side of the site.

And then Debra Burlingame wants to stop the construction of retail at the site.

And then Debra Burlingame wants to stop the construction of a cultural center by Frank Gehry at the site.

Debra Burlingame has succeeded in making sure that nothing of value is built at Ground Zero, except a permenant tribute to the victims.

In other words - it is one big cemetary. Thanks to Debra Burlingame and conservative bloggers - the terrorists have one. All life has been permenantly sucked out of Ground Zero.

And now they want my money? Um - no thanks.

The Drill SGT said...

Victoria,

I love you!

Having said that, I like simple monuments to war dead and that's what we're talking about here. It brings tears to my eyes to visit small towns and hamlets in Europe and the NE US and see a simple granite monolith inscribed with the names of the dead. In this case, we should use a Fire House Bell as an icon as well. But 1/2 a billion? Much too much. Simple, elegant, and focused memorial is best.

ShadyCharacter said...

Downtownlad's indignation is misplaced. The "cultural center" whose loss he bemoans was abandoned because it is simply not appropriate to have a 24/7 Hate-America orgy in that location. It was so egregious even NEW YORKERs eventually got the point...

=)

vbspurs said...

Victoria,

I love you!


Drill SGT, don't toy with my affections!

I'm going through a tender time on Althouse, and I need my comfort zone.

Hey, I know, you want to watch "Beaches" with me?

Having said that, I like simple monuments to war dead and that's what we're talking about here.

Me too. I cried at the Vietnam memorial, despite thinking at first, it was too spare.

It brings tears to my eyes to visit small towns and hamlets in Europe and the NE US and see a simple granite monolith inscribed with the names of the dead. In this case, we should use a Fire House Bell as an icon as well. But 1/2 a billion? Much too much. Simple, elegant, and focused memorial is best.

Sensible, of course.

But you know, a memorial like the Cenotaph in London, even the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, have something which is priceless beyond the money it cost to build.

I just don't want a future generation to go, "Wow, they argued about how many nickles and dimes it would cost to build this?".

You know?

Cheers,
Victoria

Eli Blake said...

I agree with the Governor, just build it.

And why are they trying to rely on private donations? I live in Arizona, but this was a national tragedy, and I'd have no problem with them appropriating Federal tax dollars for the memorial.

P. Froward said...

Victoria,

"Nickels and dimes"? Half a billion bucks? That's the one with a 'b', nine zeroes.

It feels good to go all gooey and write a blank check, but it's not responsible. It's easy to throw away a fortune on grand gestures if it's not your money.

Even in Manhattan, I'm sure you can build a very nice, tasteful, impressive memorial for under a million bucks, if you've already got the land — and if you don't have left-wingers frothing at the mouth demanding that you build a monument to their psychopathologies instead... and if the project isn't designed by committee, and if it never falls under the influence of self-aggrandizing pinheads in public life who want to build a monument to their own willingness to spend staggering amounts of other people's money on cheap theatrics, wretched excess, and mawkish hooey.


"It is a moral obligation."

Mawkish. Hooey.

P. Froward said...

Wait, "private donations"?

Oh. Well, never mind then. If it's private money, who cares?

downtownlad said...

"Even in Manhattan, I'm sure you can build a very nice, tasteful, impressive memorial for under a million bucks, if you've already got the land — and if you don't have left-wingers frothing at the mouth demanding that you build a monument to their psychopathologies instead"

Well - luckilly for us Manhattanites, YOU don't live in Manhattan, and YOU will have zero say over the memorial.

The last thing we need is a memorial dictated by red-staters. It's bad enough that we have a media-whore like Debra Burlingame from Westchester trying to dictate the memorial.

I think residents of New York City should be the only ones with a say. After all - we do have to live with it.

dick said...

downtownlad,

You may live with it but you don't have to live with it. In the meantime it is supposedly a memorial to those who lost their lives and their families in the crash. Debra Burlingame is one of those. I live in Queens and the fire houses here still have memorials to those lost in the crash. They should have a say in what happens. People from all over the country came to help out in the rescues after the crash and some of them lost their lives. They should have a say in what is built as well. People from all over the world, not just the high income, high rent paying, self-satisfied residents of lower Manhattan.

The WTC was filled with all kinds of people from all over the world that day. The memorial just to cover them and the initial group of rescuers would do very nicely. Instead we get a high priced architect designing a memorial to everything but what happened at that site with the extreme groups patting themselves on the back for being so multicultural in tow. I know the families who still had signs up asking for news of what happened to the missing that day don't agree and I think they have at least as much right as the residents who stood around and watched that day.

vbspurs said...

The WTC was filled with all kinds of people from all over the world that day.

Amongst them, 500 Brits, including the husband of someone very close to me.

I cannot forebear the parochialism of the statement that went with this putrid sentiment of "you people stay out of NYC's affairs".

New York isn't even Chicago, a city with an international claim, but not a claim to being the most international city on the planet.

Such a sentiment can only come from those who are either unaware that NYC is the whole world's city, or could care less about the rest of us.

Cheers,
Victoria