FINANCIAL DISTRICT — A sculpture pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center that became an iconic symbol following the 9/11 attacks is leaving lower Manhattan and headed into storage later this month, officials said.
Fritz Koenig's World Trade Center sphere sculpture — which once anchored the plaza between the Twin Towers and was dented but not destroyed on 9/11 — must leave its home in Battery Park by the end of the month to make way for a new public lawn and bike path, Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy, said Wednesday night.
The Port Authority plans to haul the 25-foot sphere to JFK Airport's Hangar 17, where the agency stores other large 9/11 artifacts, including crushed police cars and warped steel beams, said Pat Kirshner, director of operations and planning for the Battery Conservancy.
"They have until April 30 to remove it," Kirshner said of the Port Authority's contractor.
The Port Authority did not immediately confirm the April 30 deadline.
"We are potentially moving the Koenig Sphere to JFK since Battery Park was never intended to be a permanent home," Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said in an email Wednesday night. "If the sphere is moved to JFK, it would be stored with other WTC artifacts until we, along with other stakeholders, find a permanent home for it."
One possibility the Port Authority privately floated last year was to put the sphere in the future Liberty Park, just south of the 9/11 Memorial, which won't open for another couple of years.
Many 9/11 family members opposed that plan, saying it would be more appropriate to return the sphere to its original location beside the Twin Towers, on what is now the 9/11 Memorial. An online petition demanding the sphere's return to the World Trade Center site gathered more than 7,000 signatures, but Port Authority officials have not warmed to the idea.
Koenig's bronze sphere was installed in Battery Park during an emotional ceremony on March 11, 2002, the six-month anniversary of the attacks, and an eternal flame was lit on Sept. 11, 2002 in memory of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed. The sphere became a symbol of hope and resilience after surviving amid so much destruction.
When Price and Kirshner announced the deadline for the sphere's move at a Community Board 1 meeting Wednesday night, some were sad to hear it was leaving Battery Park.
"It's iconic in its present location," said Ro Sheffe, chairman of CB1's Financial District Committee. "Lots of people come to see it."
But Price said she wants Battery Park to become a vibrant place for the Downtown community to gather, not a permanent 9/11 memorial.
"It's not our story," she said of the sphere.