The Twin Towers Alliance website was launched on March 17, 2006, in observance of New York’s ecumenical patron saint. We were hoping that the power St. Patrick used to chase every last snake from Ireland might rub off at the WTC site, where forked tongues and serpentine logic were undermining a true recovery. But we did not rely on divine intervention to straighten it all out. We’ve spent years asking “what the heck is going on?” — and it makes no more sense today than it did at the beginning.
Twin towers have been popping up around the world since 9/11 — in Hong Kong, China, Riyadh, Seoul… while here in New York, we build them everywhere but where they belong. David Childs – architect on the Freedom Tower — designed the stunning Time Warner twins, while Larry Silverstein – the man who failed to live up to his contract to rebuild the Twin Towers – put up Silver Towers, his fraternal twins, in Midtown. But what takes the cake are the Hermitage twins being planned on the banks of the Seine, in view of the Eiffel Tower, by Norman Foster – the British architect who designed the phantom 2 World Trade Center tower.
Officials can boast that the Freedom Tower is a fitting replacement, but only someone who never stood on the Twins’ rooftop deck would believe it — or fail to wonder how we could get it so wrong. The closest the public ever got to a reason for not rebuilding the world-famous towers came in 2006, when the head of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation at the time, Stefan Pryor, was asked about new Twin Towers at a public forum by an Israeli-American supporter, Tal Barzilai.
After all, most of us thought it was a “no-brainer.” As Mayor Koch pointed out, we had the plans. And once Kenneth Gardner and Herbert Belton unveiled their re-engineered “Twin Towers II” we had a new and improved plan that won strong support of the public, 9/11 families, and industry experts. So what was the revelation Mr. Pryor offered for why officials adopted a different plan? He actually said that it was because restoring the pre-WTC street grid was “an imperative.”
In other words, even though the chance of another attack from the air was remote then and is remote now, and the greatest threat to the new Trade Center would be the localized damage of a truck-bombing, officials and planners were dead-set on scrapping the WTC’s “superblock.” It was clear from the start that the superblock presented a virtual moat of protection and that rebuilding above grade would have made truck-bomb attacks – and the “lockdown” now being protested – a non-issue. So why is everyone so upset by the not-so-unintended consequences of bowing to the wishes of a vocal and well-connected few?
When it sinks in that we could have restored the skyline in fact (instead of fiction), even leaving the top half empty, while we turned the lights on every night, and still saved billions of dollars, there will be a lot of splaining to do. There are towers all over the city, the country, and the world that are soft targets for terrorists, but that does not stop people from living and working in them. The Gehry tower near Wall Street is a great success and there are a number of others in New York in various stages of completion.
At least, we would have had the skyline back — and the upper floors would have been ready for the time when people wanted to go higher — for far less than the current plan has spent to provide merely half the space, with the rest being projected for 2019. And we know what those projections are worth, because we have been hearing them for years.
The U.S. has been accused of always fighting the last war – while our more nimble enemies find new ways to disrupt our lives and distort our focus. Now that we have turned our city and country inside out and upside down to escape a threat that is a fraction as likely as being killed in a traffic accident, perhaps we should listen to the E-trade baby. To borrow from his wisdom: “You realize the odds of being attacked by terrorists are the same as being mauled by a polar bear and a regular bear in the same day?” Right?
We can’t make wise choices with half the facts. Officials want to make our choices for us — to protect us from ourselves. But when they make specious claims and the media parrots the claims — as if just saying something makes it so — we have a problem. In something that was presented as news but read like a press release, a Daily News reporter assured us: “Despite reversals, and a tab borne by bridge-and-tunnel tollpayers, the 2.6 million-square-foot colossus has become exactly what architect Daniel Libeskind envisioned in his 2003 master plan – America’s defiant answer to terrorism.”
The offensive quote was in conclusion to the Daily News piece below. The article is chock-full of opinions from the Port Authority’s elite, insisting that the Freedom Tower is “the eighth wonder of the world.” But the statement above was not in quotations – because it wasn’t a quote. It was merely the opinion of someone who felt free to inject his personal bias into his “report.”
The line between a report and an opinion has been blurred from the first — and we can see where that led. We hope that when media professionals recognize how they have been used to program the public they will recant and repent. Because, if we can’t bear to examine and admit our mistakes, how will we ever get rid of the snakes at Ground Zero?