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The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) was proud to announce the moving of the Vesey Street Stairs (Survivors Stairs). The steps connected the World Trade Center Plaza to Vesey Street. The structure has been dubbed the "survivors stairway" as it was a means of escape for thousands of people on September 11th.
It withstood the towers collapse, and since 9/11 has stood in its original spot. But with construction now moving along, the decision was made to move it.
A 500-ton crane hoisted the structure onto a flatbed truck and moved it 200 feet north.
The original plan called for only a small portion of the stairwell to be preserved despite the fact that Preservationists and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attack began campaigning years ago to leave the staircase as it stood, while developers refined plans for office towers, a transit hub and Sept. 11 memorial on the 16-acre site. The staircase, which had weighed 175 tons and stood 22 feet, sits in the middle of the footprint of a 1,278-foot skyscraper, one of five being built to replace the destroyed towers.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was able to broker a compromise last year to separate the stairs from their concrete base and install them at the Sept. 11 memorial.
Avi Schick, chairman of LMDC rebuilding agency that brokered the compromise, said that debate over the staircase became a symbolic struggle between the site's history and the long-delayed progress rebuilding it.
"You were pitting memory and preservation and loss and family against redevelopment and construction, as if you could have one or the other but you couldn't coexist," he said. "What we proved is in fact they could coexist.”