On the one-year anniversary of the Market Street building collapse that killed six people, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter apologized to the families and promised a public memorial dedicated to the victims.
“This is one of the worst tragedies our city has experienced in modern times,” said Nutter. “I can very easily speak for all Philadelphians, people in the region, many across the country and some even around the world, in saying that our hearts are still broken a year later.”
The mayor spoke during a memorial service at the collapse site and officially accepted a donation of land from the Salvation Army, which previously operated a thrift store on the property. A building next to the thrift store was being demolished when it collapsed onto the adjacent building.
“Let me assure you that the Salvation Army has lost in this as well because we too have felt your loss and we too have been faithfully praying for you,” said Maj. Robert Dixon, Salvation Army director of operations.
“We too are waiting and hoping so that when this particular memorial is completed that people will indeed come here and they will be encouraged.”
Families of the six victims were on hand, including Nancy Winkler, Philadelphia’s treasurer. Her 24-year-old daughter, Anne Bryan, was killed in the collapse.
Winkler now works with the committee in charge of planning a permanent memorial on the site.
“I now have a new duty, which I did not choose, a duty to mark and preserve the memory of these six fine people,” said a teary-eyed Winkler. “We need this memorial park to both remember and honor and to affirm life and to take a stand for a better Philadelphia, a city we all love.”
Mayor Nutter said the city will raise whatever money is necessary to build an appropriate memorial for the victims. Jerry Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty and Trust, is heading the effort to collect private donations.
“As a developer I only wish we had more land to make this a more lasting tribute to everything that has happened here,” said Sweeney.
A fundraising goal has not been set, but Sweeney is already confident that any goal will be met, based on the dollars contributed so far.
The memorial project is still in the design process of planning, and no date for an opening has been set.