Trip to Ground Zero, NYC, June 1-2, 2002
I finally made it down to the city in June to see Ground Zero for myself. As you may recall, I was not in the country when the airplane attacks occured. (My Captain's Log of 3/11/2002, "God is in our laughter," covers this). In fact, the Thursday just before I went down was officially the final day that they would look for remains. Cleanup continues, but at a much slower pace. In fact, they are working hard and fast to rebuild something there. There are many schools of thought on what should go there. I know many people have seen the Oklahoma City Memorial, and there is a lot of talk as to what sort of Memorial would be appropriate for this site. There is also fierce American pride at work; and it is unlikely that this sprawling 16 acre site won't hold a building of some sort. Perhaps just one. I guess we'll see.
So, I snapped some shots. I'd like to share them with you here on this site.
We'll start off with a couple that I didn't take.
I don't know who took this one, but it is from the top of an adjacent building. It shows very well the destruction from pretty close to ground level. I'm sure this is well documented in other places, but I wanted to include it here to set the stage for the later photogrpahs.
This was taken by NOAA. They flew 5 missions, totalling 16 hours over Ground Zero. The destruction boggles the mind. In the lower right hand corner, you can see a green patch. This is where the Seaman's Episcopal Church is. Amazingly, it wasn't touched. There is a cemetery immediately behind the church, which is the World Trade Center Side. The temporary viewing platform that they set up runs the length of Fulton Street, between the church and the adjacent Hilton building.
What would New York be without everyone on the streets, selling things? Every inch of available curbside is filled with vendors selling the same exact things. Keychains. T-Shirts. Framed photographs of the skyline as it was before the towers were swept from the face of the Earth. You can get socks, too. If you walk to Ground Zero to visit the viewing platform (it is free, by the way), be prepared to take a 6 block walk to the South Shore Seaport. They hand out tickets that are stamped with a time frame on them there. In that time frame, you report to the viewing stand and get in line. They clear the viewing area about every 10 minutes and let a new group up. My hint to you is take the subway down to the Brooklyn Bridge station, get off, take a look at City Hall Park and walk directly to the Seaport. Have lunch and a beer outside, and then walk up to Ground Zero.
This is a shot of the church from the viewing platform. You can't get inside the church, as it is set up strictly for the rescue workers and volunteers use. Meals are prepared and served, or they can grab a cold drink. Or counseling. Or prayer. Whatever they need.
All around the church, there is an 8 foot iron fence. Covering every inch of this fence are memorials, flags, t-shirts of fire companies, candles, photographs, poems, memories, exclamations of damnation. Someone made this praying figure.
And here, a t-shirt from a local fire company hangs on the fence.
Not long ago, a fireman suggested a one word epitaph to summarize America's feelings towards the event of September 11th. He suggested "Unbelievable." The news agencies clamoured. Politicians nodded sagely, and yes men almost broke their necks in their eagerness to applaud the wisdom here.
I'm sorry. I guess I'm a bit of a cynic. I find this sort of cowardice completely believable. And moreover, there will be more of this sort of blind, stupid, unjustifiable behavior before this is over. You want one word? Let's try idiocy. Let's try reprehensible.
I find this simply Inexcusable.
The viewing platform is constructed of plywood. Every inch of it has someone's hand on it. In every language.
This building, completely covered in black, as if it were a widow at her husbands funeral, suffered a lot of damage. The cover is mostly for protection of the interior, as all of the exterior glass and facework is repaired. The sign is for the rescuers, and reads: "Thank you for never giving up. We will never forget them. We will never forget you. Love, The WTC Families. We Love NY."
This is a shot of the Hilton, which stands across Fulton Street from the church.
This is my best shot of what Ground Zero looked like that day. The pit is now completely clear of debris. [Coming soon to a town near you! I'm sorry for this aside, but local news in my area is making a huge deal over scrap metal from the site that was purchased by a local business man. We also have some steel beams that someone wants to make into a memorial. I'm sorry, really I am, but you know what? America needs exactly ONE memorial. And it belongs in New York City. Not in Anytown, USA. Her proud beams need not be scattered to the four winds to appear on Main Street, Wherever and sandlots where children play. Ok, ok. I'll stop. But it's just so side show. I believe the meaning becomes diluted.]
I imagine this man is a war veteran. He fought our wars exclusively on foreign soil. Until now. It's a new kind of America. Do you feel that change in the air? Or are our citizens back to their normal routine? Hair salons, summer blockbuster movies, the new boy in school, soccer camp, swimming lessons and vacations to exotic places? Have we forgotten already?
A view of the wall of the viewing platform. Impossible to see in this picture, but it is covered with signatures. Here, they have hung vases.
The names of all of the victims adorn this poster. It is covered with a sheet of plastic, so you can write on it.
9/11 Rescuer's Online Memorial
DownTownNYC - Rebuild?
Ani DiFranco's poem.