SEPTEMBER 10th, 2001…

World Trade Center Statue 2.jpg

…Eighteen years ago: An absolute END-OF-THE-WORLD thunderstorm on the night of the 10th with Hudson Street's gutters flooding from the non-stop downpour! I was trapped at the Caffe Sha Sha there at Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, and it was amazing. The towers of the World Trade Center dimly shining through the driving rain, their tops disappearing into the low rolling clouds! Flashes of lightening, deafening cracks of thunder, and a deluge...

No wonder the city sparkled the next morning. Literally sparkled. Every leaf on every tree was emerald green! Every window, every surface, every street….even the SKY was scrubbed immaculately clean, a clear cloudless turquoise... all set... for what was about to start...

Back in the early 70s, I had watched as these buildings went up on the Hudson River. They were built during a terrible time financially for the city. ...a terrible time financially, and reputationally! New York City was still reeling from the decades of "urban blight", West Side Story, Kitty Genovese, and the "I don't want to get involved" mentality. The suburbs were full of "nice people" who had given up on cities, (all cities!), and were becoming part of Nixon's so-called "silent majority".

And so, even as NYC was crumbling, and political assassinations, Viet Nam, and Watergate had corroded the national morale, we New Yorkers displayed our usual chutzpah by daring to build the "world's tallest building"!.... Not once, but TWICE! Imagine, the President of the US basically tells the city to drop dead as it nears bankruptcy, and we build the two tallest buildings in the world...right next to each other!! When New Yorkers get it right, they get it right!!.... You know when someone "gives you the finger"? Well, this was as if all of NYC had given the world TWO fingers! "Ya think we're down? Well, take THAT!"...

While so many others despaired about "how ugly they were", "how boxy", "unimaginative", "so plain", "grim", "cold", I rejoiced every time I saw them! In every season, every kind of weather, any hour of the day...or night. They were gorgeous to me!!... from the highway, flying into the city, during a snowstorm, in the fog, looking up at them, across to them from New Jersey or Brooklyn, or from the top looking down. My one regret?... that I didn't take the hundred photos that I could have over the years when the sun or the moon, the rainbow, the whatever was "just right"... Those towers never bored me. I never took them for granted. I watched as they climbed to the sky, and came alive with tenants and life.... and I watched as they died... right from my street corner in Greenwich Village... on Greenwich Street, the street that literally lead right to the plaza at their feet. They will always mean so very many things to me, but one thing most of all…that New Yorkers, my fellow New Yorkers, with all their neuroses and faults, their hubris and narcissism, dared to be broke…and built two, count 'em TWO of the world's tallest buildings right there on the Hudson River…at the edge of the ocean, for the entire World to see… and stand... stunned.

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