Though Chris King, 14, had never seen the World Trade Center, never been to New York City, and had never known any of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he still wanted to remember the towers and the city as he had known them to be on Sept. 10: Tall, strong, and intact.
So he decided to build them.
“I was really upset, and I just wanted some way to remember the towers in my own way,” said Chris of Washington Township.
He got the idea to build models of the towers from a project he made for his aunt, Darlene Boyer, when he was 5 - a small log house crafted out of “skill” sticks, Popsicle stick-like boards with jigsaw puzzle-like cuts on both sides.
After hours upon hours of studying the towers and the site, watching videos, finding information off the Internet, and driving all around town for just the right supplies, he took that idea and transformed it into a 4-by-4-foot model of the 16-acre site where the seven World Trade Center buildings once stood.
The Twin Tower models are 110 sticks high and stand 5 feet tall. The other buildings on the site are also done to scale at 8, 9, and 47 sticks tall - one stick per floor. Chris glued all the sticks together for additional support, then sanded the glue down so it no longer shows.
Trees decorate the site, providing shade for the little people, about an inch tall, who stand on the ground, a reminder of “the way it was, people going to work and on with their everyday lives,” said Chris's mother, Gina King.
Lights placed inside the towers and the other buildings make the model seem even more alive and realistic. A poster meant to hang between the towers says ``even though the World Trade Center is gone now, there will always be two towers towering in the memory of every American.''
“I wish I could have been there to see it before it happened. My friend went there and went to the observation deck and he said it was pretty cool,” Chris said. “In my lifetime, something like this had never happened, and I never thought [it would], and then it did.”
He was at school when he found out what happened. An eighth-grader at Washington Junior High, Chris said he experienced a combination of feelings that day, which he could only describe as “weird.”
“People are evil, people can be really mean,” he said. “I knew a lot of people were going to be dead. Then when I saw the people jump from the windows in the towers, I cried.”
Now that the project is completed, Chris wants to send it to New York as a gift to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The family is planning to make the drive before Sept. 11 in the hopes of staying in the city for the memorial festivities.
“It would be better off in New York than in a house,” Chris said.
If it does find its way to New York, the gift would be one of many sent to the city since the terrorist attacks. An official in the city's Office of Correspondence said the office has had “an overwhelming amount of gifts that have been sent - just beyond belief.”
The gifts consist of food, cards, posters, and personal music CDs containing patriotic songs. Many gifts are being sent to a church near the Ground Zero site, and others are being held until there is room to display them, the official said, adding that the city has received too many gifts for them all to be displayed.
Chris said he plans on making more World Trade Center site models in the future - one for himself and one for his aunt. But even after those are finished, the work will most likely go on.
“He wants to start the Pentagon,” his mom said. “Here we go again.”