16 September 2004
4:29 pm to 5:29 pm
Ending point: the corner of Rector Place and South End Avenue
Distance from home: 0.5737 miles
Literature received: Amazing Savings Stores (“Rainchecks are not available”), FlashDancers Gentlemen’s Club (“Couples Welcome”), FlashDancers Gentlemen’s Club (again), Falun Dafa Reader (“Seeking Justice Against Genocide”), FlashDancers Gentlemen’s Club (again), Falun Dafa Reader (again), Falun Dafa pamphlet (“Bad things are happening… to good people”)
Coin: Virginia quarter (2000 P)
To see a larger version of the photo above (which I recommend), click here.
I headed north and then back to the World Trade Center. Overheard on cell phone: “I’m across the street from Ground Zero!” There was a sad little farmer’s market installed next to the WTC site: just a few stalls of produce, just a few customers. It seemed badly out of place.
On the east side of the WTC, tourists stood in small packs, looking at the hole in the ground and the signs on the chain-link fence. The neighborhood’s workers, meanwhile, strode purposefully by them, holding bags and umbrellas, heading for the PATH station and other means of getting home.
I started noticing what people were wearing around their necks: neckties, corporate badges, bling-bling.
Overheard, guy talking to girl: “I know you guys wear the same socks.”
I headed back into the financial district. Outside the Federal Reserve Bank, a guy with a French name on his badge was smoking a cigarette without his hands, alone except for a security guard he wasn’t talking to.
Some of the buildings in the financial district needed a good scrubbing. I realized that mud on buildings would always look different to me, after having seen my neighborhood in the days after the destruction of the World Trade Center. Everything was covered in a layer of dirt, and the neighborhood looked like a nineteenth-century daguerreotype.
It occurred to me that with my t-shirt, shorts, and camera over one shoulder, I looked like a tourist myself. I was vacationing in my own grief.
After winding my way through the financial district (various looping patterns, and a trip up and around the Chase Manhattan Plaza), I headed back to the WTC site, and walked along its south side. I veered south, and then headed further west, walking over a pedestrian bridge (lit with recessed blue lights). On the other side, in Battery Park City, it felt like I’d left the city for the suburbs. I wandered in endless loops through a small playground where kids shot hoops on reduced-height rims and played in the sandbox, while mothers and nannies watched indulgently. Girls intently dribbled balls. One mother patiently explained, “We’re going home because you’re too tired.”