LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) --
An expansion project on the Las Vegas Strip is leading to a difficult decision for MGM Resorts.
A new retail, bar and dining complex at the New York New York is pushing out a memorial built in honor of 9-11 first responders.
The display started in late 2001 when people would spontaneously tie T-shirts to the railing.
Eventually, the shirts numbered in the thousands, and a glass and metal case was built that looked like it would be permanent.
New York-New York is working with local first responders and the UNLV special collections department to decide where the shirts should go.
More than a decade ago, an organic movement turned into a local shrine.
That was 2002. For the previous year, people had started bringing first responder T-shirts to the railing by the Statue of Liberty. First one, then by the dozen, hundreds and then thousands.
David Schwartz was new to UNLV special collections when the call came from New York-New York management.
“They had these materials being left there and they didn't know how to care for them and as experts could we do that,” Schwartz said.
Many of the T-shirts bore messages and represented raw emotion.
“And I think they're really a document of how everyday people reacted to the tragedies of 9-11,” Schwartz said.
Working together, the university and resort developed a permanent exhibit, with shirts in rotation, encased in glass. Permanent until plans came together for the sidewalk attractions.
Those plans do not include the memorial, which is now in the work zone. So once more the resort called UNLV and for now, the future location of the shirts is unknown.
“Because we're still in the process of determining exactly what's going to happen. But we definitely support them in what they're doing,” Schwartz said.
New York-New York declined an on-camera interview for now but provided this statement:
"We are working with representatives of the First Responder community in Las Vegas to identify and determine an appropriate and permanent placement of the memorial to the victims of September 11th."