NEW YORK (AP) _ Private donations to build the Sept. 11 memorial have jumped to over $300 million, more than half of it raised in the six months since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took over fundraising.
Bloomberg announced the new figures at a World Trade Center Memorial Foundation board meeting Tuesday.
Bloomberg became chairman of the foundation last October, with private fundraising stalled at just over $130 million for the memorial to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Donations that have come in since he took over include American Express' $10 million gift. The mayor has earlier pledged $10 million of his own money; 66 gifts in all to build the memorial are above $1 million, the foundation said.
``Every contribution, both large and small, helps make this national memorial a reality,'' the mayor said in a prepared statement.
The foundation took in about $50 million more in the past two months, despite an ad campaign started by families opposing the way the mayor has said names of the dead should be listed around the memorial.
More than 32,650 people have contributed, the foundation said.
The foundation initially set a $500 million fundraising goal, then cut it to $300 million for construction of the memorial. Bloomberg raised the goal to $350 million to include an initial endowment.
It still will cost well over $700 million to build the ``Reflecting Absence'' design, which sets twin reflecting pools representing the fallen towers above the spots where they stood. Government agencies have pledged the rest of the construction costs.
The reflecting pools will include cascading waterfalls and are to be surrounded by a grove of oak and sweetgum trees, while a museum is planned for below ground. The memorial is under construction and expected to open in 2009.