A little bit of New York history can be found reproduced as a 16-foot-tall replica in the backyard of a home at Gowan Road and Simmons Street in North Las Vegas.
While from a distance, the Twin Towers are hard to discern, as people come closer to the street’s intersection, they can see the undeniable, small-scale outline of the World Trade Center, destroyed from the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, which killed almost 3,000 people.
The memorial towers were built in the North Las Vegas home almost a year after the incident by homeowner Rick Heinreich, who wanted to give his wife, Lauri Brown, a native New Yorker, something to remember.
“A year after the towers fell, she was still very sad about the incident,” he said. “I had all these pieces of wood in the backyard, so I thought I’d surprise her and build the towers as a Christmas present to her.”
Heinreich started building the replicas on the first anniversary of the falling of the towers. He finished in December and showed them to his wife for the first time on the morning of Dec. 25, 2002.
“I remember it was the whole month of October and November of 2002 that I wasn’t allowed in the backyard,” Brown said. “Ever since, though, when I see the towers, I can see the love my husband has for me. He built them for me, and that is one of the most special things about them.”
Brown, who moved to Las Vegas from New York in 1981, said she remembers walking by the towers when she worked nearby.
“When the towers fell, I was devastated, not only because I am from New York, and they were just gorgeous to see, but also because America was attacked,” she said. “When I finally saw the towers he built for me, I cried because with them, he gave me back a piece of something that was really taken from all of us.”
Brown added she was overwhelmed by the initial sights of the towers in her backyard because of what the towers signified.
“They have been up there ever since then,” she said. “Every day I look at them I am reminded of where I come from and I can also pay tribute to what happened on that day.”
Although Heinreich has had to make a few adjustments to the towers since building them to maintain them and keep the wind from toppling them over, they have stood strong for almost 13 years. Throughout that time, they have served as a memorial not only to Brown but also to other residents and sometimes even tourists.
“Periodically, we have people who come through the door and just say, ‘Thank you,’ ” Brown said. “We have people who have served in the military come by and say, ‘Thank you,’ and we’ve also had people who know somebody who died during the tragedy and have told us they appreciate us having them in the backyard.”
In the future, Brown said she wants to get all the names of the victims from the attacks that day and add them to the towers to make them a more proper memorial.
“Even though they are in our backyard, and he built them for me, they are really up there for everybody,” she said.
“I built them as a remembrance for my wife because of where she is from,” Heinreich said. “It is part of her life; it is part of my life; and it is a part of all of our lives, so they are up for everybody to see as a symbol of what America is about.”
Contact reporter Maria Agreda at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mjfagre.