Rebuilding Roundup Archive: August 2003

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Friday, August 29

Yesterday, the Port Authority released 2,000 pages of documents, largely transcripts of radio transmissions from people at the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001 attacks. The transcripts show new details, in conversations on two-way radios and in calls from Port Authority police officers, about the horror and heroism of that day. Victims' family members have said that the Port Authority, which made the documents public after the New York Times sued for their release, should not have timed the release of the transcripts so close to the second anniversary of the attacks.

A new report by the Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General found that the White House influenced the agency to tell New Yorkers that the air was safe after the September 11 attacks, even before the agency had fully monitored the air quality near the World Trade Center site. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Representative Jerrold Nadler have called for a Congressional inquiry into the agency's response to the attack.

The 92nd Street Y is developing plans to open a branch at Ground Zero, either in the performing arts center that is planned for the World Trade Center site or nearby. Cultural organizations have until September 15 to submit proposals for the World Trade Center site space, and the Y is considering sharing space with the New York City Opera, Hunter College, the Tribeca Film Festival and the Joyce Theater.

Friday, August 22

Governor George Pataki said this week that he supports building a tunnel to bring a stretch of West Street along Ground Zero underground. Many downtown residents oppose the tunnel plan, and rebuilding and transportation officials have said that they are considering two options for West Street, one that includes the tunnel, and one that keeps the street at ground level.

In a recent meeting, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation officials decided that when as many as eight finalists are selected in the World Trade Center memorial competition this fall, each will be given more than $100,000 to further develop their designs and ideas.

Also during the meeting, development corporation chairman John Whitehead said that the 1776-foot tall tower planned for Ground Zero will stay where architect Daniel Libeskind originally proposed. Developer Larry Silverstein had suggested moving the tower closer to the planned transit station. Whitehead said that the location was an important part of Libeskind's design, and "The reasons for moving it were not strong enough to overcome that."

Friday, August 15

This week, city officials announced their plans for the second anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, which will be marked this September 11 with a program that was influenced heavily by the requests of the families of those killed.

In a four-hour ceremony confined to Ground Zero, the names of the 2800 attack victims will be read aloud by 200 children. The bells of the city's houses of worship will toll, and four moments of silence will be honored -- each marking a critical event of the morning of September 11.

The service will begin at 8:46 a.m. to mark the minute that the first plane hit the north tower. It will end at noon, when trumpeters from the police and fire department bands play "Taps." At sunset, the twin beams of the "Tribute in Light," which originally marked the forms of the towers in the sky in March 2002, will return for one night.

Friday, August 8

A jury decided yesterday that a Queens man was guilty of concocting a fake story about a son who died during the September 11 attacks in order to collect about $160,000 from charities. The state Supreme Court convicted Cyril Kendall of grand larceny after prosecutors tried to show that Wilfred, the son Kendall said died on 9/11, had never existed in the first place.

A new study has concluded that the toxic dust cloud that enveloped lower Manhattan shortly after the collapse of the World Trade Center may have caused pregnant women who were exposed to it to deliver slightly smaller babies. Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine said the average birth weight of babies born to women who were at or near Ground Zero on September 11, 2001 is about a half-pound less than normal, and that the soot, pulverized glass and other toxins inhaled by exposed women is to blame. "Our best guess," explained researcher Dr. Philip Landrigan, "is that women who were exposed to overly large quantities of soot on 9/11, and the succeeding days, developed the same problem you see in women who smoke during pregnancy."

After downtown residents and local politicians sued the city about the closing of Park Row, a state judge ruled on August 4 that within 90 days, the city must complete a review of the effects of closing the street to most vehicles. The judge also ruled that police have acted illegally in taking over James Madison Plaza in Chinatown, and said that the police must remove their vehicles from the plaza by the end of the year. The police department has said that Park Row must be closed for security reasons.

Protesters have gathered at recent Lower Manhattan Development Corporation neighborhood workshops in Chinatown and the Lower East Side, saying that they are frustrated by the ways that the development corporation is spending federal 9/11 aid. The development corporation, which has about $1 billion to spend in neighborhoods around the World Trade Center site, has been holding small workshops with invited community members several times a week throughout the area.

Friday, August 1

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava will design the $2 billion transportation terminal at the World Trade Center site, the Port Authority announced yesterday. Intended as a kind of Grand Central Terminal downtown, the station will link a rebuilt PATH station with 14 subway lines. Calatrava, famous for designing train stations in Europe, including the Orient Station in Portugal, will work together with two design and engineering firms to design the building. The team will collaborate with Daniel Libeskind, the architect of the master plan for Ground Zero. In choosing Calatrava, the Port Authority in effect nixed the idea of putting the proposed 1,776-foot tower atop the terminal, as developer Larry Silverstein had preferred.

The Port Authority also reached an agreement yesterday with the federal government to move the United States Customs House, which was located on the northwest corner of the World Trade Center site, to a different location. This would allow the 1,776-foot tower that Libeskind designed to be built on the northwest corner, as the architect planned. Silverstein has proposed building the tower closer to the transit station.

These and several other rebuilding developments this week, the Times reported, make it clear that, after months of disagreements over Daniel Libeskind's design for the site of the World Trade Center, it is Libeskind's vision that is emerging as the consensus choice, and the one that is likely to be built "in substantially recognizable form."

Half of lower Manhattan residents support building a single memorial, with no special distinction for firefighters and rescue workers, at the World Trade Center site, according to a Pace University poll released this week. About 25 percent support one memorial that "especially identifies the firefighters and rescue workers," while 21 percent said that there should be two separate memorials. Forty percent of those polled said that decisions about the memorial should be made by family members of those who were killed. The memorial will be selected by a special 13-member jury, which includes one family member, this fall.

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