December 5, 2005

Taking It Back
Thank you for your perceptive article on the Freedom Center–Take Back the Memorial dispute [“The Grief Police,” by Robert Kolker, November 28]. “September 11 fatigue” may well be exacerbated by advocates who (to quote Nikki Stern) “don’t differentiate between being heard and being obeyed.” Our responsibility to our loved ones goes beyond the shape of any particular memorial, beyond being heard on every topic remotely connected to 9/11. It includes the responsible stewardship of their legacy, to use that “moral authority” not selfishly or shortsightedly, but rather to repair the pain, break the cycles of violence and hate, and work for the peace, justice, cooperation, and morality that will really prevent future similar catastrophes. To achieve even a part of that would be my son’s greatest memorial.
—John Leinung, Manhattan

The public planning process produced a design for a respectful memorial as part of a master plan for the WTC site. That should have been the end of the story. Instead, the International Freedom Center has become a historical footnote, the Drawing Center is off the site, the fate of the Snøhetta cultural-center building is uncertain in the wake of McCarthyite claims that it was somehow un-American, the Gehry performing-arts building has been abandoned, a lawsuit has been filed to stop construction of the new path station, and there are even calls to censor adjacent retail development planned for the site. This small group of activists should not be allowed to dictate the design or uses of the WTC site. It is indeed time to take back the memorial.
—Michael Connolly, Manhattan

Robert Kolker asserts that Rudy Giuliani has called for “nothing in perpetuity but a park” at the World Trade Center site. Mayor Giuliani has consistently maintained that the primary purpose of whatever is built at ground zero should be to convey the historical significance of the events of September 11, 2001. As he stated during his farewell address from St. Paul’s Chapel on December 27, 2001, he believes it should include a “a soaring, monumental, beautiful memorial that draws millions of people here who just want to see it, and also those who will want to come here for reading and education and background and research.”
—Sunny Mindel, Manhattan
Communications Director, Giuliani Partners

Urban Detriment
The usually astute Kurt Andersen was woefully off target regarding the enormous Bruce Ratner development in Brooklyn [“The Imperial City: Delirious New York,” November 28]. It’s horribly out of scale with the character of Brooklyn (we’ve long since ceased to view Manhattan as an urban role model), and it will destroy the continuity of three thriving neighborhoods, absorb hundreds of millions of tax dollars with little or no real return, and give Downtown Brooklyn permanent traffic gridlock. Given the truly awful aesthetics and construction quality of his other developments in Brooklyn, Ratner had little choice but to attach the Frank Gehry carrot. Anyone who chases that carrot must also still be looking forward to Daniel Libeskind’s World Trade Center.
—Michael Rogers, Brooklyn

Like Bruce Ratner’s previous developments in Brooklyn, the Atlantic Yards stadium complex is not going to seamlessly merge a new development with an existing and vital cityscape. It seems totally appropriate, then, that Bruce Ratner would choose an architect whose buildings are rootless, equally out of place wherever they are erected, always supplanting on-the-ground urban realities with whimsical promises of a future that never quite arrives. Does Brooklyn need Gehry’s spectacular, megalomaniacal brand?
—Stuart Schrader, Brooklyn

Coffee for ‘le Flâneur’
In response to “Average Joe,” by Stephen Rodrick [November 28]: The best thing about spending $3.50 on a Starbucks Frappucino is that by doing so you are allowed to plant yourself in one of their comfortable chairs for hours on end, in the absence of surly waiters, very much like you do at a Parisian café after ordering “un double crème et une tartine.” At least in Paris, you can also smoke in Starbucks. All in all, I’d rather pay my $3.50.
—Victor Acker, Briarwood, N.Y.

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December 5, 2005