The Ferry Point Park 9/11 Memorial Grove has dealt with many problems during its first year, but community activists are always determined to keep the memorial intact.
In late 2007, the City Department of Parks and Recreation planted 15 white flowering redbud trees at the southern tip of Ferry Point Park in a project meant to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
An additional 3,000 saplings that were donated by Prince Albert II of Monaco were also planted in the park to commemorate the approximate number of people who lost their lives in the attacks.
In the four years of the Ferry Point 9/11 Memorial Grove’s existence, however, the memorial trees have dealt with an unfortunate history of vandalism.
In 2008 alone, the memorial trees were stolen by coldhearted thieves three separate times, forcing local residents, families of 9/11 victims, elected officials, and high school students to voluntarily replant the trees.
“It was a terrible time because we could never figure out who stole trees that remember the events of September 11th,” said Dotti Poggi, founder of Friends of Ferry Point Park. “We were very grateful to have all the help that we got to replant the trees. It’s one of our most loved sections of our park.”
The area of Ferry Point Park was selected as one of four locations in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island that face or overlook Ground Zero. The grove is located in a crescent-shaped area near the Whitestone Bridge overlooking the Hudson River. On a clear day, passersby visiting the Ferry Point 9/11 Memorial Grove have a clear view of where the World Trade Center once stood.
Each memorial grove in New York City is called “viewshed groves,” meaning that each overlooks the area in Lower Manhattan. The trees stand between 10 and 20 feet high and stand-out among the other trees in Ferry Point Park with their bold white blossoms, and are separated by a small plaque with a dedication to the victims of 9/11.
Fortunately, Poggi says the grove has remained intact over the last few years and it is something that Friends of Ferry Point Park makes sure continues to bloom during the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
“When you have a dedicated area in a park, or anywhere, that honors those who lost their lives and fought to save others lives, it really means something,” Poggi said. “We have a staff that constantly cares for the Ferry Point Memorial Grove because it is something we are certainly proud of.”
Poggi said every year the site is visited frequently on September 11th. With the 10th this year, she urges local residents to visit the beloved viewshed grove and pray for those who perished.