Between the Blocks

Between the Blocks

Sculpture of Helsinki #19

From top to bottom is a memorial to Finland’s second president, Lauri Kristian Relander (1883-1942), and is situated in the Töölö neighborhood. The sculptor was Matti Peltokangas and he was the winning entry in competition for a memorial. The four blocks are much bigger than they look, each side is just over 2 meters with the grooves cut in opposite directions on each side.

You can find almost 500 outdoor sculptures, pieces of environmental art and historical monuments in Helsinki and they are accessible to everyone. See more and search through the database at HAMhelsinki.fi.

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Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Hanoi, Vietnam

Everyday thousands of people queue to visit the embalmed remains of former leader Ho Chi Minh. The mausoleum in Hanoi was completed in 1975 after two years of construction and six years after Ho Chi Minh’s death. Even though in his will Ho Chi Minh stated that he wanted to be cremated he body was embalmed and displayed in the building which has since been placed in a list of the world’s ugliest buildings.

Ho Chi Minh left behind a legacy that didn’t necessarily represent his life. His image is featured on the Vietnamese bank notes, public buildings and many homes, shortly after his death the city of Saigon was changed to Ho Chi Minh City, and any critical opinions and publications of him are banned in Vietnam with Ho Chi Minh frequently being glorified.

After following an endless queue for more than a hour I entered the mausoleum. On every corner there was a guard and before I entered the room in which his body was displayed a guard removed hands from pockets, hats from heads and ensure absolute silence. I walked around the outside of the room with the glass coffin in the center of the room, after such a long time queuing I was only in front of the coffin for less than a minute. It was a very surreal experience.

9/11 Memorial

It was security check after security check on our way through the line to enter the monument but once we made it through we came into this beautiful open green space in the center of downtown New York. The museum wasn’t open at the time of my visit but opened shortly after. I peered through the large glass windows and inside you could see the iron girder that was one of the last remaining pieces of the Twin Towers.

At the site of where the towers had stood there was now two large pools. I stared into the pool watching the water disappear into the hole where the foundations had once laid for the Twin Towers. The calm of the cascading water as it ran deep into the footprint of one of the towers. It was peaceful and beautiful.

There were many trees in the garden that made up the plaza but there was a particular one that was getting a large amount of attention. This wasn’t any tree it was the Survivor Tree, a tree pulled from the rubble of the twin towers. It is now a symbol to many Americans of rebirth as it continues to grow in the center of the memorial.

9/11 Memorial

Survivor Tree

What I didn’t know at the time of my visit was how much trouble and delays the area had gone through to reach this point and still the museum and One World Trade were closed and under construction. Creating this memorial had been difficult and the designers always had to keep in mind those who had been affected. Even the ordering and placement of the names was under discussion for years.

In the documentary 16 Acres they outline these particular delays the area saw and tells of the continuous troubles that the developers, family’s of the victims and the land owners went through. Once the area had been meticulously cleared the corner stone was laid during a ceremony in 2004 but construction of One World Trade would not begin until 4 years later and open 6 years after that!

To honor and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom.

-Corner Stone Inscription

The corner stone was never used in the construction of One World Trade and now resides in an industrial park in Long Island. More trouble came in 2006 when security concerns of the building were raised. At this time the building was being called Freedom Towers and had been redesigned but there was still disagreement between the buildings owner and the land owner.

9/11 Memorial

One World Trade

The memorial plaza was opened on the 10 year anniversary of September 11th. It was a difficult process as the designers had to continuously keep in mind the families of the deceased. In my opinion they have done a great job at creating a place for silent reflection in the heart of the city. A place where those who died would always be remembered.

Now, the area is still under development  and there are plans to build three more skyscrapers in the area. One World Trade is now complete and open for business. Even though the New York skyline has been changed forever it will not be forgotten how it had once been.

Further reading. Take a look at this excellent article from The Independent:

One World Trade Centre Observatory in New York Opens

9/11 Memorial

New York Skyline