Yahoo News invited New Yorkers who have lived and worked in Lower Manhattan to briefly reflect on how their neighborhood has changed since the 9/11 attacks. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | The 9/11 terrorist attacks changed New York City irrevocably. Like almost every New Yorker, I visited Ground Zero a number of times in the years following the tragedy. What started as a pile of rubble was quickly turned into a cluttered construction site and, now, 12 years later, the One World Trade Center Freedom Tower stands 104 stories above Lower Manhattan. Seeing this process of rebirth come full circle has been truly inspiring.
When talking to New Yorkers the first year or two after 9/11, you were liable to get a full spectrum of reactions. Some were simply mournful, some were fearful of another attack, while others, in true New York spirit, just played it tough and angry, calling for vengeance. Regardless of how they reacted, what every New Yorker had in common after 9/11 was a deep sense of loss. The city skyline had been permanently altered in the most violent of ways. New York City had been robbed of its two largest skyscrapers, along with close to 3,000 of its innocent brothers and sisters.
Working in Battery Park over the years, I would encounter a number of tourists who were exploring Lower Manhattan for the first time. I like to think you could pick the ones who had just visited Ground Zero out of the crowd: seeing the ruins of the twin towers inevitably left people with an air of remorse and detachment. But nothing compared to meeting a New Yorker who had experienced the Twin Towers before the attacks. For them, the terrorist attacks were much more real, more personal. Years ago when visiting the Ground Zero site, I met a man who had once stood on the observation deck of the 110-story high South Tower. Staring down at the bare girders and construction equipment in silence, his feelings of astonishment and loss were almost palpable.
But now the new One World Trade Center building towers over Downtown Manhattan. Having seen it rise above the skyline floor by floor over the last decade, most New Yorkers have already grown accustomed to its grand presence. For many, the terrorist attacks seem like a distant memory, almost unreal: It's hard to imagine that the Twin Towers and WTC 7 building were reduced to smoldering rubble a mere 12 years ago.
Visiting Ground Zero today feels almost like a history lesson. But for many New Yorkers, that terrible day will forever be a very real and vivid nightmare.
- Act Of Terror
- New York City