It’s tough to top the beauty of New York’s Statue of Liberty: the sheer size, her grandeur, the views from all sides… Trix, Jack and I reached Liberty Island Friday afternoon at the perfect time: temps were oh-so-kind in the 50s and we walked around and around until the last ferry at 5 p.m., just at the peak of dusk. Few words are necessary here. Just take in one of the city’s finest sites. * Jack gets goosed!Would the real Lady Liberty please stand up?Smile!And now the ferry ride back, complete with swoon-inducing Manhattan views, including a clear view of the up-and-coming World Trade Center.
Taken from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade—absolutely mobbed with professional photogs capturing what must be considered an idyllic view—at 9:11 p.m. September 11, 2011.
I must admit, I still find it curious that the lights honoring the Twin Towers are not remotely close to the actual site… Below, an astonishing image: Photo: Tim Sklyarov via Flickr.
Better than any politco’s speech I could have heard today and more impactful than any sensationalist television special, I have found a moment of hopeful reflection on this 10th anniversary of 9/11: Walking down to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade just before dusk, I noticed, for the first time, the WTC Freedom Tower peeking through the horizon. That gave me chills.Meanwhile, a large group gathered as a group of talented youngsters offered a presentation of 9/11 reflections… while just down the Promenade was a lovely wreath inscribed “Broken Sky.”
This is perhaps the one day of the year where I’d love to read nothing but nonsense about Justin Bieber. Along with the political grandstanding, the endless tearing off of the scab from a terrible event 10 years ago and the fact that the impossibly politically strangled World Trade Center site has yet to come close to resurrection, September 11 is a day I dread.
One year ago, I wrote here that it’s time to “acknowledge quietly, privately.” But instead, as The Village Voice reports, on this 10th anniversary of 9/11, in addition to Presidents Obama and Bush, “Governors Cuomo and Christie, among other politicians, have been jockeying with the mayor for pride of place at the Bloomberg-run ceremony to score valuable camera time at a charged event that’s valuable to politicians—much as the 40-plus TV specials, complete with ‘investigations’ of twins lost in the twin towers and endless ads featuring terror porn of the planes striking the towers are somehow supposed to be in the ‘public interest’.”
Ten years ago, from the rooftop of my Brooklyn Heights apartment building, I saw the Twin Towers fall first-hand. Today, I am so very weary of watching them collapse again and again under the guise of “news” or “special reports.”
This year’s onslaught of “anniversary” recollections has drenched the point of dignity, instead drowning in absurdity: I don’t really care what the now-10-year-old children of 9/11 remember; the “unborn of 9/11” have nothing to do with the actual events of the day; “the women of 9/11” are no less relevant than the men. It’s niche upon hyper-niche… nothing but ratings and hype and sensationalism. September 11 has become little more than an issue of OK! magazine, with the added indignity that it is all “based on real events.”
Now… can we please stop reading the names of the deceased? For god’s sake, let the dead rest in peace (along with the rest of New York). Might we stop calling it Ground Zero? And pray tell, what reason is there for an “official 9/11 Memorial Flag”? Only those selling souvenirs could possibly find that relevant.
Then there’s the on-site memorial—an outrageously large hole in the footprint of the original Twin Towers—the most gruesome, distasteful remembrance of those who lost their lives I can imagine. I find it a monumental overstatement that overshadows hope this nation has for looking toward a fearless future at the site of the Freedom Tower and its alleged someday sister buildings (not to mention the primarily taxpayer-funded $1 billion price tag for the waterfall memorial and accompanying underground museum).
Until we treat September 11 as a personal remembrance, sans the tirade of headlines and replays of photographs and video clips, America—and more so, New York—is being forced to relive the past over and again.
My grandmother’s only son (my mother’s brother), an Air Force pilot, was killed in WWII—the uncle I never knew. I imagine she mourned his death for the rest of her life—but without demanding national fanfare or his name shouted out on TV every year or certainly a gargantuan pit “to remember”—or more troubling, to visit his remains.
It is time to move on.
Last week, it was concrete workers whining that $80,000 (along with 100% of their benefits taken care of) was a reason to walk off the World Trade Center site for an illegal strike. Then 45,000 Verizon landline workers took to the picket lines, daring the company to cut their excessive benefits—even as Verizon has lost more than 50% of its landline subscribers in the past five years.
On Tuesday, 60 minimum wage workers at Central Park’s Boathouse Restaurant walked off the job carrying signs that read “Stop the Discrimination, Illegal Firings and Harassment,” complaining, “They treat us like we are nothing.” The fact is, a number were laid off because business at the Boathouse sucks.
In Pittsburgh, 50 drivers, mechanics and service workers with the Beaver County Transit Authority have voted unanimously to strike after rejecting a proposed contract that doesn’t protect whopping overtime pay.
What the hell is going on here? Have these entitled workers missed the news flash that national unemployment is locked at 9+%, while economists warn that a second grand recession following the 2007 collapse is lurking? The New York Times reports, “The economy is much weaker than it was at the outset of the last recession in December 2007, with most major measures of economic health—jobs, incomes, output and industrial production—worse today than then. And growth has been so weak that almost no ground has been recouped, even though a recovery technically started in June 2009.”
Get a grip, people. Be thankful you have jobs and recognize the reality that the 1950s are over. You should be partially paying for benefits. You don’t automatically deserve overtime. And many businesses continue to suffer as the Second Great Depression lingers on and on. I cannot imagine feeling so entitled that I would walk away from a well-paying job and risk my financial well being because I’ve been spoiled for so many years. Welcome to 2011.
Talk about working against the very spirit of New York City. Just as concrete workers and carpenters ended their illegal three-day walkout at the World Trade Center because they claimed $37.50 an hour (nearly $80,000 a year) was not enough to make a living, the owner of the nearby Millennium Hilton has filed an $8 million lawsuit against Port Authority and Silverstein Properties because—waaaaah—the construction noise is loud.
Instead of letting the long-delayed building ever have a prayer of a chance of being completed, CDL LLC, which owns the 55-story, 569-room luxury hotel overlooking the WTC, claims hotel guests are fleeing because of construction racket.
According to the New York Daily News, the suit laments, “CDL understands and appreciates the importance of rebuilding the WTC site, thus it has never requested that the construction activities cease.” But it is demanding noise-reduction measures that would make things easier on hotel guests—or rather, CDL’s profit margins.
Ironically, the hotel’s web site brags on its home page: “The Millenium Hilton is proud to be a part of the World Trade Center Rebuild. The New York Post also notes that its proximity to Ground Zero has long been part of the hotel’s marketing plan—and that the Hilton is sold out solid for the 9/11 10-year anniversary weekend.
The Post interviewed a guest who works for Goldman Sachs that confirmed the noise is loud but expected—and tolerable, given the alternatives of a slower rebuild or no rebuild at all. “People who stay here just go with it,” Jim Davis said. “Rebuilding the World Trade Center is worth the noise.”
Meanwhile, in other shameful WTC news, a group of atheists has filed its own lawsuit to stop display of a cross—two intersecting steel beams that survived when the twin towers collapsed Sept. 11, 2001. It is seen as an iconic symbol to many.
Dave Silverman, president of the extremist atheist group, however, says that “the cross has become a Christian icon and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross.”
Talk about a head full of rocks. With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 less than two months away, hundreds of spoiled unionized concrete workers have walked off the job at the already shamefully delayed World Trade Center site, insisting that a well-paying job during the second Great Depression is less important than making sure their new contract includes significant wage increases.
Without them, work on the WTC’s transit hub has come to a dead halt, in turn forcing 650 dedicated workers to be temporarily laid off. The concrete workers have the audacity to be threatening a strike Tuesday—which is illegal at sites where developers and unions have inked project labor agreements.With statewide unemployment is locked in at 9%+, they should be utterly ashamed of themselves.
Louis Coletti, Building Trades Employers’ Assn. prez, said, “The World Trade Center site should not be held as a bargaining chip in these negotiations.”
While the destruction of the World Trade Center in September 2001 will forever mark a blemish on New York City history, I was surprised to learn that there are passionate detractors surrounding the building of the original complex in the mid-1960s, which included the demolition of 13 square blocks—some 60 acres—of low-rise buildings along the West side of lower Manhattan. The property was home to hundreds of commercial and industrial tenants, property owners, small businesses and about 100 residents.
On the east side of the island, near the fish market, room was made for a new ramp onto the Brooklyn Bridge and for expansion of Pace College. On the west side, the 13 blocks were demolished for the WTC. These photographs of an NYC ghost town were later published in a book, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan.
When you go to the World Trade Center’s official webbie and click on “progress,” the first line is, “There is a new spirit at the World Trade Center site.” Yes, indeed… but I’d rather see building than good intentions.
According to the site, at first building 1 World Trade Center, steel has risen to the 68th floor, glass has been installed to the 41st floor and concrete floors have risen to the 62nd floor. Claims are that a floor a week is progressing upward.
The two concrete holes you see in the photos below are the imprint of the original WTC, which are now going to be vast cavernous reflecting pools, tagged the National September 11 Memorial & Museum—forever reminding us of what once was, instead of taking a step into the future. I find that utterly gruesome.
1 WTC was supposed to be opened this year, but the latest delays have now pushed that to January 2014. Sadly, because of politics, finances, legalities and constant compromises on behalf of demanding families who continue to grieve 10 years on, I’ll believe it when I see it. As for the remaining three high-rises in the grand plan, I remain wholly pessimistic that they will reach the sky during my lifetime.
See The New York Times’ detailed progress report below the jump.
Well, it didn’t quite turn out this way… This 1910s postcard from Walker Evans imagines the future of New York, “The City of Skyscrapers,” offering a system of elevated trams that cut through buildings, massive skywalks, rickety but plentiful air travel, few cars on ground level and—the reality—a landscape of proud towering skyscrapers as far as the eye can see.
The back reads: “Future New York will be pre-eminently the city of skyscrapers. The first steel frame structure regarded as a skyscraper was the Tower Building at 50 Broadway, a 10-story structure 129 feet high. There are now over 1,000 buildings of that height in Manhattan. The best known skyscrapers are the Singer Building, the Metropolitan Building and the Woolworth Tower, which towers above them all and rises to a height of 790 feet. The proposed Pan American Building is to be 801 feet high.”
This reminds me of another fantasy of “future New York”: rebuilding the World Trade Center. The once-deemed Freedom Tower was supposed to reach rooftop level by the end of 2010 with topping out in 2011. Estimated completion of the tower was then pushed back to 2013. Today, 10 years after toppling, it stands all of 12 stories. Seems to me we were much more accomplished in the 1910s than the 2010s.