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9/11 Memorial Tiles Unveiled at Village Library

By Andrea Swalec | January 8, 2013 2:57pm

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Dozens of the 9/11 memorial tiles that hung on a fence in the Village from the days after the terrorist attack until last September can now be found inside a public library on Sixth Avenue.

September 11th Families' Association president Lee Ielpi, City Council speaker Christine Quinn and other elected officials presented a new display of the ceramic tiles at the Jefferson Market Library Tuesday morning, calling the exhibit a reminder of the goodwill felt in Greenwich Village after Sept. 11.

"In remembering, we remember not only all of the loss and all of the pain, but also all of the people who came together," Quinn said, standing in front of the tiles, which hang on a stretch of silver fencing in the lobby of the library at 425 Sixth Ave., near West 10th Street. 

Ielpi, a West Village resident who said he used to pass the memorial tiles every day at their former location at Seventh Avenue South and Greenwich Avenue, said he was pleased the tiles were back on display after being removed in September to make way for an MTA ventilation plant.

"To keep the memory alive, we had to do something with these tiles," he said.

Ielpi also said that many of the thousands of tiles, some of which were taken by the September 11th Families' Association, have gone missing.

"We don't know where the other ones are," he acknowledged.

Asked about any plans to retrieve missing tiles, Quinn said stakeholders want the tiles back but she was not specific about efforts to do so.

"In the long run, we want to get as many back as possible," she said.

Ceramist Lorrie Veasey made the first Tiles for America on Sept. 12, 2001, in her former 11th Street shop Our Name Is Mud, according to the project's website. People worldwide then contributed tiles to the project.

In August, a group of volunteers who maintained the tiles proposed the creation of a storefront museum on Greenwich Avenue that would display them, but the group did not raise sufficient funds to do so, according to the Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association of America, which previously managed the tiles.

Designs for the MTA building at the former tile site show the tiles permanently embedded in rows on the exterior of the building.