Thursday, May 05, 2005

Will Someone Have the Courage to Kill Off the Freedom Tower?

The ridiculous-looking Freedom Tower, the much-vaunted "replacement" for the World Trade Center in New York, faces new and costly redesign to protect it from truck bombs. It's way past time to kill this misbegotten thing off and replace it with what should by rights be there - new Twin Towers, built to an improved and more secure design. MSNBC's David Shuster has been supporting such a move for some time:

Two nights ago, shortly after writing in this space about the latest debacles surrounding the "freedom tower," my in-box got jammed with e-mails from hundreds of you expressing your rage and indignation at New York Governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Ground Zero developer Larry Silverstein. Nearly all of you wrote that the Freedom Tower is an embarassment and that America wants the Twin Towers back.

Jeff wrote that rebuilding them would be "a design for the ages, simultaneously telling future generations the story of 9-11 and of America's determination." Sean wrote, "It is shameful that the Twin Towers were not rebuilt immediately." Damir wrote that the newer, safer, stronger Twin Towers, "would illustrate such a powerful American spirit. Man, I get emotional just thinking about it." Maureen wrote about the absence of the Twin Towers and said, "my heart aches... for what the image of America has become."

Many of you asked what you could do to change things. Tonight, for a moment, it seemed part of the battle had been won. I received a call from a friend at another broadcast organization who said, "Did you hear the news? Governor Pataki just announced the freedom tower project has been suspended." It sounded like the entire freedom tower project was being shelved and that common sense and political smarts had finally entered Governor Pataki's mind.

I should have known better. When I finally reached a computer, the AP headline was, "New York Governor: Freedom Tower must be redesigned because of security concerns." The article went on to say that Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein met at Pataki's Manhattan office late this afternoon. While details of their meeting were not released, the trio supposedly addressed a NYPD report last week which found that the location in the pit where the Freedom Tower is planned is too close to two major thoroughfares (and would therefore be vulnerable to truck bombs.) The Pataki quote tonight was, "We believe that a building that meets the NYPD standards can be built consistent with architect Daniel Liebeskind's master site plan." In other words, Pataki and co. think the "problem" with the Freedom Tower can be solved by building the tower in a different part of Ground Zero.

Hello? Earth to Governor Pataki. You can't place the building in a different location. The entire area has to be redesigned. Remember, the site includes the footprints of the Twin Towers that were destroyed, a memorial area, and part of the original pit. In addition, there are "line of sight" issues with the Statue of Liberty. Everybody in New York knows this. Almost everybody also knows the reason most Americans hate the "Freedom Tower" is because it bears no resemblance to the Twin Towers. The issue is simple. If the Freedom Tower is on the table, the terrorists win. Why? Because holding on to Governor Pataki's Freedom Tower means America's enemies will have a gaping hole in New York to admire for at least another 5 years. Then, assuming the tower actually gets built in 5 years (want to bet?) America will unveil a "feeble tower." Why "feeble?" Because in this bizarre windmill/birdcage topped building... human beings will only be able to go as high as the 75th floor. That's right. The building may technically reach 1,776 feet... but that's counting the contraption on top (something that engineers say can't be built anyway.) So, even in the end, the best view of the Statue of Liberty will not be from Governor Pataki's tower... it will be from one of a dozen other office or apartment buildings in Manhattan.

No kidding. That cretinous looking pile is a well-known joke, a 75 story building more suited for Columbus than New York City and an advertisement to al Queda that they won and we are now going to go hide.

Polls show that Americans want the Twin Towers resurrected. A group is ready with plans. Let's lay the misbegotten "Freedom Tower" to rest and give New York her skyline back.

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