Letter: WTC part of N.O. heritage

On July 30, The Advocate reported, “Plan to demolish WTC dropped.” Fortunately, Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed a bill allowing the use of public funds from the Morial Convention Center for World Trade Center (WTC) demolition. A question arises about the legitimacy of using Convention Center funds for this project, whether to demolish or to develop this 10-acre site.

Enormous volunteer energy is required to halt the demolition of New Orleans’s architectural heritage, of which this 50-year-old building, originally known as the International Trade Mart (ITM), is proudly a part. The planning for its construction required input from civic leaders, including mayors, City Council members, and representatives of International House, the Dock Board, the Chamber of Commerce and others, for the extended period of 18 years.

All activities were duly reported in newspapers, so that the citizens of New Orleans understood, when a decision was reached to build the 33-story ITM Tower for $40 million, that New Orleans was moving into a national and an international commercial scene.

Today, a five-member tourism group appointed by the mayor will make decisions for the demolition and redesign of this important area, with less than a year of public notice and considerably less citizen participation.

New Orleanians associate the ground entrance of the WTC with numerous art, photo, and sculpture exhibitions offered free to all. Thousands of graduations, weddings and special events celebrated there associate the citizens of the state with this iconic building. Nevertheless, public awareness of its potential loss is lacking.

No assurance has been forthcoming as to the selection of at least two proposals to save the WTC and put it into taxpaying commerce. Questions arise as to the real motivations of the Tricentennial Consortium’s desire to demolish. Unless this group can direct its efforts positively toward a redesign of this important area, including the preservation of the World Trade Center, New Orleans will continue to destroy its heritage.

M.L. Christovich

architectural historian

New Orleans