Historic sign for WTC is being donated

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On one street corner in Lower Manhattan, the World Trade Center is still spoken of in the present tense, confusing some passers-by, enlightening many others.

“Now, every weekday, 50,000 people come to work in 12 million square feet of office, hotel and commercial space in the seven buildings in this city within a city,” says the seven-foot-high Heritage Trails New York sign at Church and Cortlandt Streets, opposite ground zero.

“As many as 10,000 visitors in a single day ride the non-stop express elevators — from the lobby to the 107th floor in 82 seconds — to take in the spectacular views of the city and its surroundings,” the sign continues. Of course, there is no such skyscraping vantage today. No trade center buildings can be seen (although their replacements are taking concrete form below ground). While the site swarms with workers, they do not number 50,000. And they do not wear business suits.

The Alliance for Downtown New York, which maintains the 11-year-old Heritage Trails markers, has deliberately left this one untouched since 9/11 as an authentic — and poignant — remembrance of the trade center’s astonishing vitality.

But in recent days, the sign has been imperiled by construction crews working on the Fulton Street Transit Center. Wood framing from sturdy sidewalk fences now butts into the sign and has even caused some minor damage.

Valerie Lewis, a senior vice president of the Downtown Alliance, said the sign would be removed as quickly as possible, before more harm was done. It will be donated to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center, which is now under construction.

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