- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - A 25-ton, bronze sphere ripped open by the collapsing World Trade Center is returning to a spot overlooking the rebuilt site.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday approved plans to move the Koenig Sphere from its temporary place in Battery Park at Manhattan’s southern tip.

The sculpture will grace the new Liberty Park that opened last month, across the street from the 9/11 memorial plaza on the 16-acre site. No date has been set for the move.

The sphere once stood at the heart of the trade center, between the two towers that were decimated in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

German artist Fritz Koening had created the work commissioned by the Port Authority, which later lost 84 employees. It was dedicated in Battery Park in 2002, with an eternal flame honoring the more than 2,700 people killed on 9/11.

Thursday’s decision came after years of discussions with New Yorkers who wanted the sphere returned to its pre-9/11 location.

But with the reconstruction of the World Trade Center, the sphere could not return to its prior location “without adversely impacting the architectural design of the memorial plaza,” the Port Authority said in a statement.

Still, 15 years after the attacks, the beloved work will serve “as a symbol of resilience and strength for workers, local residents and tourists,” the Port Authority said.

It will be installed next to the rising new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed by fiery falling debris. The Santiago Calatrava-designed church, when completed in 2018, will glow at night through its white marble exterior, illuminating the sphere.

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