9/11, 13 years later: The Sphere

September 11th, 2001 is remembered as one of the most tragic days in modern American history. Thirteen years ago the WTC’s North Tower was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46 a.m. and the South Tower was hit by Flight 175 at 9:03 a.m. The South fell at 9:59 a.m.; the North at 10:28 a.m. 
 2,753 people died. 
The terrorist attacks also destroyed an important segment of America's cultural and historical legacy. Public spaces and private offices of the World Trade Center were filled with works of art by hundreds of artists, including  Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró,Auguste Rodin and Le Corbusier.
The only work of art in or around the World Trade Center that survived the inferno of September 11, 2001, is the monumental fountain sculpture “The Sphere”. 
The sculpture was built by the German sculptor Fritz Koenig, professor of art at the Technical University of Munich. Koenig had been working on the sculpture in his barn in Bavaria from 1967-1971 while the WTC was in the planning stages. The sculpture, 25 feet tall and weighing 45,000 pound, was oofficially titled Große Kugelkaryatide (Great Spherical Caryatid). 
 The artwork was meant to symbolize world peace through world trade, and was placed at the center of a ring of fountains. 
 The Sphere had been in the center of the World Trade Center Plaza for three decades. Thirteen years ago the sculpture was damaged by debris from the airliners that were crashed into the buildings and from the collapsing skyscrapers themselves. A month after, in October 200,1 Koenig booked a flight to New York City. ''I came to New York to say farewell,'' he said, to pay a last visit to what he calls ''my biggest child." 


 ''A German poet once wrote that you don't know the meaning of a person's life until his death,'' -Koenig continued: "That is also true of art. The meaning of this artwork is that art, like civilizations, are not immortal. They are just as fragile and vulnerable as human beings....But what can you say about this disaster that took so many lives? Sometimes it is better not to talk.'' Koenig is the author of the monument to the victims of the terrorist attack at the Olympic Games in 1972 that was erected in the Munich Olympiapark in 1995. He also designed memorials to those who died at the Nazi death camp at Mauthausen in Austria. 
In 2002, when the prospect of a proper memorial at "Ground Zero" was still a long way away, following a documentary film about the sculpture, the sculpture was moved to Battery Park where it became a memorial with an eternal flame. 

Almost 13 years after the World Trade Center attacks, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened on May 21. The very first display in the new museum's exhibition is dedicated to the Sphere, with photos of it before and after 9/11. They show it gleaming in the center of the plaza between the two towers, and, in a photo dated September 27, 2001, they show it standing alone and damaged in the ruins. 


 On the eve of the anniversary of the terror attacks by Al Qaeda there are additional terror threats being pursued by the president, the NYPD commissioner and other security professionals working for New York’s safety. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 47 percent of Americans say the country is less safe now than before the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. 

Today politicians, families of those who died in the attacks and other dignitaries will gather near 9/11 museum to observe moments of silence and hear recitations of nearly 3,000 victims' names. 

The only ceremony open to the general public is at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, which marks the site where one of the four airliners crashed.  But the Battery Park with “The Sphere” is open for everybody. 
Never Forgive. Never Forget.