A February 2004 trip
to New York by ssullivan
Quote: Before 2004, I'd seen most of the US but somehow had missed New York City. When a coworker’s cat got sick, I finally got my chance. Despite frigid temperatures, sore feet, and a bad cold, my short 48-hour first visit to this remarkable place was one I'll never forget.
Somehow, despite visiting nearly all of the major cities in the US and 41 states before my 30th birthday, I had never made it to New York. I’d been close; I’d set foot in the Newark airport several times and seen the great Manhattan skyline just a few miles away. Most of my friends had been to New York, but somehow I’d never managed to travel with any of them on those trips. So imagine my excitement in late January 2004, when my boss asked me if I’d be willing to cover for a coworker (who had a sick cat) and go to Ridgefield, CT, for a week, and that I’d have a weekend off to do what I wanted, and my expenses would be paid by our client. She went on to explain that she and her husband (the company’s VP) would be in New York, and if I wanted, she could call our client and have them add another room to the hotel reservation there for the weekend. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity! It’s not every day that you get told you can go to New York for the weekend and your hotel, food, and transportation costs will all be reimbursed. So started my first journey to the Big Apple.
All day Friday, I anxiously awaited the arrival of 5:00. I had already researched getting to the city from Connecticut on the Metro-North Railroad. Finally, the time arrived for me to make my trip down to South Norwalk to catch the train. An hour or so after boarding, we pulled into Grand Central Station. The feeling of walking into the terminal, then up the ramps into the main lobby, was absolutely incredible. I then proceeded out into the chilly air for the short walk down Manhattan’s crowded streets to my hotel.
The rest of the short weekend was spent walking Manhattan and experiencing places like Central Park, Broadway, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, the Brooklyn Bridge, and a somber trip to the World Trade Center site. Despite frigid temperatures (the high on Sunday was about 18°F!) and extremely sore feet, I was determined to see everything I could in the 48 hours I had in the city. Unfortunately, one weekend was not enough. It will take many more trips for me to feel like I’ve seen it all.
If traveling to New York in the winter, be prepared for some very cold weather. My first day in New York was cool but pleasant, with temperatures around 40°F. However, a cold front pushed the high temperatures below 20°F; this, combined with a gusty wind, made walking a very bone-chilling experience. However, with my heavy coat, gloves, scarf, sweater, and ear mufflers, I was never extremely uncomfortable.
Bring a couple of pairs of comfortable shoes and be prepared for a lot of walking. New York is a very walkable city, and the street life in Manhattan is worth some sore feet to get out and experience.
Try to allow several days to really see the city. If you are short on time, as I was, it helps to read some good guide books and journal entries in advance and plan an itinerary for your visit. Keep in mind that some attractions, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, may take a full day or more to see. I opted for my first trip to do a lot of walking and leave museums, shopping, and similar attractions for future visits.
As everyone says, don’t rent a car to do New York. You’ll end up paying a fortune in parking expenses, and it will take you longer to get the car out of the hotel’s garage, drive to your destination, and find a parking place than it will to take a cab (they are everywhere you look), walk, or use public transportation.
As my other journals have indicated, I’m a fan of taking public transportation when visiting major cities. The system in New York is fast, safe, and so comprehensive it can usually get you within just a few blocks of your destination. The days of the New York subways being crime-ridden and scary are gone; not once did I feel threatened or unsafe, even when riding after midnight. You can purchase a day pass, good for unlimited rides on subways and buses until 3am the next morning, for . While more expensive than day passes in other US cities, it’s still a bargain. If you are staying more than three days, a seven-day pass is available for . For more information on schedules and route maps, see the MTA website.
Hotel | "InterContinental The Barclay New York"
The legendary Barclay Hotel is located just off Park Ave. on 48th St., across the street from the famous Waldorf Astoria. This grand hotel has offered some of the city’s premiere accommodations for over 75 years and has hosted heads of state (President Reagan, François Mitterand, and Nelson Mandela), celebrities (Bette Davis, Marlon Brando, and Ernest Hemingway), visiting NFL teams, and Miss America winners. A major renovation in 2001 updated the hotel’s public areas and guest rooms, preserving the majestic grandeur of decades past, but also giving guests a full slate of modern conveniences.
To be honest, I normally would not have stayed here. Such a hotel would normally be way out of my budget. However, my reservation was booked and paid for by a client company, whose headquarters were just a couple of blocks away. Originally they had wanted to put us up at the even grander Waldorf Astoria across the street, but given that it was Valentine’s Day weekend, the Waldorf was fully booked. Imagine my surprise when the client called to give me the reservation information and actually apologized for putting me up at the Barclay instead of the Waldorf! I politely told them that it would not be a problem and not to worry about it. I doubt that I missed very much by staying in a four-and-a-half star hotel, as opposed to a five-star one.
As the Barclay is an older hotel, most of the rooms are fairly small. Despite being slightly cramped, there was still enough room for a king-size bed, desk, armchair, and entertainment armoire. Guest rooms feature elegant furnishings of dark wood, custom window treatments, down-filled duvets, and pillow-top mattresses. Large work desks in each room were custom-designed to fit the unique floor plans of some of the guest rooms, ensuring that each room has a large work space. The wall-mounted lamps on either side of the bed, which are controlled by dimmer switches, are a nice touch. Amenities like high-speed Internet access and digital in-room movies are available. The bathroom, while very small, was one of the most attractive hotel bathrooms I’ve ever seen, with marble floors, custom faucets, and a large tub with a curved shower curtain rod. Features like a scale, bathrobe, makeup mirror, and handheld hair dryer were included, as well as a line of spa-quality amenities, including lotions, shower gel, and mouthwash.
If you’re looking for luxury and price isn’t an issue, the InterContinental Barclay is a good choice. The hotel’s services and guest rooms are quite good, and the location, near Grand Central, Park Avenue, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center, is unbeatable. However, unless I get a big increase in pay, I doubt I’ll be staying here when I’m actually paying for the trip myself!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 4, 2004
InterContinental The Barclay
111 East 48th St.
New York, New York 10017
Very few places in New York have witnessed the history that St. Paul’s Chapel has. The Episcopal Church is known for its survival of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which was across the street from the church, as well as its outreach to the people involved in the recovery. However, the church’s history goes back to a time well before 9-11; a time when the American Revolution was still a decade away.
St. Paul’s Chapel was completed in 1766, and at the time of its construction, was considered to be "on the edge of town," as the city of New York mainly lay to the south of the church’s location. It’s hard to believe today that this church was once almost out in the country! Unlike Boston and Philadelphia, where colonial structures abound, St. Paul’s is one of the few remaining buildings in Manhattan from that period. Today it stands not only as the city’s sole remaining colonial church, but as the city’s oldest public building in continuous use.
During the years that New York served as the nation’s capital, President George Washington regularly attended services here, including a service on Inauguration Day in 1789. Other noted individuals who have worshiped at St. Paul’s include the first governor of the New York, several members of the British royalty, and several former US presidents. And, in 1831, the funeral for President James Monroe was held here.
Had the attacks of September 11, 2001 never occurred, St. Paul’s would still occupy a very historic place in this great city. However, it is the events of that day, and what transpired afterward, that gave this 238-year-old church a significant position in modern history. Despite being across the street from the World Trade Center, St. Paul’s survived the collapse of the massive towers without a single broken window. A large sycamore tree in the churchyard cushioned the force of the collapsing towers, saving the structure. The trunk of the shredded tree has since been preserved as evidence of the destruction of that day.
By September 15 the church began its ministry to the rescue workers. Without electricity, the first meals were cooked on portable grills. By October 1, the church had organized a formal ministry to aid the relief workers, setting up a schedule to provide chaplain, counseling, and meal services to the workers. The chapel became an oasis of rest, mediation, and renewal for the aid workers, and services were provided 24 hours a day for 8 months.
Since 2001, St. Paul’s has continued operation as part of the parish of Trinity Church. It also serves as a memorial to those who died across the street on September 11, 2001 and the relief workers who served for 8 months following the attacks to assist in the recovery efforts.
For more information on St. Paul’s Chapel, visit their website, and my freeform entry, "Reflections on an Emotional Journey to Ground Zero."
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 6, 2004
St. Paul's Chapel
New York, New York 10006
+1 212 602 0747
Attraction | "World Trade Center Site/Ground Zero"
Once the site of the world’s tallest buildings, the World Trade Center site become hallowed ground, when, on September 11, 2001, terrorists crashed Boeing 767s into the site’s twin towers. Nearly 2,800 people died at this site on that day, making it the location of the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil.
When planning my weekend in New York, I had already decided that I must visit this site. I had always dreamed of visiting the World Trade Center and going to the observation deck on top of one of the towers. After 9-11, obviously that dream would never be fulfilled. But now I felt a much deeper call to this place. Instead of coming here for the thrill of standing on top of a 1,300 foot tall building and seeing for miles, I was coming to make peace with the anger I felt over the attacks, and the naivety that was shattered when the first plane hit on that frightful morning. One of my friends, who had visited the World Trade Center site a few months earlier, had recommended that I go. I remember him saying that it wouldn’t be a fun part of the trip, but it would be one of the most emotionally moving experiences I’d ever have. How right he was.
My visit to the area around Ground Zero began with a visit to St. Paul’s Chapel, the church across the street from the World Trade Center that survived the attacks. After leaving St. Paul’s, I walked across the street. I was immediately struck by the somber mood of everyone around and the absolutely quietness of the site. For the first time since I arrived in New York, there was quiet. People avoided talking, and when they did, they spoke quietly. The constant noise of traffic and honking horns was miles away. There was a sense of reverence that’s rare in our world.
The twisted, burned wreckage of the towers is long gone. What remained when I visited was a large open pit, nearly 16 acres in size. Some construction was underway, related to the ongoing restoration of subway lines around the site. A makeshift memorial, a cross made of two of the steel beams that once supported the towers, stood near the fence surrounding the site. On the fence, placards listed the names of the victims, as well as photos of the site before and after the attacks and a timeline of what transpired on September 11, 2001. The area was surrounded by the evidence of the attacks-sidewalks where streetlights and sign posts had been ripped from the concrete, buildings missing windows and sections of façade, and ongoing reconstruction work could be seen in almost every direction.
A visit to Ground Zero is a gut-wrenching experience. However, it’s one that I believe visitors to New York should make. For me it was a way of making peace with the memories of that period of our history and a reminder of how fragile life is.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 7, 2004
World Trade Center Site
Vesey Street, West Side Highway, Liberty And Church Streets
Attraction | "Naked Boys Singing"
My second night in New York was Saturday, February 14-Valentine’s Day. Once again, I was spending Valentine’s Day alone and single, but unlike other years, this time I was in New York. After a long day of walking through Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Central Park, I was tired but not so tired that I didn’t want to go out that evening. After returning to my hotel for a short rest, I decided to look online for a show. Being Valentine’s Day, almost everything I wanted to see was either sold out or out of my price range. Then I saw a listing for Naked Boys Singing!, a show I had missed during its run in Houston in 2001 and 2002. What better choice could there be for a single gay man traveling alone in New York on Valentine’s Day than a show full of attractive men with little or no clothing who could sing? I quickly purchased a ticket online for the 10pm show and got ready to go out.
This off-Broadway musical’s title describes the show quite well-a cast of men, mostly naked, throughout the entire show (and when clothes are involved in a scene, they come off very quickly), singing and dancing in a variety of fun musical numbers. The humorous opening song, "Gratuitous Nudity," sets the theme for the night, with the full cast coming out on stage and revealing it all within the first 30 seconds of the show. While at first the nudity is the attraction, it doesn’t take long for the audience to realize that these guys aren’t just pretty things to look at, but that they have real talent. They really can sing and dance quite well! In fact, if the entire show was performed fully clothed, it would still be very enjoyable. The nudity just adds to the fun.
After the opening song, 15 more songs are presented over the next 90 minutes, ranging from the campy, gut-busting hilarious ("The Bliss of a Bris," concerning circumcision, and "The Naked Maid") to the more serious ("Kris Look What You’ve Missed" and "Window to Window"). While the show was created by gay men and some of the subject matter of the songs is gay-themed, the show is by no means open only to the gay community. In fact, on the night I was there, at least half of the audience was straight men and women. While some inside jokes and the deeper meanings of some of the more serious musical numbers may be lost on non-gay audience members, the show is very enjoyable for all, regardless of sexual orientation.
Obviously, because of the nudity and subject matter, this is not a show for children. But for adults, gay and straight alike, it’s a fun, high-camp show that’s full of laughs and some very good performances. Sure, Naked Boys Singing! will probably never win a Tony Award, but it’s a well-done production that nobody leaves unsatisfied.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 8, 2004
47th Street Theatre
304 West 47th Street
New York, New York
My last stop in New York, before heading back to the hotel for my luggage and then Grand Central for the train back to Connecticut, was the Brooklyn Bridge. For some reason I’ve always been fascinated by large bridges, especially suspension bridges, to the point that one of my "when I grow up I want to be" dream jobs as a little kid was an engineer who designed such structures (the other dream was an airline pilot . . . somehow I ended up as a psychology major working in financial planning, website and database design, and HR consulting). So naturally I had to make a stop at the Brooklyn Bridge while I was in New York. Of course, by this point on Sunday afternoon, I had walked at least 15 miles in the last 30 hours and was coming down with a nasty cold, which was only being made worse by the frigid outdoor temperatures. Still, sore feet and swollen throat or not, I was determined to walk onto the bridge and see it firsthand.
The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883, after 16 long years of construction and the deaths of 20 construction crew members. In the late 19th century, the bridge was a remarkable achievement. It was the world’s largest suspension bridge and the first to be constructed of steel. The bridge was designed to carry people utilizing a variety of transportation modes; in the center of the span, cable cars (and later electrified trolleys) ran. Outer lanes were reserved at first for horse-drawn carriages (later automobiles), and in the center, an elevated walkway allowed pedestrians to transit the bridge. Today, the pedestrian walkway still exists. Trolley tracks have long been removed to allow six lanes for auto traffic, three in each direction. Interestingly, the bridge is less efficient today than it was in its early years; when streetcars made the crossing every few minutes, far more people were able to transit the bridge each day than today. On the Sunday afternoon I visited the bridge, traffic congestion was so bad that the walkers and cyclists on the pedestrian walkway were moving far faster than the cars below. I’d hate to see the bridge in rush hour!
Walking up the bridge’s wood plank pedestrian walkway is the best way to visit the Brooklyn Bridge. This walkway allows you to get up close to the cables that the span is suspended from, as well as the towers. The walkway offers grand views of the Manhattan skyline, and several benches are placed along the way for walkers who desire a short rest or want to stop and take in the scene.
Because of time constraints, I chose to only walk about half of the distance across the bridge to Brooklyn. A walk all the way across will probably take about 15 to 20 minutes at an average pace; runners or brisk walkers can probably make it in half that time.
Access At Tillary Street And Boerum Place
Attraction | "Washington Square Park"
Located in Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is one of the neighborhood's small parks, and the front yard for many area residents. The park is well-known for its famous arch, located on the north end of the park where Fifth Ave. dead-ends at Waverly Place. The site of the park has a long history as public cemetery, dueling ground, and site for public hangings. Apparently, the elm tree used for hangings is still there, in the northeast corner of the park. Today, Washington Square is a scenic green space, with a fenced dog park where the neighborhood’s canine residents are free to play, benches, picnic tables, fountains, and the arch.
Even on a cold day in February, the park was full of people. I stopped here for about half an hour to give my feet a rest and observe the people in the park. During my time there, numerous flower delivery people passed through the park, delivering flowers and balloons from the local florists to neighborhood houses (it was Valentine’s Day), a group of older men played chess on several tables, and groups of friends gathered to visit. The atmosphere was charged with the sounds of people enjoying their Saturday afternoon. I could not help but feel the spirit of community that existed here. One could almost forget that he was in one of the largest cities in the world in this place, as it had a certain quaintness to it, not unlike a small town. I had once been told by a former Manhattan resident that, despite the city’s immense size, neighborhoods were closely knit, small communities. Nowhere else did I experience that feeling more than my walking tour of Greenwich Village, and especially while sitting here in Washington Square.
In addition to the wonderful atmosphere of the park, the surrounding neighborhood is worth a visit. On the north side of the park, a row of fine red brick Greek revival houses with marble accents flanks Waverly Place. These houses are absolutely stunning in their perfect uniformity and architectural detail. Surrounding the rest of the park are other elegant homes, buildings that make up part of the NYU campus, and the architecturally interesting Judson Memorial Church and Tower. Many of these houses and buildings have been home to a number of well-known artists, poets, and writers throughout the years.
As with other New York neighborhoods, the only way to really experience Greenwich Village is on foot. Washington Square Park would rank high on my "not-to-be-missed" list for this area of the city, as it is a beautiful, vibrant place. It’s the perfect spot to take a break from walking to sit and watch the people around and take in the urban atmosphere of this incredible neighborhood.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 9, 2004
Washington Square Park and Arch
West 4th Street (at Macdougal Street)
New York, New York 10003
Attraction | "A Walking Tour of Greenwich Village"
Greenwich Village was my first destination in New York. I set out for the Village first thing on Saturday morning, after arriving in the city the evening before. After getting off the subway at the Christopher St./Sheridan Square station, I ascended into what would soon become my favorite part of New York (or at least my favorite of the parts I’ve seen so far). The Village is a vibrant area of old row houses, shaded narrow residential streets, hidden alleys and carriage houses, classic architecture, funky antiques shops, and great restaurants and coffee houses. It’s also a hub for the city’s large gay and lesbian community. I recommended visiting the Village both during the day and at night; you’ll see dramatically different scenes in doing so. Daytime is best for viewing the unique houses and visiting the shops; nighttime visitors can take in the jazz clubs, bars, and restaurants. But no matter when you visit, in my opinion, you can’t visit New York without spending some time in Greenwich Village.
My walking tour started with Sheridan Square and Christopher St., a location famous for its pivotal place in the gay rights movement. Here is the location of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar where, in late June, 1969, bar patrons fought back against the police busting the bar simply because it was a gathering place for gay men (legend has it the bar’s customers were already quite made over the death of Judy Garland the night before). Across the street from the bar, a series of sculptures in a pocket park commemorate the GLBT community’s influence on the neighborhood.
A few blocks east of Sheridan Square is Gay St. (it is not named after the sexual orientation of some of the neighborhood residents). This short, curved street features some charming Federal houses. Along this street, I saw a film crew with a group of actors filming either a movie or television show; I did not recognize anyone in the group as being someone famous, and I’m unsure as to what they were filming, but maybe one of these days I’ll see a scene in a movie or on TV and realize I was there when it was filmed. These houses, along with Grove Court, a cluster of 19th-century townhomes on Grove St. (just west of Sheridan Square), were some of my favorites in the Village. They are so simple in their design, yet very elegant. Grove Court also features a nice courtyard between the houses and street.
Walking east to Greenwich and 6th Avenues, you will enter an area of art galleries and antiques, book, and gift shops, and the beautiful Jefferson Market Courthouse building, which now serves as a public library. I spent at least an hour browsing the unique stores in the area around this busy intersection.
To complete my walking tour of the Village, I continued to Washington Square Park, which I’ve included as a separate journal entry.
Houston To 14th Street
New York, New York 10014
Before leaving New York, I had decided to make a point of visiting the former site of the World Trade Center, now called Ground Zero after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 in New York. The previous afternoon, while walking around the city with my cousin Marla, I had mentioned that I was planning to go to Ground Zero on Sunday afternoon. She mentioned that, despite living in New York for over a year, she still had not managed to visit the site yet; she had mixed feelings about visiting it and wasn’t sure she could go down there. Still, I was determined to see the site.
This would actually be my second experience of seeing the site of the World Trade Center. In early November 2001, I was in Princeton, New Jersey on business. I remember seeing the smoke from the site when I arrived at the airport in Newark for that trip, just short of two months after the attacks. However, on my flight home from Newark, I was seated in the first row of first class on the right side of the plane, with four windows to myself. As we took off, heading north and then turning east, the sun was just beginning to set, and the high-intensity lights illuminating Ground Zero for the 24-hour-a-day clean-up were already illuminated. Through my bay of windows on the plane, I got an incredible panoramic view looking down, almost directly, into the site, and could clearly see the still-smoldering wreckage of what had once been two of the tallest office buildings ever built. It was quite a sobering experience, but nothing compared to what I experienced two years later when I actually set foot on the site.
So, on Sunday afternoon, I set out from the 42nd Street subway station on the train heading to the southern tip of Manhattan. After exiting the subway, I proceed south down the street toward the site. As I walked, I remembered where I was when I first heard of the attacks on that Tuesday morning nearly 2.5 years before; I remembered driving to work and being frustrated with the traffic because it was making me late for a meeting with a client. I could hear, in my mind, the radio DJ describing what was happening in New York as I sat at the corner of Richmond Aveue and Rodgerdale Street in west Houston, waiting for the light to change.
A block or two into my walk, I noticed the east side of St. Paul’s Chapel and realized I was growing closer. My heart raced as I walked over to the church and intensely studied the large timeline of the September 11 terrorist attack and St. Paul’s response to it, which is displayed outside the church’s east entrance. After viewing the timeline, I stepped inside to the 18th-century building’s sanctuary. Along the outer walls of the sanctuary, tables and display cases have been set up to exhibit the parish’s response to the tragedy across the street. One of the first displays I looked at included dozens, if not hundreds, of programs from funerals and memorial services of World Trade Center victims. I was immediately struck by the dates of birth and photos on some of these programs; many of these victims were about my age. I was suddenly hit with the thought, "This could have been me." Had history taken a slightly different course, I could have just as easily been one of the thousands who reported to work that morning in those buildings, people who had no idea their lives would be taken from them before lunchtime. In 2001 I was traveling almost non-stop for work, spending over 120 nights away from home and logging nearly 50,000 flight miles. It could have been me on one of those planes. Instantly, my eyes started to tear up; fortunately, tissue boxes were located on just about every table and pew in the sanctuary. I spent the next half hour reviewing the rest of the displays and exhibits in the sanctuary. The response of this church to the needs across the street were a reminder to me of what religion and Christianity are all about – care for others in their time of need. The parallels between St. Paul’s Chapel and my own congregation back home in Houston, Bering Memorial United Methodist, were obvious to me. In the 1980s and early 1990s, when AIDS was running rampant throughout Houston and nobody seemed to care, Bering, located in the heart of the city’s gay and lesbian community, stepped up and created counseling, day care, dental care, and hospice care for those affected by that plague. Similarly, with death, destruction, and desperation all around, St. Paul’s Chapel quickly found its place in ministry in the days after 9-11 by providing a place of rest and renewal for those involved in the rescue and clean-up efforts. For eight months, the church was open 24 hours a day. Workers came to this small church for meals, counseling, massages, prayer, meditation, sleep, and emotional support during their time of greatest need.
I then exited St. Paul’s Chapel through its west entrance into the churchyard, where many colonial residents of Manhattan are buried. I could see down the slight incline of the churchyard to the site of the World Trade Center. News reports in the days after 9-11 described St. Paul’s, but I had never really understood how close this little church was to the World Trade Center. It’s literally right across the street. When you see the visible scars still on buildings all around the site, it is absolutely a miracle that St. Paul’s is still standing. It almost seems that it would be nothing short of divine intervention that it’s not only still standing, but that it came through the destruction that surrounded it with only very minor damage. A large Sycamore tree in the churchyard took the force of the towers collapsing and shielded the church building. The stump of this tree was on display in the churchyard; imbedded in it were chunks of concrete, metal, and other debris from the World Trade Center towers. In its place, the Tree of Hope, a Norway spruce, was planted in 2003 to commemorate the site and replace the sycamore that was destroyed on 9-11.
I then walked across the street to the site of the World Trade Center. Now surrounded by a tall steel fence, the site bears little resemblance to the pictures I’d seen in books and magazines of what the area looked like when the twin towers stood here. Sign boards attached to the fence listed the names of all of the victims of that awful day. All around buildings, sidewalks, and streets bore the still-visible scars of the collapse of the towers. I was struck by the quietness of the place; an hour or so before I had been in Times Square. In stark contrast, the crowds here were small. People whispered instead of yelling. Cars didn’t honk their horns. The sounds of traffic, people, and city noise were eerily absent. Some wept while a few people knelt and prayed; nearby, a New York resident described his experience of running from the site as the first tower collapsed to some out of town friends. The feeling of being in this place, on that ground, was something I had felt only once before, when I visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial in early 2001; a place that until 9-1,1 was the site of the worst terrorist incident on US soil in our history. Part of me was angry that this had happened, and that there was so much hatred and intolerance in the world, and yet part of me could not help but feel a spiritual presence in this place. Later, after I had returned home, I was describing my visit to a friend who had visited Ground Zero about 3 months before me. We agreed that no matter what you believed, it was impossible to visit the site and not feel the presence of a higher power and the souls of those who were taken before their time on that day.
I completed my visit to the site by walking across the skywalk to Battery Park City and visiting the Winter Garden, the glass atrium across the street that was heavily damaged by the collapsing towers. As I left the area, I couldn’t help but feel glad I had visited the site. During the previous hour, I had cried. My stomach had cramped. I had felt the experience of being in that place in every part of my body. Yet, as I walked away, I did so with the feeling that there was hope and that life does go on-and I renewed my pledge that I would always stand up against the sort of hate and intolerance that led people to do things like what happened on 9-11.
District of Columbia County, District of Columbia