New York, What Used To Be, And What Follows
by Brian Plante
I am a New Yorker. I was born in Staten Island, the southernmost borough of New York City. My parents took my brother and me into "The City" (Manhattan) a lot when we were kids -- to the circus, museums, rowboating in Central Park, the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall, opera, ballet and lots of other trips. I went to college at New York University, and after that I was employed in Manhattan for my first couple of "real" jobs. It is a great place to grow up; New York has everything.
These days, I'm living in North Carolina, but I'm still a New Yorker. A couple of times a year, my family and I go back to the city to visit friends and relatives and play tourist. I may live in North Carolina, but I will always be a New Yorker. You got a problem with that?
The World Trade Center towers were not completed until I was a teenager, and my very first recollection of them was an article about their construction that I read in one of those educational magazines they gave out in grade school as the towers were being built. The Trade Center was a familiar fixture of the skyline by the time I started commuting into Manhattan for college. One of my early jobs was in the World Trade Center. Not in one of the two big towers you all know (knew?), but one of the smaller buildings at the base of the towers. My wife worked for a while in one of the towers. I have dined at Windows On The World, visited the observation deck a few times, and shopped and eaten in the plaza underneath the WTC many times.
Just this past July, I took my wife and kids into Manhattan to see the New York Stock Exchange and the World Financial Center. Like always, we got off the R train at the Cortland Street station, underneath the Trade Center. We had lunch in a fast-food pasta place in the Trade Center shopping plaza before walking over to the Stock Exchange. After taking the tour at the Exchange we walked back to the Trade Center and hung out next door at the World Financial Center, before going back to Brooklyn, where we were staying for the week.
That's all changed now. The towers are gone, destroyed yesterday by terrorists. A lot of innocent people are dead.
The next time I visit that site, perhaps later this year, it will still be a mess. Maybe in a year or two there will be a memorial park on the site. It will be very different and strange.
The world will be different, too. Perhaps it has always been strange.
It is too early to say how things will change. For sure, the security at airports and on commercial airliners will change. That's probably the least of it, though. Most probably, the USA will retaliate with a show of force, just as soon as we can find the correct target for our wrath. That could lead to an escalation of terrorism. Maybe a war.
Where will it end? Are nuclear or biological attacks in our future? Will this cause a jihad? It is too early to see where all this is leading, but right now, only a day after the World Trade Center was destroyed, the world is a much scarier place.
I had planned a much different sort of article this month. Something about writing fiction. I'm sorry this article wasn't what you were expecting. Maybe I'll do that next month. Right now the World Trade Center pretty much crowds out thoughts of such trivial stuff as my writing career. I am a New Yorker and I am hurt deeply.
Today, we are all New Yorkers.
Copyright © 2001 Brian Plante Count=5427
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