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Ground Zero, Gift-Wrapped for the Holidays

Ground Zero, Gift-Wrapped for the Holidays

Dec 09, 2008
By By: David W. Dunlap | New York Times.com | The New York Times

There is nothing unusual about seeing things wrapped in red ribbons and bows at this time of year. But the sight of a 9/11 memorial paving stone decked out for the holidays seems a bit incongruous at first.

The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center is adorning its fund-raising effort with a seasonal theme. For $100, donors can sponsor a “cobblestone” on the memorial plaza. (They are not actually the rounded cobbles of traditional street paving.) A $500 donation buys a paving stone in an open ceremonial space on the plaza; $1,000 buys a granite paving stone on the walkways leading to the memorial itself. The stones will not be inscribed but the gifts will be acknowledged publicly.

“Sponsoring a cobblestone is a meaningful, lasting contribution that offers a positive response to the tragedy,” said Lynn Rasic, a spokeswoman for the memorial, said on Monday. “Cobblestones can be sponsored at any time of year, but around the holidays they make for a special gift in the name of a loved one.” About 11,000 stones have been donated to date, she said.

To permit the public to follow progress at the World Trade Center site, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on Monday that it would offer electronic updates to cellphones, PDAs, pagers or e-mail accounts. It is also inviting the public to ask questions about the transportation hub. They will be answered by Mark Pagliettini, an authority executive with close knowledge of the construction project. The floor is open until Dec. 12.

New scaffolding reinforcement panels can be seen in the center of this photo of the former Deutsche Bank building.

And in a visible sign of progress, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation said on Monday that it had begun removing the facade of the former Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty Street, starting at the 19th floor. Windows, caulking and aluminum sheathing will be taken down, but there will no structural demolition yet.

The building, once 41 stories tall, has been frozen at the 26th floor level since a deadly fire in August 2007 put a temporary end to the deconstuction project and raised many serious questions about how safely it was being conducted. The interior abatement of contaminants from 9/11 and its aftermath resumed in March, employing several hundred workers, but this did not effect the exterior appearance.

“To the casual observer, this will be the first real physical change to the outside of the building,” said David Emil, president of the corporation. “Very gradually, you’ll be able to see through the entire building. Gradually, you’ll realize that there’s nothing inside. What’s going to be here is a skeleton.”

The work is considered part of the abatement project, rather than demolition, Mr. Emil said, since the window caulking was known to contain asbestos.

If all goes according to plan, full demolition might be completed by the end of next summer or early fall. Such a milestone would also be significant in marking the first time any aspect of the beleaguered 130 Liberty Street project had gone according to plan.


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