By Joseph Iorio and Ashley Germinario, Media Relations Staff, photos by Mike Dombrowski and Catherine DeJesus
After more than 15 years away, the celebrated Koenig Sphere that once stood between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center is back home. It has resettled nicely into the old neighborhood, at a permanent location in Liberty Park not far from its original site.
In a ceremony earlier today to mark its return to the WTC, Port Authority Executive Rick Cotton spoke of what the iconic sphere has meant to the people who visit, work and live within the WTC community over the years.
“As the new World Trade Center began to take shape during the past decade, it became crystal clear that the sphere needed to come home. Today, we rededicate this sphere in its permanent home in Liberty Park, where it will be housed in perpetuity for future generations,” said Cotton, who noted that the Northeast Region of the National Park Service has recommended to the Secretary of the Interior that the sphere be designated a national landmark.
Cotton was joined in offering remarks by Michael Burke, whose brother Capt. William F. Burke, Jr. of Engine Co. 21, died on 9/11; Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the National 9/11 Memorial Foundation, and Christiane Fischer, president and CEO of AXA Art Americas Corporation, the insurance company that owns the sphere.
Burke, a driving force in the campaign to relocate the sphere from its most recent home in Battery Park, described the structure as “a beautiful tribute to the 84 members (of the Port Authority) who lost their lives on 9/11.”
For residents, workers and the many thousands of tourists visiting the area who’ve had the chance to view the sculpture – created by the German artist Fritz Koenig – it remains a powerful sight to behold.
“It’s remarkable,” said Michael Lucas, a Newark, N.J resident, during a recent tour of the landmark’s new home. “I think this sphere represents the resiliency of New Yorkers and Americans. After everything that was destroyed on 9/11, for this to still be standing – it’s just amazing. I think it really adds a lot of character to Liberty Park.”
The sphere today…
…and as it was pre-9/11, anchoring the plaza outside the Twin Towers
Originally installed at the foot of the towers at Austin Tobin Plaza in 1971, the sphere, 25 feet high and weighing 25 tons, was damaged extensively during the 9/11 attacks. In the ensuing years, it has come to symbolize the toughness and courage of the region and its people. The sphere was moved to Battery Park in 2002, with the intention the park would serve only as a temporary home. In August 2016, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners authorized its relocation to the WTC site.
Before his death earlier this year at the age of 92, Koenig was informed that his masterpiece was finally returning to the WTC, and was said to be overjoyed and thankful that its future would be in good hands.
Visitors to the landmark concur. “I saw it when it was in Battery Park, and it just wasn’t the same,” said Anders Trieber, a frequent visitor to the city and the WTC neighborhood. “This is where it belongs.”
For more on today’s ceremony, please watch here.