Volume 21, Number 28 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 21 - 27, 2008

Rendering of the World Trade Center memorial plaza, which will have a forest of trees and reflecting pools at the footprints of the Twin Towers. The museum will be built underneath.

Working to open the memorial as soon as we can

By Joe Daniels

With the help of over 84,000 supporters, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (NS11MM) has made significant progress over the course of the past year in creating what will be the heart of the rebuilt World Trade Center site.

Thanks to the leadership of our board of directors and its chairman, Mayor Bloomberg, in April the NS11MM reached our first phase capital campaign goal of $350 million. This milestone was achieved through the broad support of tens of thousands from all 50 states and 34 foreign countries. Fundraising efforts continue to support the important areas of museum planning, programming, and future operations, with a preliminary goal of $25 million set for this next phase.

On-site, major, visible steps have been taken on the physical construction of the memorial and museum. Working with The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which is responsible for building the project, the foundations were completed mid-year, paving the way for an important milestone reached on September 2, when steel began to rise. Those in the surrounding office towers can now watch the steel progress, as the first of the 9,100 tons of steel that will be part of the Memorial and Museum are put in place.

One particularly meaningful milestone was the move of the museum’s first artifact to bedrock. The Vesey Street Stair Remnant, known as the “Survivors’ Stairs” because they were used as an escape route on 9/11, were lifted and lowered more than 70 feet to the museum’s floor in July.

Our museum curatorial team has been hard at work on building a permanent collection of artifacts and oral histories. To ensure the Museum can tell the story of the Downtown community with as much meaning and impact as possible, staff has been working with local residents and businesses to identify and acquire materials and oral testimonies that convey the experiences of individuals, families, and workers impacted by the 9/11 attacks. If you have material or a story you believe would be of interest, please email collections@sept11mm.org or call 212-312-8858.

As the museum’s exhibition design advances, the NS11MM has also committed to providing public and educational programs now. We recently co-hosted an academic symposium at N.Y.U. with the Mémorial de Caen (the peace museum in Normandy, France), and will continue to produce and host programs that introduce our future visitors to the museum’s vision in advance of its opening. For the online community, we’ve also launched several new features on our website, including a registry of 9/11 response art and a series of webcast interviews exploring the world before and after 9/11.

In September, the NS11MM visited Downtown’s Millennium High School to kick off a national education pilot program, providing teachers with resources to begin conversations about 9/11 in their classes. It was enormously moving and informative to speak with students and teachers about their 9/11 experiences and the continuing challenges of teaching that day as a subject in the classroom.

Around the seventh anniversary of 9/11, more than 20,000 people joined us to sign steel beams that will be used in the Memorial construction when we brought them down to Battery Park and out to Giants’ Stadium. Last year, the beams traveled almost 8,000 miles through 25 cities in 25 states. But as awe-inspiring and meaningful as it was to travel the country, it was tremendously moving to have the beams here at home, near to their final destination, signed by so many people who experienced 9/11 firsthand.

As the readers of this paper know well, the Port Authority announced new completion dates for the memorial and museum in early October. The report the Port Authority released on October 2 reflects what we and so many others have long advocated: recognition that the memorial must be prioritized in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Fully completing and opening the Memorial by 9/11/11 remains the NS11MM’s ultimate goal. We continue to work with the Port Authority to improve upon the schedule outlined and to complete the memorial’s development as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.

We’re encouraged by a re-envisioned and revamped construction management process that, in part, establishes a leadership group tasked with closely monitoring Memorial progress – an important component in helping the Port Authority complete the project as rapidly as possible. The eyes of the world will turn to the World Trade Center on 9/11/11, and it is our hope and expectation that every opportunity will be taken to improve on existing construction milestones to deliver a powerful Memorial by that date.

We recognize the importance of keeping the Downtown community informed of our progress and invite you to visit our website, www.national911memorial.org, or call 212-312-8800 with any questions or concerns.

Joe Daniels is President and C.E.O. of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

Part of the memorial plaza will be built over the World Trade Center train station.





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