In lower Manhattan, especially today when President Obama was in town to lay a wreath, the world’s media was fast talking about Ground Zero. Very few call it the World Trade Center. The GZ term is so widely used that few think twice about it.
And yet, just yesterday, a contingent of men and women responsible for rebuilding the World Trade Center braved the cold rain for a conference hosted by the Building Trade Employers Association (BTEA) and found themselves struck on the semantics of just those words. The event brought together the builders and suppliers of the 16 acre site for an update on building progress. Very little was said about the momentous events of the past week or the impending presidential visit, which, like the rain, was going to slow down work. This was a group with a singular focus: rebuilding.
BTEA President and CEO Louis Coletti introduced speakers who in turn discussed a particular aspect of the project. But when one speaker referred to One World Trade as “the Freedom Tower,” Chris Ward, the executive director of the Port Authority grimaced, held up his index finger to signify the number one and said, “It’s One World Trade.”
With the event over, the room cleared. In the elevator down, a deputy informed Ward that the Daily News had twice reported that the president would be visiting “The Pit” on Thursday. Ward rolled his eyes, clearly exacerbated.
So what’s in a name? Well, if you had attended as many community meetings as Ward, you’d know. At one community meeting he attended in February, the residents of downtown Manhattan reiterated that they were tired of the 9/11 terminology used to describe their neighborhood. The memorial fountains have been in place for almost a year now. “The Pit” has been filled and trees are taking root. It’s a memorial, not a pit. It’s One World Trade, not the politically charged “Freedom Tower.” And it’s the World Trade Center, not Ground Zero.