Editorial: Keep this 9/11 symbol at Battery Park
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell bowed to common sense this week when she told Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the National Park Service would at least temporarily screen visitors to Liberty Island in Battery Park when the Sandy-tossed Statue of Liberty reopens on July 4.
So that's one noisy dispute resolved -- and one to go.
The remaining rhubarb focuses on the Sphere, the Fritz Koenig statue that wound up in Battery Park after 9/11. As with the security tent, the Sphere has never quite meshed with the aesthetic ambitions of the Battery Conservancy, which manages the 25-acre preserve. The conservancy wants it moved elsewhere. Bloomberg likes it where it is.
The conservancy view isn't frivolous. It worries, among other things, about weighing down the park, which already has other memorials, with too many monuments invoking wars and death.There's already the World War II memorial, the Korean War memorial and the Coast Guard memorial -- to name just a few.
But the argument to keep the Sphere in Battery Park is stronger. Not only is it at one of Liberty Island's portals, it anchors a district in lower Manhattan that sees more than 10 million visitors a year.
And it's powerful. Unveiled in the 1970s on a plaza between the Twin Towers, it was an optimistic symbol of a world united around the benefits of trade. Today it evokes dashed hopes and dreams. It brings tears regularly to the eyes of high school students, aging firefighters and visitors on their first trips to America.
There are practical reasons for not placing it at the Sept. 11 memorial site. For example, the only feasible place for it there would be on the roof of the 9/11 museum, which couldn't support it. But it does deserve a prominent, permanent space in lower Manhattan and not storage. The Port Authority, which owns the piece, should remember that. Meanwhile, what better place for it than at Liberty's door?