Like all arch-capitalists, Silverstein is no doubt reassuring himself that he is standing on principle. And, to a great extent, he is. But Silverstein should keep in mind that, although Pataki’s time in office may be short, he himself, at 74, is playing against the clock as well. Last year, he was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “What do I have to show for the last five years of my life? Not very much.” Unless Silverstein swallows his pride and caves—taking something like the deal that the Port Authority offered, which, despite its imperfections, is still pretty sweet for him—he may have little more to show for the next five, too.
For the city, of course, such an outcome would hardly be a tragedy. That ground zero remains a mess nearly five years after 9/11 is an embarrassment, a disgrace. But there is one consolation: More and more, it seems we may be spared a downtown skyline dominated by a monument to bombast that’s a prime target to boot.