The "Sphere" at its current location in Battery Park.
The "Sphere for Plaza Fountain," which managed to survive 9/11.

Art

7.28.2016

After 14 Years, The Statue That Survived 9/11 Is Coming Home

Fritz Koenig’s “Sphere for Plaza Fountain,” the massive, bronze and steel sculpture that was once flanked by the World Trade Center’s twin towers, will soon be returning to the neighborhood. After being badly damaged during the September 11th terrorist attacks, the 25-ton, 25-foot-high sculpture was removed from the area and relocated to the nearby Battery Park in 2002. There, it served as an “interim memorial” for the largest terrorist attack in U.S. history, and a symbol of hope for New York City. More than a decade later, the “Sphere” is coming home—or at least, as close to home as possible.

Following the September 11th attacks, workers extracted a Bible, an airline seat, and papers from one of the many offices in the twin towers from the dented, perforated “Sphere.”

“[The ‘Sphere’] now has a different beauty, one I could never imagine,” said Koenig after the sculpture was relocated to Battery Park in 2002. “It has its own life—different from the one I gave to it.” Nonetheless, Koenig wasn’t happy with the relocation.

After the September 11th attacks, a Bible, airplane seat, and papers from a nearby office were all found inside the "Sphere."
After the September 11th attacks, a Bible, airplane seat, and papers from a nearby office were all found inside the “Sphere.”

“He was not happy with the placement in Battery Park,” Stefanje Weinmayr, spokesperson for the Fritz and Mari Koenig foundation, told the New York Times. “The possibility of a better location electrified him.”

A lot has changed in the 14 years since the “Sphere” was relocated from its original home, the center of the Austin J. Tobin Plaza. For starters, the location no longer exists. The site where the sculpture once stood is now the center of Greenwich Street, which was restored after the September 11th attacks. Unless the NYC Department of Transportation is cool with some seriously disrupted traffic, there’s no way the sculpture can return to its precise original spot.

The "Sphere" in its original location, Austin J. Tobin Plaza.
The “Sphere” in its original location, Austin J. Tobin Plaza.

In 2011, an advocacy group called Save the Sphere, which was founded by the families of 9/11 victims, created a petition to incorporate the sculpture into the National September 11th Memorial Museum. Although they were unsuccessful in doing so—its re-relocation, back to its original home at Ground Zero, means it can’t be part of the official memorial—the group is content with its new location.

“Though not the memorial plaza it is Ground Zero. And it is a handsome spot where the Sphere might act as a sentinel of peace, strength and resiliency,” the group said in a release on Facebook. “Placed there, it might in a way invoke the peaceful days of the WTC plaza prior to 9/11.”

Stay tuned to Milk for more art news.

Images via Bernt Rostad, FEMA Photo Library.

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