Monday night, I went for a long walk after a movie (gotta love free-movie-ticket deals), and ended up going from Union Square to my school, Pace University, and from there, to World Trade Center.
It was some years since I’ve been in that area last.
What I saw on Monday was, at last, a work in progress.
Ever since I started Pace, way way back in ’03, I was keenly aware that the R train would bypass a wrecked Cortlandt Street station, and there was no amount of black safety mesh that could disguise the gaping hole on the other side of it. And, as the rebuild of the station began, taking the R train became a reminder that was hard to ignore. Every year that I do a post on 9/11, I can’t help but think back to the first time I took the R since then, and how the train would amble through the station, which stood frozen in 2001.
The station since then had partially reopened; no longer standing at the crossroads of the past and present, but now, the rest of World Trade Center has been catching up.
It took years – literal years – of wrangling from the city and clashes with the MTA, but finally, the memorial design has been settled upon, and last of what I heard, which was some time ago, the construction was halted before it began by budget constraints.
Whether the constraints have been resolved or not, and my guess is not fully, the construction had still taken off, and the first few floors for what will be the Freedom Tower have finally sprung up. The memorial, which includes the reflective nested pools that will be set up at the original tower footprints, had already started to take shape. And, for all intents and purposes, I am very glad that World Trade Center is no longer Ground Zero in New York City, and it’s soon on its way to be called World Trade Center yet again.
It’s very much like a wound beginning to heal. The new skin and tissue knits over slowly, and it’ll nearly always leave a scar, but it will no longer be open. It’s difficult to see that when the wound is still there, and it won’t be the same – but it always feels better when healed.
And so the wound in New York’s skyline, psyche, and day-to-day life too begins its repairing process. It won’t be the same, to be sure, but it’s a start.