Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

April 7, 2008

Oh, the Stupidity…Stop the Folly of "Freedom Tower"

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:02 am

A couple of years ago when i was writing for The New York Observer I wrote several columns attacking the folly of “Freedom Tower’ the grandiose idiotic attempt to “memorialize” The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers by building a 1,776 foot high office tower that would instantly become a terrorist magnet, paint a target on all the unfortunate workers and service employees forced by foolish employers to work there.

My feeling about the folly was re enforced when the preliminary plans for the Titanic office tower’s security were criticized by New York City’s Police Department and a new set of plans focussing on “bollards” fire hydrant-sized posts that would presumably foil truck bombers and dubious high tech identity checks like “iris screening” were advanced to give everyone a feeling of security. (Not).

The whole idea was misguided from the start I’d argued. it was not going to be a terrible psychic blow to Osama Bin Laden to see another perfect target rise in place of the Twin Towers. Quite the opposite. It’s not like “the terrorists would win” if we didn’t build it. They’d win if we did, because we’d have to turn all lower Manhattan into a high tech prison to protect it and it would still be vulnerable, and besides, the point was not to memorialize a building (unless you were a greedy real estate developer who’d been awarded billions for that purpose alone). The point was to memorialize the people who were murdered at Ground Zero, not to make some moronic triumphalist self defeating gesture.

I’d always felt that the best memorial for the 9/11 attack was to leave the gaping hole in Ground Zero as the only memorial, the raw earth speaking far more eloquently than any over-praised architect could, of the kind of wound it was. Having just come back from a trip to Hiroshima I was even more aware of the danger of memorializing that served to cover up the horror it supposedly paid tribute to.

But blowhard politicians, opportunistic insurance-funded real estate developers, obscenely vain celebrity architects, and sycophantic reporters (the Esquire series) took no notice of the daily horror of imprisonment “Freedom Tower” would entail for the workers within.

Oh no, the promoters and p.r. men and the gullible writers who sought to lionize them said, it will be a noble work, show the terrorists we have no fear. and won’t be onerous at all for the public who wanted to live, work and visit lower Manhattan.

Well now New York’s Daily News has published some leaked details of the newest security plansfor Freedom Tower that would be laughably pathetic if they weren’t taken seriously by those who made them.

I had compared the original revised security plans to a high tech prison. This new plan will turn all lower Manhattan into Gitmo. Talk about irony. Talk about “letting the terrorists win”. Stop the madness!



  1. I agree so 1000% with everything you have said, & in fact remember writing to you at the Observer about it.
    A blank space, that’s what it should be, with the names on some sort of column.
    Isn’t it dreadful to be a New Yorker who cares fervently about this issue & feels beyond powerless.

    Comment by Susan — April 7, 2008 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

  2. The Time-Warner building is right out of Nuremberg with goons to match

    Comment by charlie finch — April 9, 2008 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  3. I too wrote to you at the Observer for your in-your-face certainty about this topic. I thank you again. One of the best things that could have happened at Ground Zero, well if you don’t work for them, is that Goldman Sachs will be down there. They will never allow Freedom Tower or anything like to come about. They have the clout! And by the way: their building is not pretty! What a shock!

    Comment by Jude — April 10, 2008 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  4. Freedom Tower also makes no economic sense. WTC didn’t either. “Downtown” NY is changing to a mixed-used neighborhood. Wall Street is relocating most of its back offices to New Jersey and beyond. The authorities should restore the original street grid obliterated by the WTC and put moderate-sized buildings (no more than 25 stories high) in there, with due allowance for memorial space. Freedom Tower is a pathetic denial of new economic and political realities.

    Comment by Clarion — April 11, 2008 @ 7:30 am | Reply

  5. Rather than spreading responsibility among (unnamed)* “blowhard politicians, opportunistic insurance-funded real estate developers, obscenely vain celebrity architects, and sycophantic reporters,” why not point the finger at Larry Silverstein? If I understand correctly, and I very well may not, Silverstein has the contractual right guaranteed by his July 2001 lease of the World Trade Center to rebuild the towers should they be destroyed. He also is obliged to continue to pay rent on the empty space. Foremost, it seems that it’s his decision to continue this travesty. If he were to announce that he thinks that the site should be vacant but that he wants the government (city, state, authorities, federal — take your pick) to cover the cost so that he doesn’t take a loss, then it would be on whichever politicians were to stand in the way.

    * Irony noted.

    Comment by Tyrone Slothrop — April 11, 2008 @ 11:06 pm | Reply

  6. Good points Ron and commentors. I would say a park might be nice, maybe a little square or something?

    Comment by Ed — April 13, 2008 @ 12:05 am | Reply

  7. An enterprising friend bought a great apartment near the World Trade Center in 2001, while the dust was still settling there and the police department’s yellow tape wrapped around Wall Street. Now he’s purchasing a building in Rio, where he’ll live half the year, “Thus,” he says, “halving his chances of being obliterated when the Freedom Towers take their next direct hit.”

    Comment by Eva Gutmann — April 13, 2008 @ 8:10 am | Reply

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