Just days before the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, two giant steel "tridents" were lowered Tuesday down to the site of the 9/11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero. The seven-story steel structures are symbols of the progress in rebuilding the World Trade Center site.
They were part of the original facade of the Twin Towers and will be visible from the Memorial Plaza, when it opens next year.
Moments before the tridents were lowered, city and state officials gathered at Seven World Trade Center -- the only building to be completed and occupied -- to offer an update on construction at the sixteen acre site.
Governor David Paterson acknowledged "although we have had delays and unfortunately, we've had conflicts of opinion, we are now -- we believe-- on the road to a very great success."
And Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out that "while nothing happens in democracy as quickly as we would like, the truth of the matter is democracy does get you to the right place."
Bit New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver noted, "from the moment planning began for the new World Trade Center, this project lacked the sense of urgency."
Plans to rebuild at the site of the Sept. 11th attacks have been mired for years in politics, passion and negotiations. Tower One is now under construction, with thirty-six floors completed out of 106. Tower Four is also starting to rise. And the transit hub designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is finally underway.
The 9/11 Memorial will include 400 trees surrounding two giant waterfalls, each marking the footprint of the original Twin Towers. The Memorial is set to open on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, September 11, 2011. The Museum is scheduled to open one year later, in 2012.
Elizabeth Berger, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York, believes "there's been remarkable activity in the past two years on the sixteen-acre site, but a lot of it has been below grade and hard to see."
Berger also talked about the progress in rebuilding the Lower Manhattan community. She says there are now double the number of people living below Chambers Street than there were before September 2001. And she says there now are seventeen hotels in an area which used to contain only six hotels before the attacks.
Tourists now contribute much to the economy in the area around Ground Zero. When asked what he thought of development at the construction site, one vacationer, Ronald Polmatter of Schuylverville, New York told us, "I think it's gonna take the time it has to take. It's gotta be done right."
But Howard Dinner of Fort Lauderdale, Florida disagreed, saying, "I think it's pretty slow. I think it should've been up already."