Wednesday, September 10, 2008



(Sept. 10, Chambers Street, Lower Manhattan, NYC ) In 1966 after clearing out dozens of square blocks of Lower Manhattan neighborhoods including hundreds of apartment buildings, small business and the famous “Radio Row”. This site was called a hole. Once construction began in earnest the hole became “the bathtub”. This referred to the purpose of constructing a thick cement and re-bar lining inside the hole to keep the waters of the Hudson River out. 200 feet deep, 16 acres in greatest dimension, this bathtub would become the World Trade Center Plaza. Two of those 16 acres were designated for two twin towers, towers that would soar 110 stories above the ground; they would be, for a time, once completed, the tallest structures of their kind.

The World Trade Center, Tower One and Tower Two, North and South Tower, not side by side but offset: adjacent but not inline, identical upright rectangles of steel and glass. Novel, revolutionary methods and equipment were utilized, often at great risk, to construct these building which would become the defining exclamation points on the already world famous New York City skyline. Open for business in 1976 they soon became just another part of the landscape for the native as for those who came to Lower Manhattan to work. Still, no matter how often you saw them, no matter how idly you pondered them, they retained a certain magnetic appeal even for the most jaded of New Yorkers.

For 10 years New Yorkers watched the immense towers rise slowly, steadily but surely from within that bath tub. 25 years later, the world would watch them collapse each separately in a matter of seconds, floor hitting floor in a pancake effect that took the lives of thousands and, within that roiling, boiling cloud of dust, smoke and debris many souls passed through unnoticed. After the dust settled, the recovery efforts ceased, the massive task of the clean up began. A year after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, “The Pit” was all that remained. Some in the media referred to it as “Ground Zero”. That sounds exciting if you weren’t there, nearby or soon to be within.

For some it became “The Pit” and to them it will remain so. It will remain an ugly scar, an unavoidable reminder of that day and of what we have and have not accomplished since. Perhaps the City of New York should simply fill the pit with cement, pave over it and make it a 16 acre amusement park: ferris wheels and rides, maybe a roller coaster. A sprawling network of midways lined with tourist shops selling WTC memorabilia, food, postcards and T-shirts. Think of the possibilities.

Essentially by having done nothing because of the labyrinth of special, narrow minded, competing interest groups and constituencies, the awkward state and local bureaucratic system, money, money and simple lack of guidance, nothing has been done since the cleanup. It has become just another destination for the tour buses to pass by. It has become a spectacle, just another site to see, have your picture taken at and purchase a souvenir.

To some it is extraordinarily expensive real estate; to others, sacred ground, a holy place, a massive grave for so many who never had a real grave. It is a disgrace and shame that not even a permanent, respectful yet modest memorial has yet been erected marking this site as one of innocent deaths and intentional sacrifices. Some of those who gave the most that day, be they banker or broker, secretary or waitress, busboy or janitor, Port Authority Police, NYPD, EMS or FDNY took their heroism with them to the great beyond. Their stories will never be known. Some were never positively identified; others identified by a piece of jewelry, a finger, a helmet or via DNA. Seven years is too long a time to keep a wound un-sutured, a broken bone un-set, broken hearts without comfort and so much innocent, pure, sacrificial death survived without closure.

The nation forgets or has an abstract image of that day and the televised events. Television does not broadcast real time sounds as they really sound, smell, taste, the “feel”, “sense” or rather “senselessness “ of a place: that place, “The Pit”, in particular. And that is fine; it is not for them to document, televise or recall. Only someone close can write an honest eulogy.

But for those who do remember the smells, sounds, tastes, emotions, frustrations and sadness of that day, it is, at times, unbearable, on a daily basis painful, to have an itch that cannot be scratched, a year long ache that begins to crescendo after Labor Day and wane slowly thereafter.

A prize fighter carries his scars as badges of honor, as a sign of the warrior. This City, our City, my City does not need to do so. This wound should have been addressed long ago. Seven years is a long time although, at times, on sleepless, sweaty nights, it seems like only yesterday.

Many divorces result from a marital “seven year itch.” If only memories could be divorced from the rememberer.

Note: This was posted under the Brooding Cynyc by-line but is the product of several others who opt to remain anonymous.

Copyright © 2008 TBC All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2008 BronxWest Consulting

No comments: