Ground zero has passed from the hands of rescuers to the hands of mourners to the hands of dreamers to the hands of planners. Now, with the Freedom Tower cornerstone in place, it is passing into the hands of builders.
Deep within the smoke-blackened ruins of an underground parking garage, 30 workers are installing tendonlike bundles of steel cable, called tiebacks, to anchor the concrete perimeter foundation wall to bedrock. This will permit the demolition in coming months of the last major structural vestige of the old World Trade Center.
On a 54,000-square-foot site - now partly obscured by the garage, partly marked by small flags where soil borings have been taken and conspicuously defined in one corner by a 20-ton block of Adirondack granite - the Freedom Tower is to rise, the first and tallest skyscraper of the new World Trade Center.
With the politicians and bagpipers and camera crews of the cornerstone ceremony long gone, Joseph J. Seymour, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, visited ground zero on Thursday to inspect progress.
"We've already done the borings for the foundation," he said. "The tiebacks are going in now. Once the tiebacks are complete, the slabs will come down. And, of course, the footings will be going in as well, a number of footings that hold the whole, massive Freedom Tower.
"The governor said, 'Steel in the sky by 2006,' " Mr. Seymour continued. "I think it'll take a good year before we come up to street level because of all the intricacies that are involved in the basement substructure.