Thursday, August 16, 2012

Butt-Fugly Public Art of the Week-- August 16th

Unnamed 9/11 Memorial

Schuylkill Banks just south of Chestnut Street Bridge

              Well, we all knew something like this was coming. For the last 10 years, pieces of the World Trade Center have been sold by the NY/NJ Port Authority for use as memorials in cities, towns, and villages across America. Supposedly, over 400 memorials have been created from the structural steel of the WTC. This doesn't really make any single piece of WTC steel special-- yet here we are, a brand new not-yet-dedicated 9/11 memorial using structural steel in Philadelphia in 2012.
             Worse yet, its in the Schuylkill River Park/Trail, one of the city's best amenities. The first time I saw this thing, I didn't know it was a 9/11 memorial.. I had seen it from the Chestnut Street Bridge and that little flag wasn't there. From that vantage-point, it just looks the pedestal for some unfinished piece of public art.

From the Chestnut Street Bridge.
               Only when you get close to it do you know what the fuck its for. Its a sad piece... a short girder of steel sinking into a granite slab with the names of some locals who died in the incident. That's pretty much it.
              Look, I'm not saying that a 9/11 Memorial should be this big bombastic ostentatious thing with penises everywhere, but anything's gotta be better than this.. especially since there's so many similar memorials elsewhere. On their website, the Schuylkill River Development Corp says that they had acquired the steel and had the memorial designed by the Wells Appel firm.

Pics from the Schuylkill Banks website showing construction of the memorial.
                   But that's not all... there's ANOTHER 9/11 Memorial in the works for Philly, and yet AGAIN it will be using structural steel from the WTC. This one will take up the southeast corner of Franklin Square and will be a great clash of two cliches-- steel from the WTC and yet another depiction of the Liberty Bell.

Rendering from the Philly 9/11 website.
                    In this one, the pedestal will be a giant Pennsylvania keystone shape with steel from the WTC, limestone from the Pentagon, and soil/stone from the PA crash site. The towers will be depicted in stone. In the middle will be a half-size replica of the Liberty Bell. The crack of the bell will be filled with WTC Steel. A non-profit called Philly 9/11 is in the midst of collecting donations for the memorial, calling the concept "Mending Liberty". I don't know how long they've been trying to get this built, but their website looks like it was made on 9/12.
                 As corny as the Philly 9/11 version of a memorial seems, its leaps and bounds more interesting than that single short piece of steel on a granite pedestal at the Schuylkill Banks. The Philly 9/11 website also says that the piece's design is subject to change-- so hopefully it changes alot. The victims of 9/11 deserve a proper memorial in Philadelphia, lets hope we get a better one some time soon. 


  1. I agree that the proposed memorial looks much more interesting. I don't understand why Philadelphia needs 2 memorials to the same event.

    1. Especially since Philadelphia wasn't the site of any attacks. Sure, there were several victims from the area and the whole country was affected, but it's kind of inappropriate for Philadelphia to be building a second memorial that is relatively large. Plus, the keystone base is completely irrelevant, and seems to suggest Pennsylvania supremacy. Really, the modest granite podium with the steel piece is appropriate and sufficient enough.