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.>
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
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
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. --g"
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.
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
24 July: Still hoping for 4 August.>
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.
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
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.
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
Across the pit, 17 July 2002
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
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.
shot April/May 2002
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.
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
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.
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).
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!"--
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
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
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")
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
24 July 2003. "[T]he intelligence
community failed to fully capitalize
on available, and potentially important,
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.