Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a speech on Wall Street Tuesday that construction on the site has made so much progress the name is no longer fitting.
“We will never forget the devastation of the area that came to be known as ‘Ground Zero’ — never,” Bloomberg said as he heralded lower Manhattan’s recovery from 9/11 at an Association for a Better New York breakfast.
“But now, the time has come for us to call those 16 acres what they are: The World Trade Center and the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.”
Far from the smoking pile of rubble that filled the area in the fall of 2001 — or the languishing construction pit in the years that followed — the World Trade Center now holds two rising skyscrapers and an eight-acre memorial set to open this Sunday, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Bloomberg said.
Downtown residents have also long been asking officials to stop calling the World Trade Center “Ground Zero,” saying the moniker denotes the past destruction, rather than the present recovery.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg spoke to frequent applause as he traced the rebirth of the Trade Center site and the broader downtown community, which he called his proudest accomplishment as mayor.
“I believe the rebirth and revitalization of lower Manhattan will be remembered as one of the greatest comeback stories in American history,” Bloomberg said. “And I believe it will stand as our greatest monument to those we lost on 9/11.”
Bloomberg listed some of the figures that illustrate lower Manhattan’s transformation: 4,000 new school seats; 19 new hotels; $260 million in new parks; hundreds of millions of dollars in new infrastructure; and more new residents in the past 10 years than Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia combined.
As people’s thoughts turn toward this Sunday’s anniversary of the attacks, Bloomberg urged people to focus not just on the day of 9/11 itself, but also on the 10 years that have passed since then.
“Let us remember not only the agony and anguish of the attacks, but how we channeled our pain into something positive and powerful,” Bloomberg said.
“Let us remember not only how the towers fell, but how we rose up, determined to defend our freedoms. And let us remember that when we unite as Americans, and when we put patriotism ahead of partisanship, there is no challenge that this country can’t meet.
“That — that — is the ultimate lesson of our past decade.”