Our first night in town, we went to Manhattan for dinner. It was late on Friday; while every imaginable fast food joint was open, many of the nicer restaurants were not.
So we walked, passing restaurant after restaurant that wasn’t quite suitable. (By the way, there is tons of construction going on in downtown Manhattan, probably left over from the damage to the World Trade Center area. Be careful.) At last, we found a nice little park with lights in the sidewalk, so we turned down it.
I realized fairly quickly that there was no building in front of me. This was strange. For blocks, it had been cheek-to-jowl buildings, with hardly an inch left between them, and with each one pushing as far out into the sidewalk as was feasible.
As we grew closer, I could see the mesh fence around the area in front of us. Without meaning to, we’d wound up at the footprints of the World Trade Center.
There was no wreckage left, except to the slowly-being-renovated storefronts all around. The site was neatly sealed off by a tall fence that left plenty of space for passers-by to look down into the five-story hole that was left, like gums after a bad root canal. At the bottom, the subway has started running again.
We walked the periphery. In places, flowers had been tucked into the fence; it’s only been two weeks since the anniversary. Further down, “Post No Bills” was painted in white on black board fencework, and inside each white letter message after message had been left for the dead and mourning.
To go round, we had to walk up and across a skyway, into another part of the World Trade Center complex that had survived the horror well, and then up the street to another skyway. The other side was much like the first, and the front, looking out onto the street, held an art exhibition, pictures from 9/11. My favorite: a man holding up a sign that said “O+”, clearly on the day of or shortly after the towers fell; he offered up his blood to any who needed it.
The oddest thing, nowhere on the site except for once did I feel anything creepy. The whole place was vital and alive, being reborn. It’s beautiful in its strength, showing that the heart of New York still beats strong.
The one spot? I backed up onto dirt. The dirt itself was creepy. I can’t describe it further.
[tags]september 11,new york,world trade center, ground zero, manhattan[/tags]