Holocaust Museum Is Finally Ready To Begin Construction


By Arline Klatte

August 30-

September 12, 1994.

Construction on the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, began on October 16th and was designed by Kevin Roche Associates, whose other credits included the Central Park Zoo and the Oakland Museum.

Rita Lerner, daughter of Holocaust survivors, was involved with the planning for seven years, and became chairperson of the museum’s associate division. “What I can’t wait for is to walk through the doors with my children, and, God willing, having my mother still be alive to see it,” she said.

The museum was to include 3,000 audiotaped interviews with survivors, though many of those who interviewed back in the 1970’s had since died.

David Altshuler, director of the museum-in-progress since 1986, attributed the finalization of the plans to Mayor Ed Koch’s decision that a living memorial should be built. In 1981, Koch organized the Holocaust Memorial Commission, which leased a large piece of land on the southern end of Battery Park city in 1986.

When asked why it would take ten years to complete, Altshuler said, “All good complex and important things take a long time,” and attributed 8-year construction delays to downturns in the real estate market.

It was the first museum to be built inside the boundaries of Battery Park City, and half of the expected $15 million dollar budget was to be covered by the Battery Park City Authority.

The museum opened its doors for the first time at 36 Battery Place in 1997.

Prepared by Helaina N. Hovitz