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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 22:13 GMT 23:13 UK
What should replace the Twin Towers?
The Ground Zero site will never be built upon, State Governor George Pataki has announced in an address to a Manhattan remembrance ceremony.
A fifth of the district's business space was lost in the 11 September attacks and there is pressure to start re-using the prime downtown site to get New York back on its feet.
Although the governor was stating a personal view, he holds powerful influence, with authority over all city building and the channelling of extensive funds.
Urban planners have been developing six different proposals for combining commerce with a memorial at the site, and are now feeling pressure to shelve the designs.
Critics say that public discussion has been limited by Governor Pataki's statement and that the public should have more say in how the space should be honoured and used.
Are Governor Pataki's comments premature? What would you like to see happen at Ground Zero now? What would be a respectful commemoration of victims of 11 September in the heart of a business district? Can the two be combined?
This Talking Point is now closed. Please read a selection of your comments below.
I think a key point is that 2,000 bodies were never recovered in the destructive energy of the collapse. Families deserve a place to go which represents a place of healing. The area is huge and there should be room to build a grand tower peaked with a cross, a star of David, and a crescent moon, in defiance to Al-Qaeda's vision that people of different religious faiths cannot live together.
Sunny Singh, India (living in New York)
I lost many friends and acquaintances but building a park or memorial doesn't appeal┐ I want a structure of defiance, not something that's going to make me weep every time I see it. We all need to move on, which I am sure is what the victims themselves would want. I like the idea of a sports complex, though I'm not sure the area is big enough for a stadium. The transportation infrastructure is still there (subway, ferries and buses). The area would become a "destination" again.
I don't think anything should replace the twin towers but if it does it should be something small not tall because if it is tall it could happen again
Nothing can compare to this incident which makes the decision difficult but to see the Towers rebuilt (safer and it can be done) would lift up our spirits and send a statement to those who would do such deeds that the free democratic people have a strong spirit and foundation that cannot be brought down by a group who only live for hate.
I think there should be an international memorial for
everybody, who has died in terrorist attacks
and in human made disasters.
Maybe they could landscape a beautiful park with a memorial statue?
JS, NYC, USA
Does this boil down to property developers wanting the money or the families wanting respect?
Mr Pataki's comments are foolish and aimed at headline grabbing. The Americans rebuilt Pearl Harbour; they will also rebuild Ground Zero. And so they should.
The Twin Towers were always hard to fill before this event and after it such tall towers will be even harder as companies won't take a chance again of losing most of their employees, like Cantor Fitzgerald.
Ed Vista, UK
A park should be built with an enormous lake and fountain and in it a platform and outdoor seating to form an arena where leaders can make speeches on the future of world peace.
Of course it should be built on. Commerce is the heart of NY and re-establishing that is the best way to remember the 3,000 dead who were killed there.
It seems a bigger insult to me to assume that people will forget, or fail to show the appropriate respect without the construction of a tacky, and frankly wasteful, memorial site. People will always remember 11 September. A plaque on the entrance of any new buildings constructed should be a reminder enough of that day.
Phil, N. Ireland
The terrorists would love it if we were to leave a big open wound there to cry about forever. The victims would probably have wanted us to put those buildings back exactly as they appeared before. Let the world know that murdering fanatics have no place in civilisation. Why should we give them a park?
I think they should build a charitable institute there - allowing global organisations to be housed free of charge. It should be a centre that creates a vivid awareness of the plight of thousands of disadvantaged communities around the world. Tourists should be allowed to visit it to learn about how privileged their lives really are.
There should be something spiritual and positive to come from the tragedy. I suggest that there should be a church, a mosque, a synagogue, a Hindu temple, a Bahai temple, a Sikh gurdwara and a Buddhist shrine within the park and at its centre should be a place of study for those interested in conflict resolution. It could be twinned with the church in the city of London that was damaged by a terrorist bomb and is being converted into a similar centre. The park should be a beautiful place of reflection with a fountain, wall of remembrance (like the Vietnam wall) and a peace pagoda. Homes, businesses and shops could surround the park.
The decision should not be solely down to the governor but to the citizens of New York in a city-wide referendum.
Paul Wood, UK
I commute into midtown every day. I cannot bring myself to go downtown to Ground Zero. I hope they bring some space and trees to the area.
The Twin Towers are gone and as a sign of respect they should never be re-built. A newer, bigger, better building should be built, one that will be environmentally friendly, futuristic and will still look good in another 100 years. The only way now to re-assure people to work in tall buildings is to have no-fly zones around big cities. If you don't have that, who's going to want to work on the 110th floor? I'm not!
I have never felt at ease in a high rise building, but these days I would feel panicky. I wish any developers the best of luck in trying to rent out office space in a similar building.
Brian M Witham, UK
Should it be re-developed? No.
Will it be re-developed? Yes.
Commercialism will always win over sentiment.
Does America really need to build a skyscraper right there? 2,823 people must be turning in their graves at the very thought of rebuilding on their final resting place.
Richard Paynter, England
I was in New York in the first weekend of last September. I spent six magical hours at the World Trade Towers, three of which on the roof, just gazing at the sights and two on the glass-cladded observation/restaurant/shop floor below. Please do not build on the land. Move some business space to the Bronx and Queens if necessary. I am not sure whether any of the staff who served me at the Centre were victims, but if they were, I would feel terrible if I see the land being built on again.
I work above it. I was annoyed at the governor's comments. He has elections coming up this year and the whole thing is a political fighting match.
Tobin Russell Brogunier, USA
I work three blocks away from Ground Zero and have watched businesses struggle to survive or close altogether in the aftermath of 11 September. While a memorial is of utmost importance, we cannot forget the needs of the people who continue to live and work in the area. Governor Pataki seems to be voicing the feelings of the families but not of all New Yorkers and it is simply unfair. Not everyone will be happy with the final plans for the site, but he should make more of an effort to understand the impact of the plans on everyone from the tri-state area and beyond.
Ethically, I think it is a bit presumptuous for anyone but the property owner to decide on what to do with the site. Of course in this case the property is owned by the New York Port Authority but as far as I know, the 99 year lease to Silverstein Properties is still in effect, as well as their $9 million a month rent obligation. Maybe it would be more appropriate if those who do not want to see any rebuilding of the site to put there money where their mouth is, and buy out Silverstein on the lease.
They ought to raise four towers on each corner, and connect them at alternating levels with skyways. Terrorists take down two, we build four. The middle area could then be a vast memorial site. Many New Yorkers I talk to agree the site should be built on with some public space and some commercial relief.
As an American I truly appreciate the overall support from abroad on rebuilding on the site. It's a much better memorial to why those innocent people died to re-build on that site. Show the terrorists they cannot stop peaceful trade and the people who help it to grow. Thank you world, for your support.
What is the point in rebuilding? Surely this just gives the terrorists a symbolic target to hit over and over again.
As a born and bred New Yorker, I strongly agree with Pataki's statement.
The towers were, and are, in the blood and bones of every New Yorker. To build on top of the site, and in a sense forgetting it, is so typical of the American attitude of replacing. Yes, it is the most valuable real estate in NYC, but for once it would be nice if we could think about a higher cause than the almighty dollar.
Most of the victims' families want a memorial park and since the majority of them have no body or gravesite to visit, I think we should give it to them.
Martin, New York
The loss of lives was catastrophic but to suggest a memorial park is preposterous. There have been many terrorist attacks all over the world, but getting on with life and rebuilding it is the only way forward. What would these people suggest happens to Afghanistan now that the war is over (ignoring the fact that aerial bombardment by the US is ongoing)? Should Afghanistan and other war-ravaged countries dedicate the land for ginormous memorial parks?
An estimated 50 million people died in World War II, including hundreds on thousands during the London and Berlin bombing raids. It did not stop the world from rebuilding. What happened in New York was unthinkable and the world should never forget, however rebuilding the site is a far better reminder than building nothing at all.
Sue Proud, England
The terrorists ripped the heart out of one of the world's great cities. To leave it like that is only to remember destruction and death, and to deny hope and re-growth. Besides, the people who died lived their lives for capitalism and commerce. What better memorial than a bigger, better World Trade Center?
I trust New Yorkers to get it right.
The space could effectively become a peace garden. Creating waterfalls with lush vegetation that offer visitors a place for quiet reflection in a soothing sanctuary surrounded by the chaos of the bustling city is the most fitting use of the land.
Governor Pataki can't dictate that some of the most valuable real estate in the world can't be put to it best possible use by its owners for sentimental reasons. As an act of defiance to terrorists, a single new sky scraper, the largest and tallest in the world, 220 stories tall and ten times the volume of the combined two towers that were destroyed should be constructed. It will be a symbol of the unconquerable spirit of Americans.
It's up to the people of course, but I think the new building(s) should contain an arboretum and represent an everlasting remembrance to all those who died in subsequent terrorist attacks around the world as well as all those who lost their lives on 11 September.
Richard Hawley, UK
I would like to see a garden with reflecting pools in the footsteps of the original WTCs. However, I would also like to see the redevelopment of neighbourhood with the building or renovation of smaller buildings that include housing, hotels, shops and restaurants.
I thought the idea of the two piers, or the light sculpture, were striking, haunting and beautiful. A boring old garden of remembrance would never cut the mustard.
I'm not normally sentimental, but I think they should put a garden or park in there instead of more buildings. On a purely practical level, I shouldn't think that there would be too many people who would want to work on the site, which is, in effect, a graveyard. Let it rest in peace.
A memorial garden. Office workers would have somewhere else to have their lunch. And life histories of some of the more remarkable of the victims could be set out on noticeboards.
A giant 200-foot statue of Bush standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world.
Why not? What a more defiant stand to these lunatics than to show life still goes on!
I think they should build a remembrance park to include a monument as breathtaking as the twin towers that once stood.
Janine, US in UK
If it does become a memorial, why not ask the families of the 3,000+ innocent people ('non-combatants') killed in Afghanistan if they would like to be represented there too?
The world is changing. With modern telecommunications there is no need to pack office workers together in overcrowded and expensive city centres. I suspect that 11 September may have overcome many organisations' inertia of continuing to do things the way it's always been done. There is a certain irony if the terrorists manage to move the US business community to a more efficient and productive mode of operation faster that they would have changed on their own.
I don't think it is prudent for the governor to be announcing that they will not be building on the site. He represents the people of NY and should take all public opinion into consideration by holding some form of forum.
To leave a giant hole in the New York skyline unfilled? This almost seems like a tribute to the terrorists that created it. It certainly isn't what I would expect of America, especially New Yorkers. The best possible tribute to the victims of 11 September would be a new centre for world trade; bigger and better than before, and a symbol of defiance towards terrorism.
A memorial to the 24,000 Third World people who die daily as a direct result of poverty; or perhaps the 6,000 children who die of diarrhoea.
Something that resembles war cemeteries (I think they have one at Arlington) with a wall and the names of the dead. A place where a remembrance service can be held once a year every 11 September.
Stuart Kelly, Scotland, UK
How could you possibly build and work on the site of such destruction and where so many people met such desperate deaths? Imagine going back to where your mother died to find its now a kebab or adult lingerie shop. God pray that the land is used wisely for the people involved and not the money. Above all, that it's used with dignity.
Teri, UK: On that basis London, Coventry, Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Rotterdam and hundreds of other towns and cities would still be ruins.
Time moves on and at some point a memorial or building will appear on that site.
This is some of the world's most valuable business real estate. Whilst the sentiment of never building on the site is laudable, I expect that as memories fade and financial issues rise inevitably to the fore we will once again see commercial interests appear on the site.
It should be up to the people of New York and the victims' families. But I hope it's something like a memorial garden, and not just more offices or shops.
Maybe they should make a remembrance park with grass, flowers, fountains and benches so that the busy people of the area have a place to sit amid greenery and have a bit of peace from the hustle-bustle of the working day.
Following on from Antony's comments - the WTC is next to the peace of Battery Park and the waterfront. So a garden isn't going to add much, especially when surrounded by skyscrapers, and the chaos of downtown Manhattan.
A better use may be to build some offices on the land, however have a large lobby (eg, the entire lower floor) as a memorial. The height of any building is immaterial; they can become a target no matter what the size.
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