Parish leaders are lobbying the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to make St. Paul's Chapel, a religious and civic icon built in 1766, the eastern focus of the memorial site, according to the Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, Vicar of the parish.
|The new sight line to St. Paul's Chapel|
St. Paul's and its perimeter fence is already the longest-lasting and largest venue for those who travel to lower Manhattan to remember victims of the September 11 attack.
Citing this, and the chapel's role in supporting recovery workers from September to the end of May this year, Father Howard says: "There's already a de facto memorial there."
He noted with particular concern the plans that set 50-plus story buildings along the northeastern edge of the site, effectively shutting off and shadowing the little chapel and its churchyard of flowers and sycamore trees.
He also prized the sight line opened up from the Hudson River to St. Paul's: "That's as it was when the chapel was first built."
Although the twin towers soared above the chapel, there was open space directly behind it -- the trade center's plaza and one of its smaller office buildings.
The plans for lower Manhattan are in their earliest stages of development. Estimates put the completion of the massive redevelopment ten or more years in the future.
Nevertheless, the vicar is energetic and vociferous. "The rector, vestry, and I would like to see the site open up onto St. Paul's," he said. "Now that the crisis is over, we want to continue to be good citizens, participating as fully as we can, as we all move forward."
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation recently called for three new designs for the site by the end of the year. It extended the planning process and will select a final design in 2003. Among elements caled for in the new plans are multiple open spaces throughout the site.
Photo of Father Howard: Leo Sorel