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Thread: World Trade Center - Fifth Anniversary

  1. #1

    Default World Trade Center - Fifth Anniversary

    The fifth anniversary is coming up in less than 4 weeks, and I have changed the front page picture from ESB to World Trade Center in May of 2000.

    The World Trade Center page on Wired New York - aside from some pictures - for the most part provides links to relative threads on the forum. I would very much like to present a collective knowledge of the state of the affairs at Ground Zero.

    Most of the neccessary information is contained in the forum threads and just needs to be distilled and put in presentable form. What is needed is the general overview of the reconstruction, and each individual parts - Freedom Tower, Memorial, Transportation Hub, 7 WTC and other buildings.

    It does not have to be a sophisticated essay; straightforward and accurate representation of the current situation is what I am looking for.

  2. #2


    guess there is no way around calling it anything other than the FT when you consider what it will represent for the people of this country. The term World Trade Center was synonomous with the unparralled economic and financial power of this country. The term international or world trade center is pretty commonplace now and has become pervasive. It is used in many cities who have applied the label loosely and liberally to their public edifices. The name Freedom Tower stands for a alot more than just the economic forces it once represented. It now represents the patriotic pride of Americans, the supremacy of our military and industrial complex, and as always our economic prowess. It is second to no sovereign nation on this planet, and hopefully the FT will state that to the world. So the new building will cast a bigger shadow and morph into a greater icon than it ever was. Its roll has been slightlly expanded and so has its name.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Midtown West, NYC


    Quote Originally Posted by Paoloman View Post
    guess there is no way around calling it anything other than the FT when you consider what it will represent for the people of this country. The term World Trade Center was synonomous with the unparralled economic and financial power of this country. The term international or world trade center is pretty commonplace now and has become pervasive. It is used in many cities who have applied the label loosely and liberally to their public edifices. The name Freedom Tower stands for a alot more than just the economic forces it once represented. It now represents the patriotic pride of Americans, the supremacy of our military and industrial complex, and as always our economic prowess.
    I think it's more ironically fitting, in that it's called Freedom Tower, yet currently 'freedom' in the US is being trampled on, reworded and used to pursue "moral" wars to force our views on others (ie spreading democracy to countries that aren't ready to be democracies).

    WTC has become so widely used because it was a symbol of power and everytime another building took on the same now, it was pretty much a reference back to NYC's World Trade Center.

    All in all, I think a building should be designed and named to be just that, a building, possibly the tallest, possibly unique, but over time that name, whatever it may be, will become synonomous with the building -- if it so deserves. FT is just liek forcing it down peoples throats that the building is the WTC replacement, and that it's symbolic of America and 'our' values. Most people in NYC hate it, and would prefer (and many plan on) calling it WTC1 or something aside from Freedom Tower. It's the same thing with "Avenue of the Americas", it just agitates me and makes me want to call it 6th Ave even more. All in all, its Pataki wanting it to be his symbol, not simply a beautiful building with tragic local history, that may or may not be a symbol of power again in the world.

    Done ranting!

  4. #4


    Future generations, forevermore, will ask the same question,
    "Why didn't they rebuild two towers."

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2003
    Phila / Connecticut


    Still seems like yesterday to me.

    Maybe it's just because the site hasn't changed at all for years. :|

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2003
    Richmond VA


    I don't care if they call it 'Steve' so long as it starts rising soon!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Midtown West, NYC


    Quote Originally Posted by TallGuy View Post
    I don't care if they call it 'Steve' so long as it starts rising soon!
    Steve would be a friggin cool name for the tower.

    'Oh, where is your office?'
    'In Steve.'

    I like it (no joke).

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by miminy View Post
    Future generations, forevermore, will ask the same question,
    "Why didn't they rebuild two towers."
    We WILL rebuild two towers, and then some. The "uninformed" community seems to have the notion set in their minds that the Freedom Tower or 1 WTC, whatever you want to call it, is the end of the line. There are 3 more MASSIVE buildings that have yet to be announced. And take my word for it, they are no longer the plain Liebeskind placeholders there to complement the Freedom Tower. They are fully developed skyscrapers designed by the world's most renowned architects, each with their distinctive style and presence. The Freedom Tower is just the first part, an emergency design to serve the role as the 'symbolic' centerpiece to placate the hearts of the impatient public. Just set your calendar for September 7th and prepare to witness the triplet towers and its ostracized sibling.
    Last edited by Vengineer; August 18th, 2006 at 09:07 PM.

  9. #9


    yikes those before and after pictures really brought me down i really hope the new world trade center rises fast

  10. #10


    Below are selections from a New York Magazine feature which showcases 19 different viewpoints.

    New York Magazine
    August 21, 2006

    What If 9/11 Never Happened?

    A counterhistory.

    By John Heilemann

    There are days in New York—surprisingly many of them, all things considered—when it’s almost possible to forget that we are living in an age of terror. And then there are days, like last Thursday with its headlines out of London, when that grim reality rises up and slaps us hard upside the head. When we’re reminded that there really are ideological-cum-religious fanatics intent on slaughtering us in large numbers. When we realize that these zealots aren’t merely crazy but determined and ingenious. When we’re forced to admit that we are, deep down, more scared than we ever let on.

    It is almost five years since that fear was imposed on us and the age of terror began in earnest. From the moment the Twin Towers fell, 9/11 was seen as a watershed, a historical turning point of grand and irreversible proportions. With the acrid smoke still swirling above ground zero, the mantras repeated constantly were that 9/11 had “changed everything”—that “nothing would ever be the same.”

    By now we see those mantras for what they were: natural, perhaps inevitable, exaggerations in the face of gargantuan trauma. So much about how we live our lives today remains the same as it ever was. And yet, at the same time, we all know (or think we know) that vast changes have in fact been spawned by 9/11—political, cultural, and sociological; intellectual, emotional, and psychological—in New York, throughout America, and around the world. The question is precisely what they are.

    As a way of marking the fifth anniversary of 9/11, we’ve attempted to provide an answer—or, rather, many answers. But we’ve done so in a roundabout manner: by asking an assortment of big thinkers and public figures to address the question, What if 9/11 never happened? Now, let’s be clear, we’re well aware that the dangers of counterfactual speculation (If Bobby Kennedy had never been shot, then Nixon would never have been elected! So no Watergate! No Carter! No Reagan! Etc., etc., etc.) are almost as grave as those of unbridled futurism. But we also see the virtues of an approach that appeals both to left-brain analytics and right-brain imagination—and that, in the process, tends to uproot subterranean assumptions and challenge conventional wisdom.

    The most glaring item in the latter category (at least on the left) is the canard that, if not for 9/11, the United States would not be a country at war. But as a number of the voices in the pages that follow argue convincingly, a clash between the West and the forces of jihadism—and, in particular, between America and Al Qaeda—was inevitable. Osama bin Laden’s campaign against the U.S. had been under way for nearly a decade; the only question was when, not whether, it would land upon these shores. As Andrew Sullivan suggests in his alternative-present blog, America should perhaps consider itself lucky that 9/11 took place when it did (thus giving the country an early warning of the battle ahead) and that it wasn’t worse. In a parallel history that avoids easy morals, he draws a path that leads us to an even more dire version of where we are today: in the midst of a long twilight struggle against a lethal enemy.

    Without 9/11, would the London plot have been foiled? Without 9/11, would there have been an Iraq war? Without the Iraq war, would there have been a London plot?

    Yet if a war against Islamofascism was unavoidable, the same can’t be said of the other war in which we’re currently, tragically, ensnared. Although many of the neocons in George W. Bush’s administration had long nurtured fantasies of invading Iraq, 9/11 was the sine qua non for the transformation of those dreams into policy. Without the specter of the gruesome atrocity at the World Trade Center, Bush would likely have been unable to induce either Tony Blair or Colin Powell to support him and his doctrine of preemption—and without the complicity of those two, his designs on Baghdad would almost certainly have been stalled in their tracks.

    As with Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam, history is sure to designate Iraq as the defining feature of Bush’s presidency. But unlike with LBJ—who, if it weren’t for the conflict in Southeast Asia, would be remembered for civil rights and the Great Society—it’s difficult to conceive of what Bush’s legacy would be in the absence of 9/11 and its fallout. Rampant profligacy? Record deficits? Slavish fealty to the rich? Quite possibly, all three. Or perhaps, as historian Douglas Brinkley offers , Bush would have defined his administration by taking up the challenge presented by another disaster, Hurricane Katrina: “Rather than standing on the rubble at ground zero with his bullhorn,” Brinkley says, “Bush would best be known for standing on some waterlogged roof in the Ninth Ward.” Or perhaps he would have gone down to defeat in 2004, a 9/11-free election centering on domestic affairs, in which the Democratic candidate, therefore, wouldn’t have been John Kerry but John Edwards or Dick Gephardt—or Al Gore.

    Erase 9/11 and the local political scene would be similarly transfigured. Rudy Giuliani’s bank account would be much diminished—and his presidential prospects would be nonexistent. Mark Green might be our mayor. (Would we all be smoking in bars again? Would Wall Street have been taxed into oblivion?) Ray Kelly would be on nobody’s short list of future occupants of Gracie Mansion. Joe Lieberman—a miserable, deluded putz who also happens to be a casualty of the newly virulent partisanship ushered in by 9/11—would probably be the Democratic nominee for Senate in Connecticut, as opposed to a poster boy for sour grapes.

    Politics isn’t everything, of course. It’s often said that 9/11 brought to a close the great boom that unfurled in the second half of the nineties. Our memories tell us that, prior to that day, we lived in a kind of economic nirvana, incited by the efflorescence of Silicon Valley and propelled by the soaring stock market. But in truth, the boom (or, if you like, the bubble) was already over by the time the planes hit the towers. The Dow peaked in January 2000, and the NASDAQ began its epic crash two months later; by summer 2001, unemployment was rising and the overall economy had stalled. A recession was in the offing, 9/11 or no.

    What wasn’t necessarily in the cards, however, was an end to the broader aura that the bubble economy fueled—the sense that, as the author Bruce Sterling put it at the time, we were living through a “new Belle Epoque.” Underlying that perception was a certain all-purpose optimism about technology, progress, and the future. Sans 9/11, maybe such sentiments would have proved durable. Maybe Google and the Web 2.0 generation would have been seen as the second phase of the high-tech long boom. But after 9/11, no one talks of long booms anymore. Belles Epoques may be capable of surviving recessions, but wars have a way of claiming national optimism among their many casualties.

    What of New York City? Instinctively, we want to say that, had 9/11 never occurred, our home would be dramatically different. But how true is that, really? Certainly the downtown skyline would look as it had since 1972. Certainly we wouldn’t have to cope with occasional bag searches on the subway—or the indignity of de-shoeing at LaGuardia (and now, de-liquefying). And certainly some 3,000 of our neighbors would still blessedly be alive.

    Yet, as a number of our contributors contend, the seminal trends that have shaped the city these past five years would have played out in any case. “The drop in crime, the rising income inequality, the continual changeover from a city of renters to a city of co-op owners—these have little to do with 9/11,” notes NYU sociologist Dalton Conley . Still others observe that many of the horrors predicted at the time never came to pass. The real-estate market didn’t collapse; instead, it soared. Applications to NYU didn’t plummet; instead, they went through the roof. The city didn’t become an American Belfast in the eyes of potential tourists; it became, improbably, more glamorous and seductive.

    All of which is to say that New York would, no doubt, be a different place if 9/11 hadn’t happened. But would it be better? I’m not so sure. True, we’d all be a little less fearful—but then fear has its uses. As Bob Kerrey once said to me, “A certain amount of anxiety is good for you—it keeps you on your toes.”

    Bernard-Henri Lévy
    author, American Vertigo

    If 9/11 had not happened? America would be swimming in happiness. Kerry would be president. We would get to airports at the last minute, and the paranoia proportion would be lower. Iran’s voice would be less important. Daniel Pearl would still be alive. Francis Fukuyama would have beaten Samuel Huntington, who would be seen almost everywhere for the crypto-fascist that he is. History would be over. The week would have seven Sundays. Writers would be writing novels; philosophers, philosophy. Wall Street would be touching the sky. Gas would be $20 a barrel. Castro would still be the devil. Oliver Stone would have made a movie about a still-reigning Saddam Hussein. The superrich would be cooler, and more concerned with poverty in poor countries. I would have written my second volume on “forgotten wars.” I wouldn’t have had to shorten my vacation in Saint Paul de Vence to do a story about Israel at war. Palestinians would have a state. Moderate Muslims would control the Islamic extremists. America would be less religious (God help us!), France less anti-American (“these Yankee bastards are fighting back too hard, endangering world peace”). But it’s all a contradiction in terms. Because 9/11 did happen.

    Dahlia Lithwick
    Supreme Court correspondent, Slate

    Had 9/11 never occurred, we’d still be debating the boundaries of executive power, but we’d have to do it without one of the most important sentences penned in our legal lifetimes. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s “a state of war isn’t a blank check for the president,” may not have been written, but we’d likely be fighting over vast expansions of police power. Many of the Patriot Act’s most sweeping provisions had been on John Ashcroft’s Christmas wish list for domestic crime fighting long before 9/11. And unsurprisingly, Patriot Act provisions have been used to prosecute a Las Vegas vice lord and interrogate a college death-penalty opponent in cases having nothing to do with terrorism. September 11 was a useful excuse. Systematic erosions of the warrant requirement, liberal use of presidential signing statements, sweeping notions of what constitutes a “state secret,” and efforts to sideline the courts would all merely have been directed at criminals. This was a constitutional shift waiting to happen. Without a war on terror, the administration’s legal focus would have stayed on the culture wars. Efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade and roll back affirmative action and the separation of church and state would have been serious. Bush’s choices for the Supreme Court could have been different. A President Bush who believes that terrorism must be fought by the president without oversight or check had to select Supreme Court nominees guaranteed to sanction that. If that need didn’t exist, Chief Justice Roy Moore could have by now torn down the Supreme Court cafeteria to house the 7,000-pound rotating crystal monument he’d built to the Ten Commandments.

    Leon Wieseltier
    literary editor, The New Republic

    America would have enjoyed the luxury of some more time in the post–Cold War, inward-looking, money-mad bliss. History had ended, remember? But the bliss would have, in any event, been short-lived. Because if 9/11 had not happened, then 9/12 would have happened, or 9/13 or 9/14. The turbulence in the Islamic world; the fear of modernity and its great representative, the United States; the hatred of Israel—these were all waiting to explode. (So was the North Korean nuclear gambit and the Iranian nuclear gambit: The world was, even then, a much more perilous place than many Americans, and many American policymakers, had wanted to know.) I imagine that it must have been excruciating to be the president of the United States on 9/11, and I understand his subsequent virulence toward the enemies of the United States, but Bush became another victim, the most distinguished and powerful victim, of the instability of thought that 9/11 unleashed in this country. Since 9/11, the discussion of urgent national questions has been dangerously volatile: In Washington, there is almost no point in beginning a political conversation anymore, since you immediately discover that you are speaking either to a Shark or a Jet. The sad truth, however, is that it doesn’t matter anymore what America would have been like if 9/11 had never happened. It was one of the cataclysmic days in our history, one of the great American experiences of the irreversibility of history. And the sadder truth is that most Americans live as if 9/11 did not happen—basically, we’re all still shopping as before. And even the president wants us to stay the same. Once again, this blessed country is weirdly detached from its own historical situation.

    Reverend Al Sharpton

    Certainly we would not have had the Iraq war. That would have changed the lives of the soldiers who died. I don’t think Mark Green would have won the primary on 9/11. Freddy Ferrer would have won the Democratic nomination and be the mayor. Race relations would be better under Ferrer. The attack and the fear it generated led to people returning in mass to faith, depending more on religion for guidance and protection, which gave a tremendous revival to those who in my judgment misuse their religious fervor. People were searching for answers and absolutes, which gives zealots an opportunity to promise something that wasn’t there. Sometimes people can only find comfort by grabbing at something that promises stability. When you’re drowning in an ocean, you grab for a raft like it’s a concrete building.

    Ron Suskind
    author, The One Percent Doctrine

    Would we be as vigilant if there hadn’t been a 9/11, vigilant enough to have found and foiled the London plot? Probably not. There’s a fair to good chance that there would be ten planes blowing up over the continental U.S. As for Iraq, the Bush administration’s intention from the very start was not whether to overthrow Saddam, but how. Certainly the administration was focused on setting new rules of the geopolitical game as the world’s sole superpower. The view was that Saddam Hussein could be made an example of, that he was an easy mark, and that that would shape global behavior and send a signal to anyone with the temerity to challenge us. We might be in Iraq even without 9/11. Meanwhile, the growth and violent intentions of Islamic fundamentalism would have reared their heads sometime in this period, whether last week or earlier. In the eyes of the violent jihadist community, maybe 9/11 is akin to the U.S. hockey team winning the ’80 Olympics: “Oh, my goodness! I can’t believe how many breaks we got to have a moment like this!” Or, maybe, it’s like the early days of Microsoft—a few people with a powerful, disruptive idea. Bin Laden is as much an ideology as an individual at this point. And Al Qaeda can be patient, deliberative. Their surviving, along with their ideology, is a kind of victory. It grows on its own, with the exercise of U.S. power often acting like sunlight and water.


    Dan Doctoroff
    deputy mayor of economic development and rebuilding

    Many of the big projects that are under way today would not be where they are had it not been for 9/11. The transformation of lower Manhattan, the expansion the West Side, the extension of the 7 line, the Atlantic Yards, the list goes on and on. Much of it would not have been doable but for 9/11. People had this very romantic notion about lower Manhattan before 9/11, but the reality was it was in long-term decline; from 1970 to 2001, the number of jobs there declined by 64,000. We never would have had the resources or the will to invest the way we’re investing in lower Manhattan. Back in 2001, if you had walked one block in any direction from the World Trade Center, it was blighted. That is changing right now, as we speak.

    Doris Kearns Goodwin
    author, Team of Rivals

    Without 9/11, Congress would not have authorized the use of force in Iraq, even with the illusory argument that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. Without a foreign-policy crisis to focus his presidency, domestic issues would have taken priority, and if that were so, President Bush would most likely have lost his bid for reelection. Polls have consistently shown that the domestic priorities of the Bush administration are not shared by the majority of Americans. Without the war in Iraq, it is less likely that John Kerry would have won the nomination since there would not have been a premium on previous war experience and foreign-policy expertise. In that scenario, the most likely Democratic candidate would have been Al Gore. Without 9/11, the memories of the election fiasco in 2000 would have been much stronger, the sense that Gore deserved a second chance much more intense. Had Gore become president, and had he embarked immediately on a Manhattan Project for alternative energy, our country might now be on the road to independence from Middle Eastern oil.

    Robert Ivy
    editor-in-chief, Architectural Record

    I don’t think the ordinary citizen would have cared so much for the city as a physical place. It was obvious that the perpetrators looked at these buildings as symbols, so New Yorkers turned to architecture to heal the gaping wound. Ordinary people are now able to comment on the work of Santiago Calatrava, Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Gehry. It changed our perception of what it means to be a city dweller—people aren’t just letting developers dictate the future anymore.

    Fareed Zakaria
    editor, Newsweek International

    The week before 9/11, the biggest news story in America—getting wall-to-wall coverage—was Chandra Levy. (Remember her?) So we can easily imagine what a world without 9/11 would look like. Peace, prosperity, and trivia. George Bush would probably not have been reelected (his poll numbers were sinking by September 2001, even among conservatives). But even if he were in office, it would be a different presidency, focused on his domestic interests, such as faith-based initiatives and education reform. Congress would be wasting the people’s money (some things never change). Issues like gay marriage and Terri Schiavo would dominate the public spotlight. The best-selling book would not be on Iraq but about getting rich by investing in waterfront real estate (the sure sign of a market peak). But, to prick this fantasy, Afghanistan would still be run by the Taliban, and Al Qaeda would be happily ensconced there. Wahhabi clerics would still be fomenting hatred of the West. Saudi millionaires would still be funding madrassas and militants. And there would still be jihadis plotting a terrorist attack on the United States. History would have been delayed, not denied.

    Hank Sheinkopf
    political consultant

    Mark Green would have been the mayor. Rudy Giuliani would have been run out of town on a rail. Of course, 3,000 people would still be alive. And Larry Silverstein wouldn’t be in the news every day. The most amazing thing of all is that people stayed. We didn’t really grasp the significance of this place, that it was more than just a financial combine. New York became a human place for people. We didn’t realize who we were before: We are the center of the world. And I don’t think we ever really understood what that meant before that day.

    By Tony Harris and Brian K. Vaughan
    co-creators of Ex Machina, a graphic-novel series about an ex-superhero New York City mayor

    September 11, 2006: Sitting at his usual table at Windows on the World, former mayor Rudolph Giuliani dines alone, unnoticed.

    Copyright © 2006, New York Magazine Holdings LLC.
    Last edited by BigMac; August 21st, 2006 at 04:14 PM.

  11. #11


    New York Magazine
    August 21, 2006

    The Long Funeral

    How 9/11 gave way to grief culture.

    By John Homans

    Anyone who lived or worked in downtown Manhattan on 9/11 has no need to see the new Oliver Stone movie, powerful as it’s said to be. An anniversary isn’t necessary to remember that day. It comes back easily, in infinite detail. We remember, moment by moment, where we were, where our friends were, what we saw and heard and said as we came to awareness about what was happening: That gaping reddish hole in the North Tower (“How do you fix that thing?” was a first question) and the glitter in the air (it was paper—all those file cabinets—people later figured out) around the tower and the plumes of smoke, blowing toward Brooklyn past the Woolworth Building. Live turtles, for sale in a box on Canal Street as the towers burned. A shirtless kid on a bicycle, yelling, “It’s anarchy.” Near the towers, the scene was infinitely darker. “Don’t look, Daddy, they’re jumping,” as one 9-year-old told his father near P.S. 234. The row upon row of ambulances, waiting. And the billowing dust everywhere. The hours afterward were surreal, as people negotiated their fears, or tried to continue their ordinary lives (the man taking his daily jog—a little smoky today). The city seemed completely reinvented; everywhere you looked was something new. The event’s vividness and epic scale gave it its power. It’s alive in the mind, engulfing in its imagery. People knew instantly it was going to be memorable; at Washington Square Park, just past nine, a vendor had brought out a tray of disposable cameras.

    And then there were the dead, their faces on posters, when everyone knew they would never be found. How many were they? Six thousand, some were saying, although, officially, no one was saying anything. You couldn’t watch the towers fall without crying—all those families losing parents. If you walked by a firehouse the next morning, you saw burly, exhausted men weeping and hugging, their brothers dead. People felt they knew the dead, and mourned them as if they did, though, of course, mostly they didn’t. Downtown New York at that point was a utopia of grief (the frivolity and intense materialism of the late nineties suddenly banished) with novel and elaborate homegrown rituals of mourning: candlelit firehouses overflowing with flowers, makeshift shrines on chain fences.

    In the city in the early weeks, a debate raged between those who resisted the emotional power of the event and those who gave in to it. People who’d seen World War II and Europeans, even rather hawkish and sympathetic ones, tended to wonder, after a while, whether it was time to get back to regular life again. One hated them at the time—their stiff upper lips were a luxury, and a vanity—but now, that argument is more interesting.

    New Yorkers tended to want to keep 9/11 (“it happened to us”) for their own, but no one believed that could happen. The grief culture this country has lived in for the past five years began in those spontaneous shrines, but it didn’t end there. Before the week was out, many different interests had moved in to stake their claims on its meaning.

    As an event, 9/11 was a perfect entry point into the softness and indulgence and inwardness that mass media are most comfortable exploiting. In this, it was clearly part of what came before, the high-rated bathos of the deaths of Princess Di and JFK Jr. (or more recently, for that matter, the cat stuck in the wall of a West Village bakery), the media’s hunger for strong emotion coupled with its ability to make huge numbers of people think the same thing at the same time. The journalistic necessity of putting faces on the story minted a huge new class of celebrities, dead and alive. Jokes, of course, could be told about Princess Di and JFK Jr. But the grief culture that had just been born imposed its own form of correctness. The circles of loss and victimhood created a new etiquette—who could speak first, what could be said.

    The media’s appetite for stories of overnight transformation was glutted in the weeks after 9/11. The event gave birth to myriad complicated figures like Howard Lutnick, the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, who had been the prototypical hard-driving, acquisitive, assholic businessman. Blasted by the loss of 658 employees and colleagues, including his brother Gary, Lutnick was changed instantly into a raging, crying man on a mission—and then, almost as suddenly, changed back into a businessman. George Bush was transformed into a war president. Rudy Giuliani, a fading mayor who’d just undergone an ugly divorce, was suddenly an American hero. Bernard Kerik, who went from mayoral crony and NYPD commissioner to Homeland Security nominee, has fallen furthest of all, having plead guilty to two misdemeanors, after which his name was taken off the jail downtown.

    When the remarkable images of the event were combined with a sense of mourning and high-art ego and professionalism, the result was often grandiosity, as in the coffee-table book of photos Here Is New York, which came out in September of the following year. Downtowners had seen many of these pictures already, in magazines and in a gallery on Prince Street in the months after the event. In Here Is New York, the treatment is somber, the photos are moving, but entombed like this, there’s an unmistakable overripeness. And at this point, of course, the somewhat unseemly scramble over which superstar architect would be best to commemorate the event—and gild his reputation—with a gleaming series of towers was under way, ultimately to be won by motor-mouthed, elfin Daniel Libeskind’s Freedom Tower, only to be followed by his prolonged deposing by more powerful corporate forces. The beams and dust of the towers (they were, after all, very big buildings) endowed random-seeming reliquaries from coast to coast. Giving on an unprecedented scale, as much as $10 billion earmarked for individuals and families, resulted in enormous payouts and a burgeoning bureaucracy wielding complex formulas—whose fairness immediately came under fierce attack. And then there was a series of questions that would have baffled Thomas Aquinas: Should every inch of ground zero become consecrated ground? Should the “bathtub” be preserved? And who got to decide, anyway? Even in New York, it became, after a couple of years, a bloated, preposterous funeral, requiring a headstone so grand that no one could possibly complete it.

    Bush and his administration quickly swooped down to scoop up the largest part of the 9/11 legacy. The justified fear and rage and woundedness and sense of victimhood infantilized our political culture. The daddy state was born, with attendant sky-high approval ratings. And for many, the scale of the provocation seemed to demand similarly spectacular responses—a specious tactical argument, based as it was on the emotional power of 9/11, rather than any rearrangement of strategic realities.

    Of course, the marriage of the ultimate baby-down-a-well media spectacle with good old American foreign-policy adventurism was brokered by Karl Rove, who decreed that George Bush would become a war president, indefinitely.

    The final military takeover of Manhattan was the Republican convention in August of 2004, with nary an unscripted moment. In the convention’s terms, New York was less a place than a stage set for a sort of 9/11 puppet show.

    The memory of 9/11 continues to stoke a weepy sense of American victimhood, and victimhood, as used by both left and right, is a powerful political force. As the dog whisperer can tell you, strength and woundedness together are a dangerous combination. Now, 9/11 has allowed American victim politics to be writ larger than ever, across the globe. When someone from Tulsa, for example, says, “It’s important to remember 9/11 every day,” what he means is, “We were attacked, we are the aggrieved victims, we are justified.” But if we were victims then, we are less so now. This distorted sense of American weakness is weirdly mirrored in the woundedness and shame that motivate our adversaries. In our current tragicomedy of Daddy-knows-best, it’s a national neurosis, a perpetual childhood. (With its 9/11 truth-conspiracy theories, the far left has its own infantile daddy complex, except in that version, the daddies are the source of all evil.) No doubt, there are real enemies, Islamist and otherwise, more than ever (although the cure—the Iraq war—has inarguably made the disease worse). But the spectacular scope of 9/11, its psychic power, continues to distort America’s relationships. It will take years for the country to again understand its place in the world.

    Like the trajectory of Howard Lutnick, all of this feels depressingly circular (and now with the plot in Britain, it feels as if it’s coming around again). Closure (that ridiculous term) has been elusive. For New Yorkers, it’s a bond, a secret society, a thought world entered if not exactly happily, then without fear. But 9/11 hardly belongs to us now. The country, perhaps inevitably, has made a mess of our grieving, and the grief culture is still with us. And, no matter how much one has opposed the president in much of what he’s done, it’s difficult not to feel complicit, having lived through the event (even more so if one is in the media), in what’s happened since. At the time, it was shared; now and forever, it will be fought over. Which is why, at ground zero five years later, tourists gawk at a construction sight. Its emptiness still holds us. 9/11 is embalmed, not here and not gone either.

    Copyright © 2006, New York Magazine Holdings LLC.

  12. #12

    Default Five years ago: my WTC 9/11 photos

    For the fifth anniversary I changed my website with bigger and more pictures of my eyewitness account of 9/11.

    September 11, 2001 / 8.48AM. Just after the first airliner crashed into the North Tower, office papers and dust coming down.

  13. #13

    Default incredible pictures

    You are very lucky you were not standing on Liberty Street when the second plane hit.

  14. #14


    Still hard to look at those photos and not feel that day all over again.

  15. #15


    Very good photos.

    As I was browsing through them and remembering the same images from nearly the same vantage points (I was in different parts of the WFC complex that entire morning) I noticed how at no point during that morning the thought of their collapse went through my mind.

    The impact of the planes never really got to me that much, they always looked like big but manageable fires. Their collapse is what I think I can never learn to live with.

    I sometimes feel comfort at the fact that new generations won't remember that day but at the same time I feel saddened at the thought of them not witnessing the greatness of the Trade Center.

    The shot from Washinton St is a rare photo, I haven't seen much from that side of the towers.

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