Public Program Recap: Holding Back the Hudson

Public Program Recap: Holding Back the Hudson

Panelists discuss critical role and history of the slurry wall. Photo by Jin S. Lee, 9/11 Memorial.

Last week the 9/11 Memorial Museum hosted a panel discussion about the Museum’s slurry wall, a retaining wall built in the late 1960s to hold back the waters of the Hudson River. The wall is a marvel of civil engineering that remains intact as part of the Museum’s Foundation Hall and has become a symbol of endurance and human resolve.

In celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, the panelists discussed the unique history of the slurry wall and how historical events and collective memory can elevate places and objects from the mundane to the sacred. The panel participants included Harriet F. Senie, the director of the art history and art museum studies program at the City College of New York; Peter Rinaldi, former engineering program director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and Ken Lustbader, historic preservation consultant and former advisor to the Lower Manhattan Emergency Preservation Fund. 

In the video clip below, Rinaldi discusses first conceptualizing a feat of engineering like the slurry wall as an artifact and the process of preserving that artifact. 

“Before some of these artifacts were really identified, started protecting some of them, with the idea that they might be of historical significance, including the footprints, you know, we put protection over them and Andrew got involved in identifying them, you know, as a preservation but we actually started to protect them early on for a number of reasons. So, the process was interesting and I think, you know, when you get a group of people together usually the best ideas start to come out after. It took a little bit of time, but it did actually work through and you can see the fruits of that right here, in this wonderful edifice in the museum today.”

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You can view the full program hereFind out more about the spring 2019 public programming season at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

This panel is supported with funds from the American Express Foundation.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff