New Yorkers rush to finish World Trade Center memorial

15/08/11

Ground Zero from the air

On 11 September it will be exactly a decade since al-Qaeda flew passenger jets into the New York skyscrapers, the Twin Towers.

A third plane crashed into America's military headquarters the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a field when passengers tried to overpower their hijackers.

Nearly 3,000 people died and much of Manhattan's financial district was reduced to rubble and twisted metal.

It all means hundreds of construction workers now face the biggest deadline of their lives.

Much of the site is set to reopen in less than a month, on the attack's 10th anniversary, as a memorial to those who died.

'Tears'

"That is going to be a special day," said Chris Powers, one of the workmen getting things finished.

The memorial in numbers

    • 2,983 - Names of victims listed on the memorial
    • 8,151 - Tons of structural steel used in the memorial and museum
    • 49,900 - Cubic yards of concrete used
    • 30 - Feet in height of the memorial waterfalls
    • 485,919 - Gallons of water held in each memorial pool

Chris runs KC Fabrications, the company that made and installed dozens of bronze plaques.

Each plaque has names of 11 September victims cut into them, as well as the names of people killed in a separate attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.

He and his team have spent months finishing off each one, painstakingly, and often by hand.

"I've had fabricators in my shop. You'd see tears in their eyes," he said.

"They would cry. You're looking at names. You're focusing on names all day."

Giant pools

"There's no other construction site in the world like this," he added.

Joe Daniels at memorial site
Image caption There are now two pools where the Twin Towers stood in New York

"There probably never will be."

The plaques are set around two giant pools with waterfalls, sitting in the spots where the towers once stood.

"This memorial is about the absence of the people that we lost that day," says director of the project Joe Daniels.

"The way they are remembered is by marking the very footprints where the two Twin Towers stood."

The first members of the public to be allowed in, on 11 September itself, will be family and loved ones of those who died.

'Crazy emails'

It opens to everyone else the following day.

"The public hasn't set foot on this site in 10 years," said Joe. "It's going to be very special for a lot of people."

Workers at memorial site
Image caption Construction workers are putting the finishing touches to the memorial site

He adds that one of his hardest jobs as director has been trying to deal with complaints from family members, politicians and other interested groups.

"One of the new experiences of this job has been the crazy emails and phone calls over the years," he said.

"But the vast majority of people appreciate the effort that thousands of others are putting in to memorialise those that were lost.

"The 2,983 people did what we do every single day," he added.

"They got up in the morning and went to work.

"It could have been any one of us. That's part of the message of the memorial."