Death Monuments and Beers on the Water

Steve has worked in the building directly across the street from One World Trade Center for two years, but we’ve never been to his office. It’s not the place where one brings dirty children. A couple of weeks ago, we went anyway and checked out the whole area.

While I’ve been to the seaport and other downtown spots, this was the first time that I’ve been to the WTC since 9/11. Right after it happened, I couldn’t go down to help with the relief effort, because I was pregnant. Later, I had no interest in looking at the gaping hole in the ground and getting depressed. I was a little horrified at what that area has become. Two blocks of death.

The footprint of the old buildings are now water features that stretch out for two blocks. And there’s a museum that’s sloped like it’s midway through collapse. NO! Just to the side there’s the new transportation center that looks like the sunburnt bones of a mythical creature. There are vertibrae and ribs! And when you’re inside, the bones continue, so you feel like Jonah in the dead whale.

People died over there. A lot of people. Everybody else was scared shitless. And I want to forget about it.

But once you get past the two blocks of death, that area of the city is happy capitalism. Between 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, downtown wasn’t looking too pretty for a long time. Now, it’s a big amusement park. There are building cranes everywhere. Steve’s building has a fancy-pants mall in the basement with Hermes and Louboutin stores, aka gift stores for guilty stockbrokers. There’s a cafe that stretches out along the water.

People want to live right next store to their offices, so half the buildings going up are residential. There’s a mile deep Whole Foods with perfect red apples.

I showed the kids where George Washington took his first oath of office. We went into Trinty Church. We said hello to the Stock Exchange. We had beers at a cool joint with views of the Statue of Liberty.

2 thoughts on “Death Monuments and Beers on the Water

  1. I’m with you on visiting the WTC site. I’ve been there 3 times since 2001. The first time I went was traumatizing. The second time was because my family wanted to go, and the third (just this spring) I met my cousin at the site because her downtown walking tour finished up there. It’s still difficult and uncomfortable. I also had no interest in tours of concentration camps when I was in Germany. Horrible things happened in these places, and to remember them only because of these horrible things feels wrong.

    And yet I love cemeteries. Maybe because cemeteries are also about lives, often lives that ended far more peacefully. And I love Trinity Church. One of my favorite Trinity Church stories is about all the people who visited Charlotte Temple’s grave in the 19th century. Who was Charlotte Temple? A fictional character from a 1791 novel. People believed she was real and went to Trinity Churchyard to mourn her. Fandom, bringing the crazy since the 1800s!

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