NEW YORK (CBS 2) — New York City passed another milepost Wednesday on the road to recovery from the 9/11 attacks.
One of the badly damaged buildings torn down near ground zero is now standing at its full 14-story height.
CBS 2’s Lou Young got an exclusive look at the emotional moment.
The milestone passed with polite applause and exhausted relief. A ceremonial steel beam was put in place to “top out” the new Fiterman Hall — one of the buildings slashed and shattered on the day the towers fell. At long last the Borough of Manhattan Community College is nearly whole again.
“I have strong emotions,” said college operating director Ed Sullivan. “I saw a lot of people that day. I seen a lot of people coming out burnt. I was one of those people running down the street, white. So this is a great day. For a while there I didn’t think it might happen.”
Fiterman Hall stands a block from ground zero. It survived the initial attack, only to be gouged open when World Trade building Number 7 fell late that afternoon.
While so much attention was focused on the pit — ground zero, and Deutsche Bank, across the way for so many years Fiterman Hall stood damaged and contaminated. The re-building has taken an extraordinary amount of time.
“It means we’re almost there. We’ve passed the nightmare that we’ve been living with the last 10 years,” Borough of Manhattan Community College VP Scott Andersen said.
It was a nightmare that included the possibility of the entire school closing for good. BMCC President Antonio Perez graciously remembered how CBS 2 helped him get the word to its 16,000 students that BMCC was quickly reopening after the attack as we broadcast live from the roof of the main campus building on West Street. The college re-opened Oct. 1 and survived and it’s why CBS 2 was invited to the private “topping off” ceremony on Wednesday.
“There’s a history here with CBS and BMCC and it was important that Lou be with us here today,” Perez said.
Everybody who was there 10 years ago signed the beam before it went to the top — across the way from what is now a busy construction site. The college hopes to have it open in time for the 11th anniversary of an attack that has taken longer to recover from than any of us could’ve imagined.
Fiterman Hall was given to the college in 1993: a $34 million donation by Miles and Shirley Fiterman. Their son, Steven, was on hand for Wednesday’s ceremony.
Please offer your thoughts on this special occasion in the comments section below.