Friday, September 11, 2009

When will Ground Zero skyline change?

Eight years later, Ground Zero remains a construction zone.
The plans for the former site of the World Trade Center, brought down hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001, have taken time and much input along the way to unfold. The Freedom Tower's frame—just emerging above street level now—and the transit hub won't be finished in time for the 10th anniversary, two years away. Negotiations for three office towers planned for the east haveentered arbitration, and the wrangling means no firm date at all.
When the Skyline Will Change
The majority of New Yorkers, though, remain skeptical, given the "snail's pace" of reconstruction, and families of 9/11 victims have declared the slow-going "outrageous."
Still, formal tributes to America's tragedies have historically taken a long time. The Oklahoma City National Memorial's dedication took five years, but the USS Arizona Memorial's formal commemoration of World War II vets emerged 20 years after Pearl Harbor.
For its part, the Port Authority, which oversees much of the reconstruction, asserts a "new spirit" of progress: The Record details what's planned on the site, including these deadlines:
  • Memorial (2011)
  • Vehicle security center (early 2012)
  • Museum (early 2013)
  • 1,776-foot-tall Freedom Tower (mid 2013)
  • Transportation hub the size of Grand Central Station (late 2013)
Makeshift Tributes
As people await the grand vision to rise in lower Manhattan, Ground Zero tributes do exist in one form or another. Across the street from the construction site, a foundation has set up shop—literally—to show videos and sell souvenirs to fund-raise for the museum. Online there's Project Rebirth, which is tracking the rebuilding using lapsed photography. And while few can visit Hangar 17 at JFK, the NYT hosts a panorama of its contents...and the pieces of Ground Zero await a permanent home.
Below, a quick timeline of Ground Zero construction thus far.
Ground Zero Construction Timeline
  • 2001: NYC employees clear makeshift tributes of flowers, pictures, and candles. The first memorial service for victims' families is held Oct. 28.
  • 2002: Shrine artifacts from Ground Zero and throughout New York form a New York Historical Society exhibit. Ideas begin to float about how to mark the site, including a memorial tomb. That summer, six possible site designs are unveiled to the public, but about 4,000 gather at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to ask for something "bolder." The process starts over again.
  • 2003: Memorial or not, visitors pay homage at the crater. The contest comes down to two visions, and Daniel Libeskind's soaring glass spire is chosen. Another competition, this time for the World Trade Center memorial design, comes up with the reflecting pool. That winning design undergoes tinkering for months.
  • 2005: Some politicians and 9/11 families protest the International Freedom Center, and a mediator has to be called in. On the fourth anniversary, other 9/11 relatives bemoan stalled progress.
  • 2006: A search for a contractor to start the work finally begins, although some families of the dead sue to stop concrete from being poured over "sacred ground." Just as progress seems to happen (an impromptu steel cross created after the WTC collapse is approved), the mayor declares memorial costs too high. Fortunately, other projects proceed quickly.
  • 2008: After getting angry reactions that a memorial wouldn't make a 10th anniversary deadline, the Port Authority vowed the waterfalls would make the date.
  • 2009: A jumbo column juts out above street level. Delays aside, progress is now visible: Newsday documents the change in a photo gallery.

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