Sept. 11 Memorial On Track To Open Next Year
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Nine years after the September 11th attacks, progress is finally being made at ground zero. The site is busy with construction. The new building, formerly called the Freedom Tower and now called One World Trade Center, is already 36 stories high. That's one-third of its eventual height. The memorial to those who died is set to open in a year for the 10th anniversary.
NPR's Margot Adler reports.
MARGOT ADLER: Most people still think ground zero is just a dusty pit. Less than two years ago it was hard to believe that the port authority of New York and New Jersey, the developer Larry Silverstein and the various state and city agencies would ever get together. But there was sudden momentum behind the idea that the memorial be completed by the 10th anniversary, and a lot of push from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said this last Tuesday:
Mr. MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (Mayor, New York City): While nothing happens in democracy as quickly as we would like, the truth of the matter is democracy does get you to the right place, even if it's sometimes painful and sometimes takes some time.
ADLER: Eventually there will be four tall buildings - a museum not scheduled to open until 2012, a performance space that still needs a design and financing, but the memorial itself is on schedule. Last Tuesday officials hoisted a 50-ton, 70-foot piece of World Trade Center steel. It was once a part of the north tower and it will mark the entrance to the memorial museum. The survivor staircase is already there. The two memorial pools in the footprints of the towers are structurally complete. The wall with the names of those who died is being designed right now. Mayor Bloomberg says the first 16 trees have been planted at Memorial Plaza.
Mr. BLOOMBERG: It is a truly symbolic moment. Life is literally returning to the site and over the next 12 months those trees will be joined by nearly 400 more.
ADLER: Some have observed that years of stagnation surrounding ground zero may have intensified some of the anger toward the Islamic cultural center and mosque proposed for construction nearby. This memorial, says the mayor, will inspire people around the world and will give out the message that freedom is fragile and must be fought for.
Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.
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