1 WTC: North Tower
2 WTC: South Tower
3 WTC: Vista Hotel
4 WTC: Southeast Plaza Bldg:
5 WTC: Northeast Plaza Building
6 WTC: U.S. Custom House
7 WTC: Tishman Center
1 WFC: Dow Jones
2 WFC: Merrill Lynch
3 WFC: American Express
(north of Winter Garden)
Circumnavigating the frozen zone
Five fortnights walking the perimeter
Tuesday, 6 November: Another sunny Tuesday,
another mayoral election. What a dismal choice
this time--but an easy one. ... The Times notes
that "at least one retail operation displaced
by the attack had signed a lease for new space in
the vicinity: the Amish Market, a food store that had
been at 130 Cedar Street, a block south of the trade
center, is to reopen at 17 Battery Place, about half
a mile away." Now that's an I-told-you-so that
does give me pleasure. I was right about the Amish
Market's adaptability, wrong about the old address,
which I thought was on Liberty. <photo
update, 6 July 2002> I suspect
that a lot of what I've been thinking of next to
the site as Liberty, actually is Cedar. The block
between the WTC and the building where the Amish
store was--one listed in that notice to police as
too dangerous to enter--was undeveloped.
6 to 19 November
Copyright © 2001-2005 Diane Fisher
except photos copyright © 2001-2005
by the respective photographers.
Wednesday, 7 November: Well, somebody
won--best man or worst, I'll withhold judgment till we see
where Bloomberg wants to take the city. We didn't get much
of a preview from his campaign-by-tv-commercials. To my mind,
the big loser is supposed campaign finance reformer John
McCain, who campaigned in NYC--which has as close as you
can get to a model campaign finance law--for a candidate
who ran, outside the law, probably the most expensive
mayoral campaign anywhere ever. $40 million to $60 million
are figures I've seen lately. McCain cost Bloomberg $3000
and I'll never take another word out of that particular
Senator's mouth seriously. I suppose an argument could be
made that a Republican who stands next to a G.O.P.
governor at an endorsement press conference and declares
himself a liberal--as Bloomberg did--could be expected to
bring a little light to the benighted G.O.P. More likely
he just got drilled on what good Republicans are supposed
to say about liberals and will be marginalized like
any other elected Republican who doesn't toe the
fringe-right line. ...
As I munch a muffin in SoHoMade Soup on Varick I watch
fascinated as a backhoe operator uses his rig to skillfully
lift plates that will be laid over whatever it is other
construction workers are doing under Charlton Street at
this corner. Down Hudson Street where the WTC should be
are the arms of two tall cranes against blue sky. I detour
to West Street. Cranes all over the place, several doing
local construction jobs. Piles are being driven into the
river just above Christopher for God knows what. Probably
luxury apartment buildings. The East Side is the lower
extension of Westchester, Battery Park City was built
as an unattached extension of Westchester and now is
going to be extended up the whole lower West Side for
the gas mask market. I'd like to see a big comeback
of crime in the streets.
I've come up to Christopher and West to see how Point Thank
You is doing out there on the median. A guy I take to be the
stalwart is talking with a burly guy wearing a windbreaker
with a native American emblem on the back who looks to me like
a recovery worker. They're it--along with several thank-you
signs. Mr. PTY sends cheers and thumbs-up to every identifiable
recovery vehicle passing either direction, each vehicle waves
or honks thank you in return. <photo
update, late June 2002> It's just
unbelievably touching. The recovery worker--if that's
what he is--crosses the highway and gives me a big
hello as he gets into his SUV. Now Mr. PTY is alone
and I consider joining the watch for an hour or so.
I have the time to spare. But I'm about to lose my
composure bigtime. The gratuitous acts of kindness are
what undo me. I turn into Christopher and head to the
PATH station; with effort I manage not to burst into
tears on the train. I've got to do something about this.
In Hoboken, for-rent and condo-for-sale notices have
replaced MISSING notices. Double concrete barriers block
the end of the street at the old Erie and Lackawanna
terminal, a passenger transportation nexus: ferry
dock, Jersey Transit and PATH trains, and buses.
One set of barriers for each national highest alert
the administration's (s)elected spokesman has declared?
From Frank Sinatra Park--the Hoboken waterfront--I
count five cranes across the river in my neighborhood.
Hoboken street poster, April 2002>
Since Monday, the ferry has been making different stops
in downtown Manhattan. No more scenic tour of the tip of
the island. The ferry stops first at its regular dock at
the WFC. I'm not sure where the path out of there would
lead now and I continue on to the terminus, Pier A, the
Victorian old NYFD pier on the west side of the Battery,
formerly charming white wood with red trim, now steel gray
with green behind a computer manufacturer's huge ad mural.
6 July 2002>
A discreet sign explains which big-bucks businesses
will occupy the pier. For sale: the best of Manhattan.
Not sure why we haven't already seen huge murals hanging
from the Brooklyn Bridge. I count five cranes at the
For the first time, I'm on the river side of West Street
at Rector. Steve, who is on lunch break from jury duty,
tells me he worked for years in a WFC building. He's as
confused as the Italian fellow the other day about which
WTC building is which. The view of the wreckage is better
from this side of West, but I'm not sure whether the debris
south of 6WTC is parts of one or both towers or the Vista
or all of them.
A half block up Greenwich Street from Rector, a guy,
apparently a civilian, calls a cop over to our side of
the street. He asks if the cop is here every day. She
says no. He tells her anyway what he'd been going
to--that she should be wearing a mask. She nods as
he makes his case at some length, then crosses back
to her side. A flatbed exits bearing two twisted
girders and stops in front of me. The driver tells the
cop the trucks could get out easier if she'd back up
her diagonally parked squad car. He chains down his load
and drives out. The squad car doesn't budge, the cop
remains maskless, another truck moves up in line.
I'm peering into the trench on Rector Street. Such a
bunch of spaghetti you've never seen. Construction
foreman Joe D. greets me heartily. What's down there?
I ask. Phone, water, gas, steam, electricity--you
name it! says Joe.
I've described almost none of the aural backdrop to
what I've been writing these many weeks. Immediately
below a second-floor office where I once worked,
a subway station was being extended; deafening
construction racket continued for years. At some point
during that time I was sitting with friends in a bar on
Long Island. "I can't hear or talk over this noise!"
one friend shouted in exasperation. Until he said that,
I hadn't noticed that our conversation had risen to a
screaming pitch because of a garbage truck grinding at
ear-splitting level immediately outside the open door
next to the booth where we sat--or that the extension
of the Christopher Street subway station had trained
me--for all time--to block ongoing steady loud noise.
And ongoing steady loud noise is the frozen zone's sound
track. On the perimeter one can't hear the machinery at
ground zero. The constants on the perimeter--above the
usual city din--are shouts, jack-hammers, generators,
heavy trucks, frequent sirens, and occasional choppers.
At street level near that second-floor window that
was broken on the west side of Broadway near Dey the
shattered plate glass window of the New York Stocking
Exchange--a sexy skivvies store--is still behind the
metal grill-covered entrance <photo
update, June 2002>. Taped to the
front of this store and others that still are full
of dust and debris are new notices:
"Attention: store or restaurant owners!
I browse some stores and head home. The show on Prince
Street has closed for the day and some of the volunteers
are having a drink in front before heading out themselves.
<photo update, April 2002>
Do you have cats here? If so, the ASPCA will take
care of them for you for free until you can
take them back. Or, if you no longer want to keep
them, we will place them up for adoption. Please
call the ASPCA [numbers ...]. Thank you and best
Friday, 9 November: After not seeing him for
years, I run into Steve, the ex-editor who was working
on the Green campaign, again in a photolab on Chambers
Street. The loss leaves him out of work and in a real
hurt, he says. One of the good guys--he'll land on
his feet, I hope. The other customer I talk with is an
expat true to her French genes: she's beautiful and chic.
The gray dust coated her apartment on East 46th Street, was
in her hair, on her clothes, in her eyes and nose and mouth,
she says, but is not so bad now. She was in Turkey at the
time of the quake, and is beginning to wonder. ... She gets
her news from Belgium, Quebec, and Paris--not the same news
Americans get, she tells me. She'd mentioned that she's
back in school for a year, and I ask what she's studying.
Mortuary science. I might be tempted to say Only in New
York, but she was a practicing mortician in Paris till
an American chain bought her funeral home and laid her off;
she's back in school only to get New York accreditation.
How did she (of all people, I mean to imply) get into such
work? She lived near a funeral home, was out of work, and
asked for a job. ... I have no other business to transact
near the frozen zone, and return home without walking
farther down Broadway.
Monday, 12 November: Two months yesterday, the
end of week nine today. I need to do a couple of errands
downtown, but they'll have to wait. I started getting
a cold Saturday night, went to Stephen's party anyway,
and I've felt yukky ever since. I do not have anthrax. ...
Crikey! How much more of this can the NYFD and NYPD take?
Another passenger airliner crash into occupied New York
City buildings--this time houses in the uniformed
forces' front yard, in Belle Harbor,
out in the Rockaways. Friends of Ed's and mine lived
in Belle Harbor when we all were right out of school,
but I don't know anyone there now, or any Dominican New
Yorkers, not even friends of friends. What a terrible
day for those communities. More dead than at the
Pentagon. Email from Jean, who lives in southern Florida:
"I spent the day wondering
if I should make a phone call to my next door neighbor,
Capt. C. & Laura (his cute wife). What would I say,
one way or the other? Finally, this afternoon the school
bus arrived, and Brian C. appeared and walked past
our house to meet his kids. Thank God, he is HERE!
he is alive! ... George rushes out to shake his
hand, chat and walk to the bus to meet the boys. ...
Brian walks slowly home w/ his boys, their heads
down--sad, depressed or who knows how they really
feel today ... it could have been Brian's flight,
one that he regularly flies."
The way we are, 12 November 2001.
From the window behind my monitor, I was used to
seeing airliners constantly just after taking off
and just before landing at EWR. These days, and
nights, Newark air traffic is so light, from where
I sit you wouldn't even know an airport is there. ...
The NYPost went to the wood with news that they've
spied Bloomberg consorting with known liberals. So
satisfying to know that the Post didn't endorse
him--too independent for Rupert's taste, probably--and
Donald Trump endorsed Green. Howard Rubenstein must be
busy trying to generate obligations.
W. actually said the P word at the U.N.
yesterday. Good for whoever programmed him to do
it! I'd like to check Ha'aretz to catch the moderate
Israeli reaction, but my Internet access went south
Saturday. On the rare occasions I've been able to
establish a connection since, it won't hold. My ISP
swears the trouble must be my PC or the phone company.
A different PC behaves identically. So much is going
on underground in this nabe it could well be the phone
company. I don't know when I'll be able to upload
this--or get normal service again.
Seems to be some progress on the war front. Foreign critics
who like to distinguish between U.S. policy and the
American people's wishes must be having a hard time making
that distinction these days with polls showing 90 percent
popular support--even mine--for self-defense. (Arundhati
Roy's explanation: A malevolent government has drugged
"a distraught, confused people" with vitamins
or anti-depressants.) Wow! There's Nelson Mandela on tv
declaring his support. Folks I asked Saturday night
who I expected to have strong reservations are worried only
about civil liberties--as am I. What folks were talking
about was what they'd've been talking about if 11 September
had been just another day. Nice party.
But, as I write this, the fires are burning at two
ground zeros and I can't breathe through my nose.