Volume 17 • Issue 31 | Dec. 24 - 30, 2004


Don’t rush decision on name listings

A bull in an art bidding shop
Tourists stood at Bowling Green near “Charging Bull” Tuesday. Arturo Di Modica, the bronze bull’s sculptor, announced this week that he is putting the Wall St. icon up for sale on the condition that the owner donate the bull to the city in exchange for a plaque and a tax deduction. He is asking for a minimum of $5 million and there reportedly are potential buyers including unnamed investment banks. Di Modica put the bull near the New York Stock Exchange in 1989 without permission and the Parks Dept. agreed to allow it to be moved outside Bowling Green Park a few days later. Downtown Express photo by Jennifer Bodrow

The entire World Trade Center site will be a memorial to the people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001 and Feb. 26, 1993. The office buildings and train center will in a sense pay respect to those who died working in a free society — and the return of a thriving commercial center will mean that Islamic extremism cannot end our way of life. Cultural buildings will be a fitting response to evil. Those points perhaps can be debated, but one thing is indisputable: The memorial will be a memorial. It will be about remembering the nearly 3,000 who died, so the way the names are listed is thus a fundamental part of that memorial.

The current plan is to list the names randomly around the footprints of the Twin Towers with shield insignias near the names of the uniform emergency responders. Michael Arad, the architect who conceived the Reflecting Absence memorial idea, explained last January that choosing how to list the names was the single most emotional issue because some relatives wanted their loved ones to be listed with co-workers and others felt that listing firefighters and police officers together might make it seem like the uniform officers’ lives were more valuable.

The names can’t seem like an endless, faceless list for people born in the 21st century who visit the memorial. One way to avoid this could be to add information to the list – where were they when they died, what was their job, etc.

A large number of family members are against a random listing and officials with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation may now be willing to leave the name question open. They should be. The three-year memorial construction project is not expected to begin until 2006 and the name question can be resolved well after construction begins. The time will be valuable. Family members are continuing to go through a grieving process and all of our thoughts about 9/11 are evolving too.

Kevin Rampe, president of the L.M.D.C. and a member of the memorial foundation, told this paper a few weeks ago that the name question was “put … to bed a long time ago.” When pressed by family members to explain that, he reportedly said the name listing plan could be changed. His second comment was the right one.

Bullish on the sculpture

“Charging Bull” is our mascot near Wall St. and the symbolic connection the public can make with all of the world-changing financial decisions now made behind security barriers up and down The Street. That’s why tourists line up almost every day to take their picture next to Arturo Di Modica’s bronze sculpture which ain’t no steer – he’s all bull as Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe pointed out this week. Di Modica has proposed getting reimbursed for his gift to Downtown by getting a private firm or person to pay him for the sculpture on the condition that the bull is donated to the city and stays put. A plaque would be placed near C.B. recognizing the donor. As long as the bull’s grandeur is not diminished by the plaque, it sounds like a reasonable development. The New York Times reported that the city Art Commission perhaps might hesitate making the bull a permanent institution Downtown. To the rest of us, the bull became an institution 15 years ago. The commission of course has to dot its “i’s” and do what it does, but it can’t let “Charging Bull” stray far from The Street.

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