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World Trade Center (site of)

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Office and trade complex destroyed on 9/11/2001

Place Details

Place Matters Profile

The nominations of the World Trade Center to the Census of Places that Matter were made after the Trade Center was attacked and destroyed on September 11, 2001. Thousands of people died in terror attacks that day in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and in the airplanes that were used as weapons.

In New York, among the things that distinguished public response to the attacks were numerous public gatherings, and the creation of hundreds of shrines, memorials, and other vehicles for sharing grief and anger. City Lore, a co-sponsor of the Place Matters project, and photographer Martha Cooper, documented the spontaneous memorial-making in places all over the city. The places ranged from formal public spaces like Union Square, to fire houses in all five boroughs, to tenement walls in the Bronx, to a patch of land underneath the Pulaski Bridge. These photographs, and many other stories and artifacts from the months immediately following the attacks, were shown at the New York Historical Society in the spring of 2002, collectively called Missing: Streetscape of a City in Mourning.


Susanna Aaron

I can think of no better memorial of the tragic events of September 11th than the shell of the ruined tower of the World Trade Center. I believe it should be preserved, and after the clean-up of the area is complete, returned to its original site to honor the memory of those who perished there. The shell of the building became an icon as America sat glued to its television sets following the story of September 11th. A landmark in its original state, it has become a landmark as a ruin as well. There is nothing more evocative than the site of it to bring us back to all the feelings of that day.

Barbara Britton

Regarding the “Survivors’ Staircase,” it is disturbing to think that, in the rush to capitalize on the real estate value of lower Manhattan & the World Trade Center site, that this tragically significant remnant would be considered to be “in the way” of “progress”. The meaning that this staircase has, to so many people, and to New York, surely should outweigh whatever ‘inconvenience’ it poses to the developers. (April 2007)

Margaret Hayden

The Survivor Stair is the only remaining in-situ above ground element of the World Trade Center and was used as an escape route by hundreds of people fleeing the catastrophe on September 11, 2001. After 9/11, workers spent months clearing debris and ultimately readying the site for new buildings. Through all that, one structure stands as the only remnant of the original World Trade Center, a staircase that hundreds of people used as an escape route onto Vesey Street on the morning of September 11, 2001. It’s located on Vesey St., between West and Church Streets.

The Stair is a symbol of hope and survival in the midst of disaster and stands as a memorial to those who lived through the terrible events of September 11th. It is a symbol not only of their experience but of New York’s endurance and perseverance as a city.

Current plans for the future of Ground Zero do not include keeping the Survivor Stair in place. But the fact that the Stair still remains intact and in its original location immensely enhances its value as a memorial to the survivors of September 11th. If the stair remains where it is now, it will have much greater meaning to future visitors to the site who will be able to stand in exactly the spot where so many survivors found safety. To move the Survivor Stair would be to greatly compromise this experience and to undermine what has the potential to be a powerful symbol of hope and perseverance on the site of the tragedy. (January 2007)

Priscilla Hoffman

The staircase is a real reminder, memento, treasure from the WTC. I’M NOT AT ALL IMPRESSED BY MUCH OF WHAT IS PLANNED TO MEMORIALIZE 9/11. This is a real piece of history–not something put together by committee. (February 2007)

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