It was a piece of mangled metal from the wreckage of Ground Zero presented to Britain as a lasting symbol of peace. But it lasted just 28 days on public display before it was lifted and unceremoniously dumped on a Cambridge farm to collect rust.
Now a sculpture made from steel recovered from the September 11 attacks that nearly sparked a Transatlantic rift is to be unveiled in London for the second time. The new – and this time permanent – location will Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Entitled After 9/11, the exhibit was designed by the Asian-American artist Miya Ando. It was presented to Boris Johnson by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2010 on the condition that it permanently featured in a prominent London location.
Such was its significance that a New York judge had to sign a special agreement to release the metal, which is still considered court evidence in any case relating to 2001 attacks, which killed 2,977 people, including 67 Britons.
But following a short stint in Battersea Park it was lifted and moved to Cambridge. After protracted negotiations over where to keep the sculpture broke down it was left in a warehouse in Ruislip where it has remained ever since.
Last night the retired New York firefighter, Lee Ielpi, who lost his son - also a fireman - on 9/11 welcomed news of its resurrection. “This is a symbol of rebuilding and a reminder of what happened in our world,” he told The Independent.
“With current challenges such as the rise of Isis and radicalisation of vulnerable young Muslims, it is critical to educate young people as to what happened to our world since that day. That can only be done through a permanent lasting reminder such as this.”
Unveiling the statue today for a second time Boris Johnson said the work mirrored “the spirit of hope and tolerance” of the 2012 London Olympics. “Nearly 14 years may have passed but this prodigious art work will generate continued interest, discussion and memories in the thousands of visitors to its landmark new home,” he said.
Peter Rosengard, founder of the educational charity Since 9/11, said: “It’s been a five-year journey to honour our promise to New York to permanently and prominently display their gift of World Trade Centre steel in London. Today in the Olympic Park, we honour the past and look to a better future for all our children.”Reuse content