Circumnavigating the frozen zone              
Five fortnights on the perimeter             

Updates and corrections

Fortnight one: 11 to 24 September
Fortnight two: 25 September to 8 October
Fortnight three: 9 to 22 October
Fortnight four: 23 October to 5 November
Fortnight five: 6 to 19 November
Copyright © 2002-2005 Diane Fisher.

You can't always get what you need, but sometimes, without even trying, you do get what you want. Nobody ever volunteered the $800 I shamelessly solicited 2 November for a digital camera, but I chanced on a point-and-shoot 640x480 close-out at the downtown Broadway Odd-Job for $30, on sale that fine spring day for $24, putting it in my price range. I wanted a digital camera, but needed one that could compensate somewhat for my lack of expertise. Please bear with me and my reluctant compromise: I've since--during the last months of the clean-up--chronicled photographically some places in the frozen zone and beyond that I wrote about. Below are some of my snapshots, and other updates and corrections. <Update: I had to bite the bullet. Got a refurbished 2x optical zoom, 2megapixel antique with a high-capacity RAM card shortly before mid-July.>

A fortnight walking the perimeter
Notes: 11 September 2001, before, during, and after


6 July 2002: The damaged WTC plaza sculpture, unrepaired, now is a tourist attraction at Battery Park.

2 June 2002: WFC, beyond WTC site, from intersection of Cortlandt Street and Broadway.

Note, 30 June 2002: An oddity I neglected to mention about the few minutes that I was still home after the attack on 11 September: The avenue I live almost next to is a downtown emergency route, and I waited to hear a wall of siren wails. That never happened--the first surreality after news of the attack. In hindsight, I'd guess that the plan for another downtown disaster must have closed down West Street and the East River drive at once and had all emergency vehicles head straight to the river drives where they'd meet no crosstown traffic.


The views downtown, May 2002, from the first pier--25--where I perched ...

... and, April 2002, from Pier 40 at Houston Street--Woolworth Building, left in each shot. The decorative traffic lights are new. Behind the lamppost, the Travelers building (the main reason for its unpopularity should be obvious). The towers loomed in the dip in the skyline between it and, right, WFC/Battery Park City buildings.

I watched from between these piers the evening the "Tribute in Light" twin laser beams were first lighted. A great idea that when acted on was a let-down. ... No groundswell of cries for reinstallation.


June 2002: One Fifth [Avenue] outlined against the sky over Washington Square Park and downtown New York. You may not see the park's arch, a half-block south, behind the trees, but hijacker pilot Mohammed Atta was flying so low Martin Amis claimed that Atta pulled up to avoid striking the arch.  ...  Uh, I don't think so.


Elsewhere in Greenwich Village, the high school where my oft-visited polling place is located has one entrance (left) opposite a federal building that houses among other agencies the heavily-guarded INS and the other opposite the memorial trees next to Walker Park.



Correction, 9 February 2002: I wrote (and today have excised): "A friend, a photographer who lives in Hoboken, was as fond of the WTC as an architectural phenomenon as I was not. She has a zillion shots of it. If I don't mourn the buildings themselves, Ginny surely does." Wrong! While Ginny certainly has a zillion shots of the WTC, I unintentionally misrepresented her feelings about it pre-attack:

"Actually, I hated those buildings, and more than once idly wondered what it would take to bring them down. One question I'd rather not have had answered ..."

Ginny and a lot of other Hobokenites fought hard for public access when waterfront development plans were being drawn, and in defense of the pier's military-formation trees she adds:

"I know you hate the trees on Pier A, but on a hot summer day they offer shady environs--walking around that pier every morning, I love starting on the north, tree-lined side and finishing on the south, tree-free section. On mornings when I get there earlier than my friends, I follow by walking the diagonal, heading from southwest to northeast, then go south again.

"You should see it at dawn.

Downtown Manhattan skyline from Hoboken's riverwalk, 1 May 2002 (not at dawn)

6 April 2002: The planting area next to City Hall where lightning bugs swarmed two weeks after the attack again came to life to charming effect in spring--along with patches and parks all over the city--with joyous swarms of daffodils and tulips of all hues, a gift from the Dutch nursery B&K Bulbs and the city of Rotterdam.

The front pages in the Verizon truck rear window 12 June and the Con Ed truck side window 22 July 2002--if you can't make them out--are the Daily News and NYPost "Wanted" "posters" with the photo of he whose name no longer is spoken by the Bushies, whose swaggering machismo has been more effective so far at slaughtering Afghan  wedding parties than at bringing him to justice. [photo]

Fortnight two: 25 September to 8 October


April 2002: The view down Sixth Avenue from Prince, the Millenium [sic] Hotel and One Liberty Plaza sticking up in the middle of the avenue in the distance.


18 June 2002: Building on West Street below Canal where a Union Jack has hung proudly from a fire escape throughout the saga. Under the streetlamp, in the distance over at Sixth and Walker, work seems to have been completed on those Buck Rogers-ish transmitters. Actually, they're also visible through the bare branches (between Marcia's and Sylvia's buildings) in the shot above down Sixth Avenue from Prince.

17 July 2002

Update, 30 June 2002: Since losing its prized transmitter atop the WTC north tower, my favorite radio station has retained its license by broadcasting apparently from a bent coat hanger atop its new building--the studio being the only support Columbia University provides its FM station, on-air types often said in the past. The signal doesn't reach my neighborhood, but a one-sentence item in the Daily News (my only source of info since the station seems to be blissfully Web-oblivious) last week reported that WKCR hopes to have a stronger transmitter working by midsummer. Having missed the annual Bach festival at Christmas, the early music festival last weekend, and more jazz birthday festivals than I want to think about, if that means not in time for the first Louis Armstrong birthday festival, on and around  4 July, I hope it at least means in time for the second, on and around  4 August. <24 July: Still hoping for 4 August.>
That item would've been reason to rejoice in any event, but is even better news since the city's most prosperous public radio station treated the WTC attack as an opportunity to abdicate its responsibility to quality broadcasting: WNYC-FM has replaced daytime classical music with WNYC-AM blab flab, earning the management and trustees eternal shame alongside Rudy, who wrote WNYC out of the municipal budget on the premise that other cities don't own radio stations, so why should NYC? I moved to NYC because it was better than other U.S. cities--before Rudy, and before WNYC had a board of trustees who think it proper to pay the station manager an annual salary that approached a third of a million dollars in 2000, a year when she and two other executives each were paid considerably more than top officers of NPR, PRI, and New York City's primary PBS station. And this year?
I still haven't wired the sound system and VCR I bought two weeks after the attack to compensate for the M.I.A. KCR and (then) tv stations. The sound system is mute testimony to the state I was in: a Sony design monstrosity that would be at home only in a middle school boy's bedroom. When I'm in J&R I still look longingly at the tiny but powerful Cambridge system I was on my way downtown to buy the morning of 11 September.
21 March 2003: Ever since wintel discovered multimedia I've been ranting that my PCs aren't entertainment machines. KCR's plight (whatever was supposed to boost the signal never happened) and recently six weeks in another town listening to the station on a PC no more powerful than my own forced me to blame my pigheadedness for all the music I've missed since the attack. (Well, in fairness, some terrorist pigs were to blame for the need, and one phone line plus dialup makes anything beyond a quick, anxious listen difficult. What a delicious luxury, a wifi card and an unexpected hotspot close to home.) If WKCR as streaming (real)audio doesn't disappoint (as I write this the Friday early music show is celebrating Bach's 318th birthday while WNYC blab blab leaks from my bathroom),KCR's misleading (new?) Web site does. I responded at once to the exhortation to write to my congressman and senators pleading with them to throw their weight around to speed up FCC approval of a new transmitter. Before you too make a fool of yourself, do what I did only later: Poke around the FCC site and you'll find that what's holding up approval is a challenge by another college radio station--nothing that legislative intervention can influence. I felt really, really suckered. (Related discoveries: PublicRadioFan [who needs the eviscerated WNYC?], kazaalite, and winamp. Wow. Thank you, Francis.) No, I still haven't plugged in the VCR or that silly Sony sound system, and J&R refused to sell me the (broken, as it turned out) Cambridge system I craved, but I did buy some nice amplified Cambridge PC speakers. R.I.P., Henry Kloss.



Reglazed J&R door, 2 June 2002


2 June 2002: The Winter Garden, from Dey Street and Broadway; the snapshot is a link to a photo page on the atrium's reconstruction.

Across the pit, 17 July 2002

Fortnight three: 9 to 22 October

14 April 2002: To illustrate a piece on jaywalking, the NYTimes today ran a photo of Church and Vesey, predating the attack by months if not years, across the entire top of a page of the City section. The cutline doesn't ID the location: facing northward from the middle of Church Street across from 5WTC, just below Fulton. An AP shot, probably filed as "jaywalkers, winter" and no Sunday Times editor had a clue. Among readers who do, I'm surely not the only one who finds the effect startling, and a little gut-wrenching. The way we were. Clearly, a lot of other people understood that intersection's rhythms too. To the left, the ashtray concrete planters are distinct on the page; in the tiny jpeg online, if you can make out the phone booth, well, they're to its left. The light-colored building that bleeds left is the Federal Building, across Church you can see the hairdresser's name (Jean Louis David, not "Louis D."), and at right the deli's [photo] red and white neon sign. Now the planters and phone booth are long gone; one construction shack after another blocks the view from the street of that section of the WTC site. The Federal Building and hairdresser still are closed, the deli has been renovated and reopened: A new sign in the window discreetly advertises the view of the WTC site from the upstairs dining room; the door to the stairway spells out the conditions. No mention anywhere of $4.99 spaghetti. The view would take in the public viewing platform next to the southwest corner of St. Paul's graveyard--the wrought iron fence at right in the Times photo. In only that corner, a little tent shelters each headstone. Pedestrian traffic has been restored on Vesey Street sidewalks east of Church and the entire east side of Church Street itself, which is open below Vesey only to construction, etc vehicles. You can bet no civilians jaywalk that part of Church Street now--or go there looking for laughs, but below Cortlandt I did hear a tourist offer a rookie cop $10 to walk across the street and get him a souvenir brick from the site. When the dude persisted, the cop told him he was lucky not to be busted for bribery. After the tourist moved on, the cop and his partner began debating whether the offer actually constituted attempted bribery. I left to fulfill my civic duty to drench myself in so much expensive demo perfume at Century 21 it should set off the shoplifter alarms. ... Now that they have those well-deserved Pulitzers on their resumes, Times editors--and everybody who'll influence its future--should take some time to walk around and get to know this part of town. If the Times architectural critic, e.g., wants to sound authoritative, he should learn the difference between Church Street and Trinity Place.
snaps shot April/May 2002

[photo] 22 July 2002: The firehouse on Sixth Avenue just below Houston Street. The cri  de coeur in the window, handwritten last fall, has since been printed.

Fortnight four: 23 October to 5 November

Note, 15 May 2002: Rudy is but a memory and gone with him has been NYPD antagonism toward anyone taking a camera near ground zero. (The first time I walked across the newly reopened City Hall Park after he cleaned out his desk, I found myself quite spontaneously whistling "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead"; by the time I reached Park Row I was ready to turn cartwheels in the street.) In fact, one of the nicest things that's happened to me in a long time involved prepping the Church and Vesey street clarification. After the Times ran that file photo I wanted a shot from the spot where the AP photog had stood--the middle of Church at Fulton. The sidewalk on the WTC side of course is closed, nothing is in Church Street except vehicular traffic. I waited at that intersection for a lull, then approached a cop, explained the situation, and asked him to take the camera himself and shoot or to walk me into the street. I'd picked out the right guy. He listened attentively and said it would have to be fast. As soon as I'd shot once, I quickly started back toward the sidewalk and he said, "You'd better take one for insurance. You won't get another chance like this." Bless his heart. In fact, the unexpected kindness flustered me so much I blew both shots. I'd shot the snap above from near the curb the day before.

28 November 2001: Correction! Happy to note that my assumption about the Church Street Weber's death was exaggerated. Those lots must have been for insurance, not auction, purposes. Dunno when the store reopened, but the doors were wide open today.

30 May 2002: Correction!! Unhappy to note that my assumption about the Church Street Weber's survival was exaggerated. After those lots were reduced, the doors closed. (A Weber's across Fifth Avenue from the Public Library went through the same process; the manager told me that other Weber's, including one on 45th Street, would continue doing business. An Odd-Job manager told me that, with the help of business relief funds, the Cortlandt Street store was going to reopen; that proved to be untrue. Too bad. Next door, Century 21 has been jammed with shoppers since it reopened.) A home improvement chain has moved into the Weber's Church Street space--boring, but maybe a better fit with its upscale Battery Park City neighbors.
 May 2002
8 July: Given the kind of business it's been doing since its heavily publicized reopening, I shoulda seen this coming: A Century 21 sign has gone up in front of

          17 July 2002
Odd Job Trading's old store next door on Cortlandt Street. If memory serves, Century 21 was in that space for years before it moved to the much larger space it occupies now, then a Woolworth's.

[photo: Computer Book Works]

18 July 2002

Clarification, 30 May 2002: The circumstances of Father Mychal Judge's death turned out to be less mythic than first reported, but he did die while on duty as an FDNY chaplain at the WTC that morning. His friends are trying to discourage people who've started a campaign to get Judge sainted (whatever the process is called).

[photos: nitrogen tanks at several locations]
Across from SoHomeMade Soup: Charlton Street at Varick, 14 May 2002

After asking a lot of people on the street the purpose of the element in New York City streets, I found that the most authoritative--the man hefting the tank, the driver of a truck carrying tanks, a Verizon technician--answered consistently that nitrogen is forced into underground phone lines to expel moisture.
285 West Broadway, corner of Canal, 22 May 2002
Vesey and Church streets, northeast corner, 4 April 2002:
The hairdresser had announced it would reopen here, but in     
June--a few days before I received another mailing that again   
told prospective customers that branch was "Temporarily      
closed due to WTC tragedy. We will be back!"--                                         
[photo: same window with For Rent sign]
the posters in the windows had changed:

Lucky for me, I'd worked out how to give myself that haircut, only better.

18 July 2002: St. Paul's Chapel is not Trinity Church.


30 May 2002: Flatbed bearing last WTC column cut down; snapshot is a link to a page on the ceremony.


18 June 2002: Across the WTC site, between the Millenium [sic] Hotel and One Liberty Plaza, Ralph's Century 21 office building

Fortnight five: 6 to 19 November


Amish farmers who brought produce to Manhattan greenmarkets (as here, direct from Pennsylvania to the Union Square farmers' market, 12 July 2002) rented retail space at at least two successive locations I recall around town. ...

... Without ever shopping there, I'd assumed that the Amish Market near the WTC was another such. After visiting the WTC store now relocated on Battery Place (right, 6 July), I have to believe that my assumption was in error and that in this case the word "Amish" is just branding.


6 July 2002, Pier A at Battery Park: same billboard, different advertiser now

[photo] 23 June 2002: A recovery worker I heard interviewed at the time of the 30 May closedown ceremony brought up how much Point Thank You had meant to the work crews. This is what was left of it a few weeks later. I never did reach a point where I could deal with standing there. The City is big on renaming streets etc. in response to various pressure groups and businesses. Too bad this intersection has no sponsor; never did a spot better deserve official recognition.


Mid-June 2002: Hmmm. I believe the red vest that woman is wearing signifies that she's a Jesus worker--wonder what she could be doing in front of the sexy skivvies store. The New York Stocking Exchange window was replaced and the store reopened shortly after I noted last winter that it still was closed. The window above had been broken too. The building is on the side of Broadway (near Dey) that faces away from the Trade Center.

Mid-April 2002: Where the Here Is New York show storefronts join, a screen in the east window has a live video feed from the Chicago show; in the other window is a printout of the NOAA aerial that's too big to display on one page here.


10 April 2002: Bus shelter billboard, Washington Street, Hoboken. This has to be the most effective ad I've seen for a gym. Or maybe for anything.
11 July: And I bought a copy of the AIA Guide--which I kept resisting at the WTC Borders--at the Strand at the other end of Fulton Street for $10 less than at Borders or any other bookstore I know, on a downtown-tax-free day at that.
Life goes on.

20 July 2002: The lights went out again downtown shortly after noon today, but this time the clouds were meteorological. FDNY put out the three-alarm fire started by a transformer explosion at a Con Ed substation in a couple of hours, and the utility got the juice flowing again at sunset. The accident blacked out at least 63,500 customers from Battery Park City and Barclay Street to 14th Street, Broadway to the Hudson. Radio coverage even on all-news stations--except traffic reports--was nonexistent or nearly so. Subways downtown were knocked out, but kayaking off Pier 26 was unaffected and reconstruction work went on at the Winter Garden (aren't those bleachers an eyesore?). I patrolled the perimeter below Houston and bought a flashlight.

21 March 2003: Dunno if it was just me, but I never was able to find a copy of William Langewiesche's on-site saga of the rescue and recovery operation, "American ground: unbuilding the World Trade Center" (North Point Press/Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2002, ISBN 0-86547-582-2; first published in three parts by The Atlantic Monthly), in NYC bookstores large or small--not, I hope, because NYC uniformed services stridently considered the unsentimental account politically incorrect. Finally laid hands on one in an independent bookstore several hundred miles from home, and I look forward to reading what he observed up close of what I was just glimpsing from afar in the frozen zone.
18 May 2003: How could anyone feel sanguine about the prospects for security a year and a half later while Texas Republicans feel entitled to enlist the Department of Homeland Purity to scramble planes on their behalf in a political dispute ( "U.S. agency to review its role in hunt for Texas lawmaker") and "Officials who failed to put hijackers on watch list not named"? Just small but now-current reminders of the administration's failure to address life-and-death issues appropriately.
24 July 2003. "[T]he intelligence community failed to fully capitalize on available, and potentially important, information." --"9/11 REPORT" (pdf, at Findlaw): Finally, some semblance of a report (despite every obstacle Bush II's administration could devise to put in its way and censorship of information pertaining to the homeland of most of the 19 murderers) on a congressional investigation of the intelligence failures that permitted 11 September. Let's hear it for Senators Bob Graham and Richard Shelby and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees for slogging ahead anyway.


Five fortnights on the perimeter:
11 to 24 September | 25 September to 8 October | 9 to 22 October | 23 October to 5 November | 6 to 19 November ||
... and after || 30 May: Job done? || Winter Garden photo update ||
What next? || Village park renews tradition honoring fallen firefighters || recommended reading :
Eyewitnesses, in their own words; heroes; Afghanistan then and now;
Israel and the Palestinians; intelligence gathering; on watching
what we say; some other politics; periodicals; and archives.

copyright © 2002-2005 Diane Fisher.

adpFisher nyc 24 july 2003