Two years after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Hoboken is preparing a somber commemoration that will again honor those lost. During the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, Hoboken lost more residents than any other city in New Jersey.
It was on the city’s waterfront where local residents witnessed the attacks on the World Trade Center, watched the collapse of the towers, and then helped the rescue boats unload more than 10,000 victims ferried across from New York. More than 3,000 citizens signed up to volunteer at St. Mary Hospital or down at the makeshift triage in front of the PATH.
Now, as the second anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Hoboken residents will again have the opportunity to come together to honor the victims and comfort their families.
The city will conduct an interfaith memorial service at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11 to honor those who perished in the 9/11 terror attacks, Mayor David Roberts announced.
Hosted by the city and the Hoboken Clergy Coalition, the service will honor the more than 50 residents who were killed. Hoboken suffered a loss of approximately one out of every 800 residents. All but three of the victims were under the age of 40.
“It is important that we honor those who perished and reflect on the impact it had on family and friends and the social fabric of our entire community,” Roberts said Thursday.
Dedicating a living memorial
The service, which will be held on Pier A Park, will conclude with the dedication of the city’s Living Memorial Tree Grove, which was recently planted at the park’s entrance. The memorial grove will be comprised of 52 ginkgo trees, and the grove has been designed to complement the layout of the park’s existing trees.
The ginkgo, which can also be spelled gingko, was selected for its distinction as the oldest living species of tree, dating back to the Permian period 270 million years ago. The tree has fan-shaped leaves that turn bright yellow in autumn, can soar 100 to 200 feet in height with a trunk diameter of three to four feet, and has a possible lifespan of 1,000 years.
Another historical fact about the ginkgo is particularly interesting: A ginkgo was one of the few things left standing – and alive – following the 1945 nuclear blast in Hiroshima. The next year, the tree budded without any deformities.
The ginkgoes planted in the victims’ memory, are arranged in a grid aligned with the former site of the World Trade Center.
Finalists to be named for permanent memorial
Also Thursday, the city is scheduled to name the 10 finalists in the competition to win the right to design the permanent Sept. 11 memorial that will eventually stand on Pier A Park.
The Sept. 11 Memorial Fund Committee is a group that was chosen by the city to oversee the creation of a permanent memorial that will honor the Hoboken victims of the World Trade Center tragedy.
The fund’s committee is made up of five members of Hoboken families who lost loved ones in the tragedy, as well as Hoboken officials and local residents who are active in art and architecture, community development, public affairs, and fundraising.
For the past five months, the fund’s committee has conducted a public competition to select an artist, designer or collaborative team to create the memorial.
The competition was open to artists, architects, landscape architects, and other design professionals working singly or in teams.
The committee has appointed a distinguished jury of public art and design experts to whittle down the candidates. The jury includes Emma Amos, artist and professor at Rutgers; Henry Arnold, landscape architect; Anne Buttenwieser, waterfront planning expert and adjunct professor at Barnard College and Columbia University; Ray Gastil, executive director of the Van Alen Institute; Donald Genaro, industrial designer and retired partner of Henry Dreyfuss Associates; and Jorge Silvetti, an architect and professor at Harvard.
The expert jury has now selected the 10 semi-finalists and will announce who they are Thursday. Once selected, the semi-finalists will be given an honorarium to develop conceptual drawings and models for the jury, who will select three finalists to be announced in the next couple months.
The finalists will then be invited to present concepts, estimated budgets and professional references to the jury and committee before a winner is selected. All segments of the community are welcome and encouraged to be involved with the Memorial Fund. For more information, please call (201) 420-2013.
Unveiling of new 9/11 book
On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., in the Hoboken Public Library at Fifth and Park Avenue, a book entitled “September 11: Hoboken Remembers,” will be unveiled. The book is a collection of essays, poems and recollections of the World Trade Center tragedy by Hoboken and Hudson County residents.
The book is being published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc., the prestigious publishing firm that moved its global headquarters to Hoboken last year. Already in its short time here, the firm has been a generous supporter of the Hoboken Public Library and the programs that it offers.
The project was undertaken and endorsed by the city’s Friends of Hoboken Public Library, the library Board of Trustees, and Lina Podles, the city’s head librarian.
“This is a beautiful book, full of poignant, heart-warming, sad and lovely essays and poems, all from the heart,” said Arturo Martinez, who is on the board of the Friends and library. “We hope that all of the contributors will be at the library for the unveiling.”
Martinez added that after the unveiling, two copies of the book will be placed in the library so that future generations of scholars, students and citizens can read about the feelings of those who experienced the tragedy.
The original essays will also become part of the permanent archives.