Two days after the Ninth Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack, a friend and I traveled to New York to see how reconstruction of the World Trade Center is coming along.
We began by driving from the Philadelphia suburbs to Hamilton, N.J., from where we got a Jersey Transit train to New York's Penn Station — riding upstairs for a good view. Since we both qualify for Senior fares, this was a very inexpensive journey.
Then a quick subway ride to Lower Manhattan.
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From the subway exit it's only a few steps to the best place to see what's going on, the churchyard of Saint Paul's Chapel. Built in 1766, this is the oldest public building in continuous use in Manhattan. Flanked by a picturesque graveyard, it was modeled after London's Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Inside is the pew from which George Washington worshiped just after becoming our first president, and the wonderful altar attributed to Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the man who basically designed Washington, D.C. Above the pulpit is the symbol of the Prince of Wales, testimony to the fact that this was a royal church back in Colonial days. Inside also are memorials to 9/11 documenting the role that the church played in the recovery, and the support it gave to the rescue workers. The Bell of Hope, outside in the graveyard, is a recent addition, a gift from London, rung every September 11.
Visitors can't get any closer than this. The two buildings on the left are part of the World Financial Center, which survived the attack, as did the buildings to the right. The structure topped by two cranes is the rapidly growing 1 World Trade Center, also called the Freedom Tower, scheduled for completion in 2013. With its mast, it will top out at 1,776 feet, a figure of great historical significance.
Strolling around, we came across other views of the various buildings under construction and of the workers erecting them, although we could not really get close enough for a good view. The photo below is about the best I could do using my tiny pocket-size digital camera. After this we repaired to a nearby Irish pub for lunch and a Guinness Stout. This was certainly most welcome as neither of us had eaten since early morning back in Pennsylvania, and it was now in the middle of the afternoon.
Getting here from Penn Station is quite easy, just a matter of taking the clean, modern Eighth Avenue E Train to the WTC station at the end of the line.
Here's another photo:
Lastly, we walked north a few blocks to 45-51 Park Place, the highly controversial proposed site of a new Muslim-American Community Center. Since this, if built, will contain a prayer room, it is being referred to as a mosque. There is a substantial Muslim population among the bankers, traders, and other businessmen here in the Financial District, and the existing mosque is simply not large enough for their growing numbers.
That's it above. As you can see, there were precious few protesters there and only a small police presence. The guy to the right of the small tree was showing his rather badly executed painting of a Trojan Horse, while to the left of that a hand-drawn sign listed reasons why not all Muslims are terrorists and in fact most are good citizens.
From there it was back to Penn Station and home.
Copyright © 2010 by Earl Steinbicker