Emerging World Trade Center memorial stirs hearts, hailed as symbol of life
The north memorial pool, one of two marking the lost Twin Towers. See photo gallery of amNY images HERE.
Rising one floor per week, One World Trade Center is growing into what will become the tallest structure in Gotham’s sky. Next door, the footprints of the lost Twin Towers have emerged, massive square voids that will cradle the largest man-made waterfalls on earth.
But for Lee Ielpi and Phyllis Frank, it’s really about the 16 swamp white oak trees recently planted in the Memorial Plaza, and what they represent for those 16 acres that saw unspeakable horror nine years ago Saturday.
“I said, ‘Oh my God. Life,’” said Frank, who lost her son, Morty Frank, 31, an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald. “It’s been a long, long nine years.”
This Sept. 11, it will be wildly inaccurate to complain that progress is hopelessly stalled, but what’s happening, as symbolic as it is, should not obscure a central reality, said Ielpi, 66, the president of the September 11th Families’ Association and co-founder of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center.
“We cannot lose sight of why we are rebuilding. And that is because we lost at the site 2,749 beautiful people,” said Ielpi, among them his son, Jonathan Ielpi, 29, a firefighter. “And then we lost some buildings.”
Jimmy Boyle, 71, who lost his firefighter son, Michael Boyle, 37, would have preferred the entire site serve as a memorial, but is reconciled to the plans.
“I’m not outraged,” said Boyle, who with his wife, Barbara, will be attending Masses and memorials, which comfort him in a way the nascent construction does not.
The new trade center provides an opportunity to educate a nation, especially the young. Ielpi recalled a young guest to the Tribute Center who was under the impression the attacks occurred in 1911.
He also noted another stark figure that is, these days, lost in all the talk of a new skyline: 1,125 trade center victims who are still unaccounted for.
“If we understand those figures, then we understand this is what hatred did, and we can cure it. We can never stop terrorism ... but we can control it,” Ielpi said. “And how can we do that? Education.”
Sheila Anne Feeney contributed to this story.
A Special Place
All around the city, quiet, personal commemorations will occur Saturday far from the din at Ground Zero. Phyllis Frank will join family and friends at Duane Park in TriBeCa. There sits a special place: a bench donated in memory of her son, Morty, left, who died on 9/11.
New World Trade Center rises
Ground Zero is still referred to by some as “the pit,” a national symbol of paralysis, but progress this year has been significant. Here’s where the projects stand:
One World Trade Center
The iconic tower’s steel frame is nearing 40 stories and should top out by the end of next year, with the completion set for 2013. The tip of its spire will hit 1,776 feet.
Memorial Plaza and Museum
The twin pools are 180 by 180 feet, just shy of the original footprint sizes. When completed by the 10th anniversary, 450,000 gallons of water will cascade in each black-granite-clad void. Sixteen of the 400 swamp white oak trees, which will grow to 80 feet tall, grace the plaza. A museum is being built underground.
Construction is under way below street level and is set to reach grade by late 2011. A 1,278-foot-tall tower will be built when developer Larry Silverstein meets certain conditions and secures tenants.
A five-story base is to be built for shops. A 1,080-foot-tall tower is expected to rise above, pegged to certain conditions being met. The hoped-for tower opening is slated for late 2014 or early 2015.
Already rising, the 975-foot tower is expected to open in fall 2013.
This tower will rise on the site of the Deutsche Bank building, which is still being demolished. No firm plans yet.
WTC Transportation Hub
Work is under way on the iconic Santiago Calatrava-designed train station, which is expected to open by 2014.
Rolando Pujol is a managing editor at amNY. Follow him on Twitter @RolandoPujol.