We had to go there. It didn’t seem right to be in New York and not visit the site of an event which has shaped the modern city, and much of the world, since it happened. And so this week my Wednesday Wander is to Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Centre attacks in New York.
I don’t think there are many of us who were alive at the time who don’t remember where they were on September 11, 2001, when those first terrible images of planes crashing into the World Trade Centre appeared on the television. It was an unprecedented moment, and one where the world changed forever. It was also an event where over 3000 people lost their lives, so it seemed appropriate that we go and pay our respects.
The gorgeous girl knew what had happened that day, though her exposure to images of the event has been very limited. So, after our trip to the Statue of Liberty, and a stop to see the Mighty Girl facing down the Charging Bull on Wall Street, we made our way to the memorial, on the site of the twin towers.
It is an extraordinary place to visit, and you can’t help but imagine how it must have been that day, the horrors that took place there. Yet, for all that, it is a place of overwhelming sorrow and peace, rather than anger and pain.
The footprint of both towers has been retained, marked by spectacular water features, the endlessly falling water marking the outlines of where the towers stood. Around the edges are the names of every single person who died there. We took a moment to read a few, to remember them as people who were just at work, or taking a routine flight cross-country, when disaster struck.
The gorgeous girl and I sat together for a little while, watching people walk around in the pale sunshine. ‘This is a sad place,’ she said, and I hugged her and agreed. It felt as though it was time to go. But, on our way out, we stopped to take a closer look at an extraordinary structure in one corner of the square.
This is the Oculus, the most expensive train station in the world, built to replace the World Trade Centre station which was destroyed in the attack. It is a building that has apparently divided New Yorkers, with some loving it and others hating it. To me, it felt triumphant, like some sort of fantastic bird rising from the ashes of sorrow. Inside it was spectacular, like a bright vision of the future. Quite appropriate, in such a place.
Thank you for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!
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Another great wander, if a bit solemn.
Thanks, Craig. I was debating whether to share it, but in the end decided it was worth doing so. It was part of our trip and a conscious decision to go there – in future years the pain of the place will be blurred, I suppose, and it will be like visiting an ancient battlefield or dungeon. It was strange to be there, though – the sorrow is palpable.
I’m glad you did. There are more emotions than happy, and ecstatic. This is an important place.
Thanks, Craig. I agree.
Thank you for sharing this Helen, such a thoughtful post, beautifully written.
Thank you, Sam 🙂 As I said to Craig, I wasn’t sure whether to share it or not, but it seemed too important a place not to. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I remember being called to come and watch this news event unfold on the TV. It looked like some sort of bad movie when the planes flew into the towers. When we went to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, we saw a piece of the world towers. A horrible image.
It was awful, wasn’t it? The horror of it still resonates. I remember waking up and hearing the news, then turning on the tv and seeing those impossible images. I’m glad I went to pay my respects
It felt like a dream, Helen.
I get what you mean when you say ‘This is a sad place’, Helen. I felt exactly the same when we visited the site about eight years ago. At that stage, there was still building being done at the time. I remember reading the names of some of the people who lost their lives. I rather like the Oculus building. It looks very futuristic.