The five skyscrapers were all supposed to rise by early next decade to replace the ravaged World Trade Center, with the city's tallest towers set in a spiral evoking the Statue of Liberty's torch.
They would frame a massive memorial in a tree-filled park, plus a theater and a transportation hub with uplifted wings - one of the symbols intended to defy the terrorists who destroyed the 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site in under two hours.
People run from the collapse of the second World Trade Center Tower on Sept. 11, 2001, after both were struck by hijacked airliners. This year will mark the eighth anniversary of the attacks.
Standing on the site now - a multi-level labyrinth of concrete and steel, from the entrance resembling the rooftops of an underground city - the sweeping design unveiled six years ago still hasn't materialized.
And while the most symbolic pieces of the puzzle at ground zero are taking shape, it's become increasingly clear that the grand scheme will take decades to be fully completed, if it ever is at all.