I’m thinking of a number.

With the dog days upon us and the first legitimate heat wave about to break, that means it’s time for everyone’s favorite season: September 11th Memorialization Contrempts! This year’s model doesn’t break much new ground, the singular complaint being the decision to move the ceremony from Ground Zero proper to A Park Across the Street. It has a proper name, but I think they write it on a chalkboard (I swear it’s been named five things in the past decade), and it is mostly paved. You know the space — the long swath of concrete that dips down from Broadway to Liberty and mostly looks like a really wide street with poor markings.

The relocation has to do with the fact that Ground Zero, at long last, is a construction site. A group that purports to represent the interest of the Families is opposed to moving the ceremony, and applied for a permit for another ceremony, presumably on Ground Zero — it’s interesting such formal language was used here. Does the PANYNJ have an actual, pre-existing form for this? Did they use the new parade permits?

The Port of course rejected the request, but agreed to stop construction for the day. An unacceptable compromise, I’m sure the families will say. I guess in the interest of sensitivity, no one asked the obvious question: okay, so maybe it’s fair to complain this year, when the actual construction work is focused on the tower portion of the site, even though to anyone involved in the building trades, the notion that only a corner of the site is ‘under construction’ is absurd. But what are they going to say when the actual Memorial construction is underway? Every square foot of dirt is sacred and all, but they did agree to and support the memorial design, and eventually some concrete is getting poured there. Are they really expecting to engineer the construction plan so that it will be practical and possible to have people clambering all over a live construction site to hold the memorial?

As of late this afternoon, the latest word is that the planned memorial will be moved closer to Ground Zero — ‘within sight’ of it, though Zuccotti Not-Park is about as close as one can get. Expect more posturing over the next couple weeks.

Also recently noted was a subtle, unannounced renaming of the Freedom Tower. The Port Authority has taken to calling it “1 World Trade Center, the Freedom Tower” (which rolls off the tongue about as elegantly as “Frederick P. Rose Hall Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center” — located in the Time Warner Center). It is admirable we have begun to jettison the sad spectacle of forced symbolism, though I suspect this might also cause issues with the families. The September 11th attacks destroyed all of the World Trade Center (Buildings 1-7), though anyone who visited it regularly could only readily identify 1WTC and 2WTC (the Twin Towers), and 7WTC (just because it was tall), and even though most people didn’t know which was 1WTC or 2WTC. Buildings 3-6, I doubt even people who worked in them could keep them straight. Naming the new tower ‘1’ again does two things: presumes to replace the lost tower, and ignores the other.

Since we aren’t replicating the Towers, enumeration is an interesting problem of signification. One approach would be 3WTC, which would acknowledge the absence of first two, a fact affirmed by the voids in the memorial. Since 7WTC is already complete, it’s perhaps awkward. And there is the fact that there was a 3WTC. So 8WTC is not so elegant (lesser than 7WTC in name, and by all this logic 7WTC should be renamed).

Clearly, there is some real estate marketing at work as well. Even with thousands of government employees being volunteered to patriotically work in the Building That is Still Being Named, there are concerns about it’s commercial viability. And the machinations developers go through to prefix their projects with a one make Chinese number superstitions seem quaint. You don’t think it’s effective? Just look at One Hudson Square. If, you know, you can find it.

And if the ‘It’s Number One!’ doesn’t sway you, this sexy, sexy rendering certainly will. Released just today, it is intended to assuage fears that the base will be 15 stories of opaque, security fetishized Logan’s Runchitecture. Turns out we are all just being nattering nabobs, because the main entrance is going to be a ‘celebrated’ 60 feet of glass that looks down on the memorial plaza. Take that! And take a bombproof wall that is, um, 55 or so feet tall, and put it, well, four feet inside of that glorious expanse of glass. There will be slits to admit light (David, call them oculi — it will sound better when presenting it to credulous undergrads) and illuminate the opaque wall above security. Classy. Maybe they can paint a big ‘1’ there.

I didn’t really end up on a number that made sense, given all these variables. You could simply call it “The World Trade Center”. Because if you want to come up with something to replace the ‘Freedom Tower’ is needs to be easy to say. No one is going to say 1WTC when they can say ‘Freedom Tower’. Maybe they can just point.

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