"Now that the [9/11] memorial has opened to the public," Alyssa Katz writes in her article in this week’s issue of The Nation, Proving Grounds, "the transformation of the zone from a spectacular but also stubbornly mundane place to do business into a shrine to Muslim-battling martyrs is complete." But we shouldn’t forget the ambivalence that surrounded the buildings, she argues—or the controversial way in which they were brought into being. The World Trade Center and Battery Park were built in the nineteen-sixties over a patchwork of landfill, industrial docks and the ruins of Radio Row, a working class network of mom-and-pop businesses. The project went forward with the help of public funds and the dubious application of eminent domain to become a planned community catering to high finance. 

In this video produced by The Nation‘s Francis Reynolds, Katz, editor of the New York World, an accountability journalism project based at Columbia Journalism School, provides some historical background for the World Trade Center site and the example it set for the evolution of Lower Manhattan and the city as a whole.

—Teresa Cotsirilos