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The horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, are still vivid for many Americans, especially the families of the victims. So it is tragic that on this Sept. 11, when family members, politicians and visitors go to the ceremonies at ground zero, they will be gathering at an unfinished place.

Instead of the two memorial pools designed by the architect Michael Arad, visitors will see their barest outlines. Instead of a circle of skyscrapers, the steel for the tallest tower stretches only five stories high. There are just the first skeletal signs of Santiago Calatrava’s magnificent transportation hub.

Why is it taking so long? That is a question that has been asked every Sept. 11. For the first few years, there were too many feuds — the architects Daniel Libeskind versus David Childs, the families versus the designers and builders, the community versus the demolition squads, the developer Larry Silverstein versus the insurance companies. Even now, Mr. Silverstein is locked in arbitration with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owner of the site, because he wants more of the authority’s money to build more office towers.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who now supports Mr. Silverstein’s excessive demands for public funds, once recognized the hazards of overbuilding office space in the area. In December 2002, a year after the attack, he bluntly acknowledged that “the twin towers’ voracious appetite for tenants weakened the entire downtown real estate market” — a possibility that today’s real estate experts fear if Mr. Silverstein builds too precipitously.

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