Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 Remembrance and an Odd Momento

Has it been ten years? It seems so much more recent. The world has changed and we've become accustomed to the unthinkable.

I remember well the horror of that day and watching it unfurl from almost the first minute. My complete disbelief when the first tower fell and the awful realization of how many people were probably still in the building. A Canadian friend was visiting and I don't think we could tear ourselves away from the news for at least 24 hours. Such a sad day.

You see, I knew those towers very well. I was included in several meetings with the architects, discussing the incredible engineering which would allow almost open floorplans. I first saw the site while they were constructing the "bathtub". Then those towers began to rise. Wearing a hard hat, I visited the towers while they were under construction. I talked to the steel workers who were so proud that they were constructing something far beyond any ordinary skyscraper strength or actual requirements. The steel would withstand anything, or so they thought! I rode up to the 112th floor on a freight elevator that had a gap of a couple of feet from the floor level. You had to swing the elevator and jump off when it neared the floor. Wow! And when I say 112th floor, it was the top of the building plus another level, then the elevator finished on top of that platform and you walked down some steps. There were no guardrails on the building. You were above the clouds and any airplanes. You were even above the wind. It was the tallest building in the world then.

Now here is a momento. My permanent pass to the observation deck on top of one of the towers. For myself and my "guests". I lived in Paris when it was issued. And it is signed by the president of the World Trade Centers, Guy Tozzoli, who added the "permanent" comment. An odd bit of history.

And this was my 4th of July birthday celebrated at Windows on the World with several International World Trade Centers characters, note the ties. Better days.

There was a cocktail party held on the 110th floor for some reason while the building was under construction. Although they had cleared a space, it was still a worksite. It was night with lights rigged. The floor to ceiling windows looked as though they had metal covering them, which I found strange. I walked over and put my hand up to touch the "metal" and my hand went straight through. It was the lights against the clouds outside and not metal at all. You could put a hand on each side of the opening and lean out over the city. It was a long way down. I was also there for the gala opening dinner when Windows on the World absolutely sparkled with tuxedos and ball gowns. Many, many memories tied up with those towers.

Andrea Booher photo for FEMA, note sphere in background
One odd thing I've noticed with all the memorial programs. They refer to a globe that was in the plaza as though it was just a ball of metal. In fact it was a most beautiful sculpture by Fritz Koenig, a huge orb representing world peace through world trade. It was still visible in some of the aftermath photos. I wonder where it finally ended up?*

The memorial garden looks beautiful. I love the footprint fountains and the trees. I hope it will be a peaceful place.

The Sphere is 25 feet high and cast in 52 bronze segments. Koenig considered it his "biggest child". It was put together in Bremen, Germany and shipped as a whole to Lower Manhattan.[1] The artwork was meant to symbolize world peace through world trade, and was placed at the center of a ring of fountains and other decorative touches designed by trade center architect Minoru Yamasaki to mimic the Grand Mosque of Mecca, Masjid al-Haram, in which The Sphere stood at the place of the Kaaba. It was set to rotate once every 24 hours, and its base became a popular lunch spot for workers in the trade center on days with good weather.
At its current location in Battery Park, a plaque alongside The Sphere reads as follows:
For three decades, this sculpture stood in the plaza of the World Trade Center. Entitled "The Sphere", it was conceived by artist Fritz Koenig as a symbol of world peace. It was damaged during the tragic events of September 11, 2001, but endures as an icon of hope and the indestructible spirit of this country. The Sphere was placed here on March 11, 2002 as a temporary memorial to all who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
This eternal flame was ignited on September 11, 2002 in honor of all those that were lost. Their spirit and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

1 comment:

Marla said...

I have a photo of the orb that I took on my home from Russia in 2004! Stunning, still.