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The Mystery of the Tiny Twin Towers

Weather: Clear skies and a high around 50. The weekend will be chillier and breezy — sunny on Saturday but cloudy on Sunday.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving).

The Times’s Sharon Otterman reports:

High on a scaffold, a stone sculptor rebuilt a tiny replica of the twin towers last month. A previous version of the towers, carved into the western facade of the largest cathedral in the world, was destroyed, church leaders believe, in an act of hate.

Originally carved in 1990 around the main entryway of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side, the stonework depicts the World Trade Center and other iconic New York buildings cracking and collapsing amid a nuclear mushroom cloud. Below this modern reimagining of the biblical apocalypse are depictions of rebuilding and resurrection.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the scene has attracted the attention of conspiracy theorists hypothesizing whether it somehow foretold the terror attacks.

Then, sometime between last Christmas and Jan. 2, something heavy crashed into the top third of the cathedral’s twin towers, breaking them off and leaving a jagged scar behind.

No other carvings were damaged.

Church officials filed a police report, but nothing came of it. The act was not caught on video, said Lisa Schubert, the church’s vice president for external affairs.

So the cathedral was faced with a mystery: Who destroyed its twin towers, a conspiracy theorist or someone else? It was also faced with a choice. Should it restore the towers or leave them broken?

Some weighed in against restoration, including Simon Verity, the master stone carver from Britain who led the overall work at the Portal of Paradise, the main archway of the cathedral. Joseph Kincannon, the actual carver of the twin tower scene, said he understood that thinking.

“Things that are broken,” he said, “that’s another part of history as well.”

But the Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, felt strongly that the towers should be fixed. So Mr. Kincannon, now 58 and living in Texas, was asked to return.

Up on the scaffold in late October, Mr. Kincannon pointed out how he had, in an ancient tradition of stone carvers, added a bit of his own personal history to the work: his brownstone on West 112th Street.

He filed a small piece of Indiana limestone to the shape of the towers and checked to make sure it would fit into the gap where the new towers would sit. The last step would be to carve the distinctive vertical lines on the towers’ surface and epoxy the new stone in.

In the end, he said, he agreed with the church’s decision to restore the carving, the purpose of which had always been to transform tragedy into art.

Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

The photo and video equipment seller B&H failed to pay New York State at least $7 million in sales tax, according to a lawsuit. [New York Post]

The fast-casual chain Junzi Kitchen said it was raising $5 million to save takeout Chinese restaurants whose owners were planning to close their businesses. [Eater New York]

Almost a half-million jobs in New York City, including many low-wage ones, are vulnerable to automation, a report warned. [City & State New York]


Designers and entrepreneurs showcase their work at the Designing Women Market at the New-York Historical Society in Manhattan. Noon-8 p.m. [Free]

Meet Nancy Singleton Hachisu, the author of “Food Artisans of Japan,” at a Q. and A. and book signing at Archestratus Books and Foods in Brooklyn. 6:30 p.m. [$10]


The exhibition “Color of Power: Heroes, Sheroes and Their Creators” opens at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in Manhattan. Noon-6 p.m. [Free with R.S.V.P.]

The Bronx Harvest Festival features food and beverage vendors, a cider-tasting room and games at Fordham Plaza. Noon-8 p.m. [Free]


Watch the documentary “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” part of the Double Lens Harlem Documentary Festival, at Shepard Hall in Manhattan. 1 p.m. [Free]

The Black Radicals at Play game night with the Central Brooklyn Food Co-op offers a chance to learn about the history of food cooperatives, at the Brooklyn Movement Center. 3 p.m. [Free]

— Melissa Guerrero

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.

Black cats have a bad rap. The rapper Missy Elliott says she’ll never get a feline. Find out why at the Red Room Bar in Brooklyn on Sunday.

There, at 7 p.m., the “Let’s Talk About Cats” podcast will host the Tail and Whisker Club, an intimate evening of conversation, comedy and quizzes about the animal darlings of the internet. The event will be taped and uploaded as a podcast episode.

The podcast’s host, Mary Phillips-Sandy, and its executive producer, Lizzie Jacobs, don’t agree on how great cats are. Ms. Phillips-Sandy is a big cat person; Ms. Jacobs is a not-so-big cat person. But they both think that felines make for captivating storytelling.

Among other guests at the show, my colleague Iva Dixit will discuss the thrills and challenges of living in a studio apartment with three cats who can’t stand one another.

It’s Friday — have a purr-fect weekend. 😺

Dear Diary:

Theresa was the last rent-stabilized tenant in our building, which went co-op in the 1980s. A bit deaf, always cheerful and with a loud greeting for everyone, she had earned her nickname: The Mascot.

Last winter, a plain, typed notice appeared near the mailboxes: “Our beloved Theresa passed quietly on Thursday. Services will be held at the Mary Manning Walsh Home at 10 a.m. on Monday.”

I knew I would be attending.

“How could I not have invited her over for tea?” I wailed to my daughter as I dressed for the service.

At the home, the organist opened the dog-eared pages of a songbook. Wearing bright red lipstick and with her upswept hair in a fiery orange bun, she announced each song with confidence.

A framed photo on top of the coffin faced the lectern. The rector breezed through the service with an auctioneer’s brio, and then he offered a blessing.

When we filed past the coffin, I finally saw the photo. Here was a woman with a pretty, chiseled face and a graying blond bob, not the chubby cheeks and white crew cut of my Theresa. Had she aged so badly?

No. She was someone else’s Theresa. When I got home, I found mine hanging out near the mailboxes, waiting for Calvin, our postman, to finish up.

“How you doing?” she called to me. “You look like you’ve had a pretty good day!”

— Kimberly Fakih

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