When the towers of the World Trade Center fell on September 11, 2001, wreckage was strewn across Lower Manhattan. Papers from offices fluttered all the way into Brooklyn. And as cities across the country prepare to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the remnants of the towers are traveling even farther from Ground Zero.
On Tuesday morning, July 26, construction workers installed the centerpiece of the Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Garden, a piece of twisted steel salvaged from the World Trade Center.
“The first time I saw it I said a ‘Hail Mary’ it was so powerful,” Reggie Sully of McCoy Construction said of the beam, which is about 30 feet high and weighs approximately 1,800 pounds.
The memorial garden is being constructed on the grounds of the Beverly Hills Fire Department at the intersection of Rexford Drive and South Santa Monica Boulevard.
Sully estimated the cost of the project at around $400,000, all of which is being covered by private monetary and in-kind donations. Sully, who has been overseeing the work at the site on a daily basis since April, has had his time donated by his construction company’s owner, Peter McCoy.
The beam will stand upright on a base shaped like the Pentagon, which will be inscribed with the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the coordinated terrorist attacks ten years ago. Beside then beam will stand two towers shaped like those of the World Trade Center.
The twisted piece of metal is but a small section of the 13,000 feet of steel that remained of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. When the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced in 2010 that it would make the relics available—free of charge—to any organization that promised to exhibit them publicly (and could pay the cost of shipping), over 1,500 local governments, fire and police departments and other nonprofit groups submitted requests.
The curators of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, now being built at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, got first pick from the remains, which were stored for years in an abandoned hangar at the John F. Kennedy International airport in New York. A cross-shaped section of steel was moved into place at the museum last week.
The remaining relics were all allocated to groups in all 50 states and entities in seven foreign countries—more than 1,100 groups in all—on a first-come, first-served basis. Fifty-three of the pieces are set to be installed as memorials around California.
In Beverly Hills, work is proceeding on schedule for the memorial’s scheduled dedication on September 11, 2011.