Sphere Sculpture that Survived 9/11 Attack Returns to World Trade Center

Victims' families have campaigned to return it to Ground Zero.

Fritz Koenig's Sphere will return to the World Trade Center site after 14 years. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Fritz Koenig's Sphere will return to the World Trade Center site after 14 years. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Heavily damaged but not entirely destroyed in the 9/11 terror attack, the iconic bronze and steel sculpture that stood in front of the World Trade Center’s twin towers will soon return to its original location, following an announcement from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey this past Thursday, the New York Times reports.

The “Sphere for Plaza Fountain”—25 feet high and weighing 25 tons—was commissioned by the Port Authority in 1966 from German sculptor Fritz Koenig, and finally installed on the plaza between the towers in 1971.

Badly damaged in the 2001 attack, the sphere was dismantled and rebuilt on a temporary memorial site in Battery Park in 2002, but victims’ families campaigned to return the sphere “home.” According to Smithsonian.com, the sculpture became a symbol of hope when it was discovered among the wreckage on Ground Zero’s. In its hollow interior, workers reportedly found a bible, an airline seat, and papers from the fallen towers.

However, the sculpture won’t return to its exact spot in the center of the Austin J. Tobin Plaza, as it is now the middle of a restored Greenwich Street. Instead, after 14 years in “exile”, it will be installed in the new Liberty Park near the St. Nicholas National Shrine, currently under construction. The statue will thus not be incorporated into the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

According to CNN, the 92-year old Koenig wasn’t notified by the Port Authority about the plans. Instead, he received the good news from Michael Burke, a bereaved family member who spearheaded the effort to bring the sphere back to its permanent home, says Stefanje Weinmayr, spokesperson for the Fritz and Mari Koenig Foundation in Landshut, Germany.

Weinmayr told CNN that the installation of the sphere was a central moment in Koenig’s life. When he traveled to the site following 9/11, he saw his “injured, but surviving child.” He was disheartened to feel that the sphere was seemingly unwanted as a memory back in 2002, Koenig told CNN.

“He was not happy with the last placement in Battery Park. The possibility of a better situation electrified him,” Weinmayr told the NYT.

“Returning the iconic Koenig sphere to its rightful home at the World Trade Center site symbolizes our resilience in the wake of unspeakable horror and that we will never forget those who were lost on that fateful day in September,” Port Authority Vice Chairman Steven M. Cohen said in a news release, which also promises that the sphere will not be “adversely impacting the architectural design of the Memorial Plaza.”


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