Volume 17 • Issue 22 | October 22 - 28, 2004

Downtown Express photo by Jennifer Bodrow

A fence covered with 9/11 tiles surrounds a parking lot at Greenwich Ave. and Seventh Ave. S., owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Community Board 2 is proposing the location as a World Trade Center memorial park.

Board looks to make Village’s tile park a 9/11 memorial

By Rachel Evans

From far away it is a blur of red, white and blue images. Up close, it is a fence decorated with a menagerie of ceramic tiles with painted messages from across the United States.

More than 5,000 pieces hang by wire on the fence that surrounds the southeast corner of Greenwich Ave. and Seventh Ave. S. Some tiles read “We will never forget,” others are filled with swirls and patterns of color and still others are in the form of angels and flags.

What began as a “little, dinky, one person effort” by Lorrie Veasey, the owner of a paint-your-own-pottery store, in the days immediately following 9/11, has become so appreciated by the community it is on its way to becoming a permanent memorial and park.

However, these tiles aren’t on just any chain-link fence. They are on one that surrounds a small corner lot owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Brad Hoylman, chairperson of Community Board 2’s transportation committee, said the board unanimously favors working with the M.T.A. and affected stakeholders in the community to begin the transformation process.

“Given the property doesn’t seem to be fully taken advantage of,” Hoylman said, “it would be great to preserve the tiles as part of a memorial and possibly convert the property to a small park.”

He added that the community is eager to hear what the M.T.A. says and is hoping for a positive verdict from them.

If the M.T.A. agrees to work with the community, it will still be a multi-tiered process, said Hoylman. M.T.A. officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Veasey said right after 9/11 she made more than 5,000 ceramic angels and American flags herself and put them up with ribbon on the fence, one end of which ends by her store, Our Name Is Mud.

“They were gone in three days,” she said.

After the theft, Veasey said she posted her story on a Web bulletin run by the Contemporary Ceramic Studio Association and within days tiles were pouring in to the store.

“Tiles came from across the country,” she said. “And then it took on a life of its own.”

Veasey said it would be nice for the area to become a permanent space for a memorial, but she is also concerned the whole idea might lose some of its charm.

“Ceramics is permanent by the very nature of the medium,” she said. “To me, it has been official from the beginning.”

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