Towering Euphemisms at Ground Zero


It’s anybody’s guess whether and when the latest version of the Freedom Tower will be built, but the folks involved in it constructed an impressive edifice of spin at Wednesday’s unveiling of the new plans.

Comparing the rushed Tower redesign to the hasty reworking of the city’s Olympic bid, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it “shows how our City is able to respond to the opportunities and challenges of our time.” One could also say that it shows how our City is able to launch unworkable plans in the first place, but that wasn’t really in the spirit of yesterday’s event.

After all, LMDC chair John Cahill actually told the audience, “Since September 11, Governor George Pataki has been a source of leadership to our state, to our city, and to our nation.” Among other things, this seemed to imply that Pataki had failed to provide leadership on a global or intergalactic level.

When Pataki rose to speak, he noted that, “A few months back we received a setback” in the form of a warning from the NYPD that the earlier design was vulnerable to a truck bomb attack. Now, the gov said, the Freedom Tower will be built to “the highest possible security standards.” Lucky thing that, because that suggests the earlier design wasn’t built to those standards, even though Pataki said when it was first unveiled that “The design calls for a modern, safe and environmentally innovative office tower that will reaffirm Lower Manhattan’s place as the financial capital of the world.”

And what if you threw a financial capital of the world and nobody came? Developer Larry Silverstein admitted yesterday that he had no tenants yet either for the Freedom Tower or the new 7 World Trade Center. But “the package of incentives passed by the government has had a major impact of the level of interest,” he said. “The phones haven’t stopped ringing.”