St Paul’s Church sits beside “Ground Zero”. A tiny building on Broadway, it is one of the oldest constructions on Manhattan. George Washington worshipped here. Despite being “just across the street” from the World Trade Centre, on September 11th it was not touched. The church and her graveyard were protected by a tree, which was torn from the ground by this disaster.
After the smoke, the church was spontaneously employed as an outpost by the rescuers. Firemen, policemen and construction workers slept in the pews and were treated to massages and foot rubs by volunteers. Today these pews are scratched from the industrial gear that the firemen wore. Even Washington’s pew has noticeable wounds. The church has retained these scars as a permanent memorial.
Today St Paul’s is a gallery of memory. It overflows with Teddy Bears that were sent by children from across the world, cots wait in reminder of where some men slept. Homemade cards are on display. The roots of the tree have been bronzed and remain in the courtyard. There is a hand-stitched banner draped across the nave proudly declaring; “Oklahoma loves you!” Division badges from every unit that served have been collected into a hotchpotch quilt of honour. The time has not been forgotten.
Across the street, the WTC site is still a muddy hole. After years of tendering, lobbying and consultation, construction of The Freedom Tower is finally underway but memorials already exist.
A Beautiful Gesture takes place in London in the wake of a terrorist attack. This play is about rebuilding. It considers memory, chaos and love.
“Architecture is for the young. If our teenagers don’t get architecture – if they are not inspired – we won’t have the architecture that we must have if this country is going to be beautiful.” - Frank Lloyd Wright
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