Ground Zero, In Passing

I finally pass by an area I’d been avoiding.

We passed by Ground Zero in New York City the other day while going to the movies. I’d been avoiding lower Manhattan — something that’s pretty easy to do when you live 2,400 miles away and visit New York infrequently — since the World Trade Center’s twin towers disappeared from the skyline.

Ground ZeroBut Sunday I was there.

It’s amazing how much you can see of the area with the buildings gone. I could see Trinity Church and the old Woolworth Building (the tallest building in the world for 13 years, topped by the Chrysler Building and later the Empire State Building in 1934). We were on the west side of Ground Zero; evidently, the tourist stuff is on the east side. From our view, it just looked like a big construction site. Very big — four city blocks. Of course, I didn’t get a picture of it from the theater’s windows; the shot here is from the car.

I feel kind of weird about the way Ground Zero is being treated as a tourist attraction. I hope most people are very respectful to the site in remembrance of the thousands who died there. I don’t think that people who don’t know New York can understand the significance of the attack and buildings’ collapse. Lower Manhattan is occupied by literally hundreds of thousands of people on a typical workday morning. Those buildings were each 1/4 mile tall. If they had fallen any way but straight down, the body count and damage to New York would have been far, far worse. Any New Yorker can tell you how lucky the city is that the buildings came almost straight down. And any New Yorker who was in lower Manhattan that day can tell you, without exaggeration, how lucky they are to be alive.

What do you think?