Fueled by interest in what the first steel beam to serve as the basis for the new Freedom Tower looks like, after being signed by victims’ families and others yesterday in Battery Park City, I made my way downtown to the former WTC site to see if I could get a glimpse. I couldn’t — it hadn’t arrived yet; and I didn’t have time during lunch to trek all the way over to the Hudson River, where they had had it available for signing yesterday. And, actually, I didn’t have much of a ‘way downtown’ to make, seeing as how I work a whole block and a half south of the WTC site. Still, it was a journey. I never come up this way since that day. I don’t know why really, I just don’t. It’s not like I haven’t had plenty of time to get over it. Last week, we had our office party in a restaurant just down the block from here, and a colleague of mine remarked that she hadn’t been up here much either. Another colleague agreed. And then, a bizzare discussion ensued among my co-workers over whether or not re-construction had actually begun, and, if so, how much progress had been made. No one knew. I realized I was not alone in staying away from here, ridiculously close to our office as it may be.
So, I discovered several new things today. One is that they’ve painted 9/11 flag memoralia on the street signs at Vesey and Church, the southwest corner of the WTC site (which is probably what I’m always going to call it). Another is that the discount designer haven, Century 21, across the street from the site, which I used to frequent, along with everyone else who lived in or visited the city, is celebrating the holidays.
And the third is that Liberty Park Plaza, which once served as a triage unit … well, which once served as an urban park bearing lots of chessboard table-tops where elderly men would play chess and checkers and others would sit and consume their falafal and hot dogs bought from street cart vendors lining the park, and THEN served as a triage unit, is now back to serving as an urban park again, this time seemingly without as many chess tables, but with plenty of marble benches, statues of financial district-like denizens peering into briefcases, greenery, and, right now, even a small Christmas tree. And, it is a perfectly fine place to spend lunch outside, enjoying the mild weather we are currently having.
I also realized that there is an actually rather nice memorial to the WTC and the victims and survivors of 9/11 along the eastern front of the fenced-off construction area, which seems to be attracting many tourists, though not so many that it is a madhouse. I really have no idea what is so difficult about coming up here again. Maybe I will do so more often once construction on the new tower begins. It may be nice to document its progress.