The other morning, while I was getting ready for my interview in Houston, one of the morning news shows had on a bereaved widow of the September 11th attacks, talking about her goal of preventing anything from being built on the former site of the World Trade Center towers. I immediately dismissed her quest as pretty unrealistic; later in the day, though, my brain returned to the idea, and for the past week, I’ve been batting around the reasons why it would never happen.

New York City has a history of impermanence. Limited by land, but unlimited by goals and desires, the city is caught in a quandary — the need for growth without the room for growth. To deal with it, New York continually demolishes the old and builds in its place — the glorious old Penn Station was replaced by Madison Square Garden, the Singer Tower made way for One Liberty Plaza, the Polo Grounds became low-income housing, the Murray Hill Reservoir was drained and the New York Public Library arose. Sentiment lives on in the pages of historical texts, while the real estate moves on.

Good or bad, this quality is part of the very fabric of this city. To not rebuild would be against all that New York has stood for in its history; to return the land to use, to begin establishing roots in the ground of Battery Park that will give rise to the return of daily life, would keep true to the spirit of the millions who have passed through this island over the centuries and would serve as the ultimate monument to those who lost their lives that day.