Reporting Steve Sandberg
NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) – The final pieces of the dreaded Deutsche Bank Building in Lower Manhattan – which became an environmental wasteland after the Sept. 11 attacks and a death trap for two firefighters several years later — were being removed Thursday, forever turning the page on the city’s dark history.
“It means the finality of 9/11, it’s like the last piece,” one woman said.
“It definitely feels like it’s the last thing left,” another woman said. “It’s like letting the full healing begin; you have to look forward not back.”
The building was irreparably damaged when the falling south tower of the World Trade Center ripped a 15-story gash into the structure the 41-story building on Sept. 11, 2001. The impact heavily damaged the bank building and filled it with toxic debris. A laborious process of dismantling the now government-owned building has taken years.
On Aug. 18, 2007, a construction worker’s discarded cigarette sparked a fire that tore through several stories of the building. Firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino became trapped on the burning 14th floor. They died of smoke inhalation after their oxygen tanks ran out.
“It’s a constant reminder of an accident that I believe should’ve been avoided all together,” a construction worker said. “For me personally – as a construction worker – it’s good to see it down.”
Engineer Joe Bradley, who is working on the 9/11 Memorial, notes the progress at Ground Zero with the Freedom Tower already rising at over 50 stories.
“It’s something to look at now and something to be proud of,” Bradley said.