Koenig Sphere moved from The Battery to permanent home in Liberty Park

Associated Press / Peter Morgan
Workers moved the 25-ton sculpture from its home since 2002 in The Battery to its new site in Liberty Park on the night of Aug. 16.

BY COLIN MIXSON

An iconic World Trade Center sculpture that survived 9/11 was brought back to near its original site last week, nearly 16-years after the attacks.

The Port Authority quietly moved Fritz Koenig’s Sphere from its temporary home in The Battery to Liberty Park on Aug. 16, where it will overlook the 9/11 memorial and its former home between the Twin Towers, where it was first installed in 1970.

Associated Press / Ted Warren
The Koenig Sphere survived the collapse of the World Trade Center towers largely intact, and became a potent symbol of defiant resilience for Downtowners after 9/11.

The 25-ton bronze sculpture was found bent and scorched, but largely intact amid the rubble of the fallen towers, and was dismantled as the city deliberated what, if anything, to do with the battered artwork.

The sculpture found a temporary home in The Battery six months later, where it was installed near Pier A and rededicated as an interim monument to victims of the attack.

Throughout the years, however, neither The Battery Conservancy, nor the National September 11 Memorial & Museum could be persuaded to offer the Koenig Sphere a permanent home, despite the advocacy of victim’s families, who argued the sculpture should be placed back in its original place as a symbol of survival and resilience.

“I was originally advocating for it to go back to pretty much where it was,” said Michael Burke, founder of Save the Sphere, and brother to firefighter William Burke, who was killed in the towers’ collapse.

But memorial planners didn’t like how the sphere evoked memories of the attack, according to Burke, who faults the museum’s board for sanitizing the memorial to the victims by ignoring the horror of the attacks.

“The plans for the memorial were to pretty much wipe out any trace of the attack, so all their final designs didn’t include any direct reminder of what happened there,” Burke said. “It was like removing the dome from the Hiroshima memorial, or any ships from Pearl Harbor.”

The Port Authority asked Burke to endorse a move to Liberty Park on several occasions, and the brother of the slain firefighter eventually agreed to the site as a decent compromise.

“It overlooks the memorial, it’s next to the Greek Church,” said Burke. “It’s a good site.”

The Sphere will remain covered until an official, as-yet-unscheduled unveiling ceremony expected in the first two weeks of September, according to a Port Authority spokeswoman.

Photo by Milo Hess
The iconic Koenig Sphere will remain shrouded at Liberty Park until a formal unveiling next month.

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3 Responses to Koenig Sphere moved from The Battery to permanent home in Liberty Park

  1. Timothy Warner

    What kind of short sighted small minded nonsence is it that they think

    it should not evoke memories of that GOD AWFUL Attack ?

  2. Putting the Sphere back in its original location was never a practical alternative given the design of the Memorial, and there are plenty of reminders of the horror of the attack in the Museum. But the Sphere is certainly a legitimate historical artifact that deserves to be on public display at a prominent location that is in reasonable proximity to the WTC site. I think that placing it in Liberty Park, where it overlooks the site, is a pretty good compromise, and I’m happy to see that Mr. Burke (who has written many letters on this matter over the years) finds this to be an acceptable outcome. This has been a contentious issue for many years, and I’m glad to see that it has finally been resolved.

    • “Putting the Sphere back in its original location was never a practical alternative given the design of the Memorial” ??? The memorial fountains sit at the exact locale of the two towers, and the sphere used to sit atop a wide circular platform. There was more than enough room for the sphere atop its current platform, given the current config of the site.

      The ONLY reasons the sphere has been kept out are 1) the extreme excess of P.C. control of the memorial project, leaving the site with that undeniable antiseptic, lifeless feel, and 2) the emphatic intent of having anything even remotely related to the attack being hidden behind the lucrative turnstyles of the museum. Add in the architecturally interesting but purely product placement showcase (shopping mall), and P.C. Barnum would be proud.

      Kudos to the PA and those who were able to get the sphere within view of the WTC plaza. May those who feel offended by its presence someday experience a reality gut check to what actually happened here on 9/11/01.

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