TILES FOR SMILES: The Mulry Square 9/11 tile project

by Kevin Walsh

Mulry Square, at 7th and Greenwich Avenues in the Village, is named for Emigrant Savings Bank President Thomas Mulry (d. 1916), a tireless contributor to Catholic charitable causes, notably the Society of St. Vincent De Paul. The square is across the street from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital.

St. Vincent’s Hospital retained a ‘wall of hope and remembrance’ with the fliers of people missing after the towers were destroyed. The hospital closed in the spring of 2010 and has been demolished.

Seemingly spontaneously after 9/11/01 the chain link fence surrounding a parking lot on Mulry Square sprouted ceramic tiles (like the ones in your bathroom) with messages of hope and positivity for NYC’s future. Hardly maudlin but heartfelt, the tiles are devoid of calls for revenge but ask for renewal and rebuilding. I thought Forgotten NY should show a few of them on the anniversary of the awful day. In reality, the tiles are sponsored by the Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association, and if you would like to contribute a tile, you’re advised to contact them.

A new MTA ventilator has forced the memorials to move, but many can still be seen on the site: they have been affixed to the chain link fence outside.

9/10/03; updated 9/10/13 and 9/11/17

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”


Heartland September 11, 2011 - 3:07 pm

“Imagine”: If there were no sanctuary cities,
If America’s ruling class were patriots,
If Americans were educated, not indoctrinated..

In 2012, end The Era of BO

Heartland September 11, 2011 - 3:07 pm

Too bad for you

Ralph September 12, 2011 - 11:00 am

What a sad commentary on such a wonderful memorial. Were you indoctrinated to be a shallow-minded xenophobe?

NY2AZ September 11, 2013 - 10:52 am

So, Ralph, 2 years after your patronizing comment, are you volunteering for the “incredibly small” strike against Syria? Just asking.

Bob K September 11, 2012 - 4:57 pm

This is an exquisite popular memorial. Perhaps FNY might consider making a practice of revisiting the Tiles each year, on the anniversary of 9/11.

Commendations for solving easy access to multiple small “thumbnails” for a simple display such as this one. It works well, a major improvement!

Mike September 13, 2012 - 12:29 pm

I know this memorial very well. I vividly remember the first time I saw it, and I still walk past it practically every day. One tile in particular leapt off the fence at me. It was simply painted blue with the words “The Sky Was So Blue” painted in black. Nothing evokes the memory of that day for me like those words. I noticed that tile is gone now along with many others. Does anyone have any idea what became of the tiles that were removed? I hope their are going into some appropriate permanent exhibit somewhere.

Heartland September 15, 2012 - 9:40 am

Here’s a link to the stry about what happened to the tile memorial from the NY Post (9/15/12):


Dusty Berke January 24, 2016 - 8:14 pm

Local residents/ Village Angeles have been caring for the Tiles and are preparing for a dedication ceremony this year for 9/11. I know and love that tile too. I would be happy to set it aside if you would like to re hang it when the Tiles reach their new home just ask one of the volunteers to check the list for you at the site. Look for updates or leave messages on facebook @ 9/11 Tiles for America.

Jamie September 18, 2012 - 5:12 pm

As I recall from growing up on Waverly Place at 11th Street, just West of 7th Ave, there was a Gas Station and later a small Hamburger joint there (later 60’s to mid 70’s). the same guys owned this site as owned another triangle site farther down 7th Ave South below Bleeker.

Both are remnants from when 7th Ave south was pushed thru after WW1. The IRT “H” plan for the subways pushed the city to raze block after block to allow them to use the cut & cover method,

We did have some really odd remnants of buildings with corners cut off and a number of small triangular plots that held newsstands and flower shops.

Tal Barzilai September 10, 2013 - 7:32 pm

I still think it would have been best to have back what was taken from us that day, which was the Twin Towers, rather than what is being planned. Please don’t grill me for this, but I find the official plan over at the WTC site to be completely overrated with what’s going there not to mention being so overpriced. Also, I do tend to feel that what is being planned gives the message that we did let the terrorists change us especially when putting something else there in that they got away with destroying a symbol to the world and not having it back. On a side note, you can read essays from those such as myself on Debacle: Failing to Rebuild the Twin Towers, which will be free on Kindle this week.


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