I had the privilege of giving Mayor Ed Koch a tour of the 9/11 Memorial a couple of months before its opening in September 2011.
I had never seen anyone else who toured the site receive a warmer welcome from a multitude of construction workers. They all wanted to have their picture taken with him.
It was a hot and muggy July morning. But the mayor patiently and warmly greeted every well-wisher, and posed for multiple cell phone pictures. People reacted to him with so much familiarity and love, like a beloved uncle or grandfather. He was New York.
By Michael Arad
Michael Arad is a partner at Handel Architects. He worked as a New York City Housing Authority architect before winning the competition to design the 9/11 Memorial. He has worked on several major projects, including a mixed-use skyscraper in Hong Kong and a 37-story tower in Miami.