Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan


The great, Brooklyn Bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States and an enduring icon of American innovation. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), it was the first steel-wire suspension bridge and the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903 – 50% longer than any previously built—and it has become a treasured landmark. Contemporaries marveled at what technology was capable of and the bridge became a symbol of the optimism of the time. John Perry Barlow wrote in the late 20th century of the “literal and genuinely religious leap of faith” embodied in the Brooklyn Bridge

With all this in mind i knew it would be well worth my while to see it up close an personal – so i did!

it was great to marvel at the Bridges composition close up

let alone the wonderful views

having chosen the middle of the day to cross the bridge (not so wisely) it was a relief to reach the City Park and it’s cooling shade

I’d certaintly walked up an appetite and took a break for lunch in a cool little cafe in Tribeca. The area is named for being the “TRIangle BEneath CAnal St”

I then had a sombre walk past Ground Zero. The World Trade Center complex stood on the 16 acre site until it was destroyed in the September 11 attacks. 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners, intentionally crashing two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both buildings collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane. There were no survivors from any of the flights. The death toll of the attacks was 2,995, including the 19 hijackers. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries.The United States responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terrorism.

After an extremely deliberated process, plans have come out for rebuilding of site with new World Trade Centre Towers, a memorial and a museum. Details of the plans are on this site.

Plans for the new World Trade Center Towers

I was able to best let the impact of the day that cast a shadow over America, sink in, whilst sitting in the grounds of St Pauls Chapel which is situate directly opposite the Ground Zero site.

Opened in 1766, St. Paul’s Chapel is Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use – a place where George Washington worshiped and 9/11 recovery workers received round-the-clock care. The hall of the Church holds a permanent display of both the messages of hope and encouragement that came from all of the country, and the world. It became a sanctuary for thousands of volunteers, policemen, firemen and others who frequently made stops at the church, some after searching for bodies in what became known as “the pile” to pray as well as to seek comfort and strength. The church served as a shelter for nine months for rescuers who not only prayed and grieved but ate and slept there as well. In the weeks following the attack, well-wishers created a make- shift memorial along the iron gates that surrounded St. Paul’s by leaving thousands of pictures, notes, cards, patches from different fire departments worldwide and flowers dedicated to those who lost their lives. Others posted pictures on the gates of loved ones lost in the tragedy, hoping that by some miracle someone might see one of the faces. Many of those personal items were saved and today are still on display inside the chapel.

My body was covered with goosebumps throughout the whole experience but i was most moved and saddened upont seeing a table full of photo cards and ‘missing signs’ that were displayed in the aftermath of the event as families and friends desperately searched for loved ones.

In May, the church opened a new public exhibit remembering 9/11 called, “Unwavering Spirit: Hope and Healing at Ground Zero.” I was left both saddened by the event but also with a sense of comfort at how well the greater community rallied together to provide support for both the exhausted volunteers and grieving families.

I then walked down Broadway to the renowned Wall St, the historical center of the Financial District.

Looking down to the New York stock exchange one way and up to Trinity Church the other, the Street itself really isn’t as big as you’d expect from it’s grand reputation

Being the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange, (the world’s largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies) is just on of the reasons for it’s notoriety.

Wall Street has become the name of the surrounding geographic neighborhood and also shorthand (or a metonym) for the “influential financial interests” of the American financial industry. Contrasted to “Main Street”, the term “Wall Street” can refer to big business interests against those of small business and the working of middle class. Whereas “Main Street” conjures up images of locally owned businesses and banks, the phrase “Wall Street” is commonly used interchangeably with the phrase “Corporate America”. Wall Street, more than anything, represents financial and economic power. To Americans, Wall Street is the symbol of a country and economic system that many Americans see as having developed through trade, capitalism, and innovation. Currently it’s image is taking one hell of a beating thanks to the World Financial Crisis or “Great Recession” as it is termed here. But it seemed everyone here was just trying to ‘get on with it’ busy rushing to and from important engagements beneath the many proudly displayed American Flags. As well as obviously displaying patriotism and unity (particularly after 9/11) i think the flags also serve as a subtle reminder to those in the Financial district of their integral function in terms of serving the broader economy and not just their immediate interests.

I then wandered past elaborate bright sculptures interspersed between the gigantuon skyscrapers,

as i made my way north. Past city hall and the Court houses

which were surrounded by small shops providing ‘Bail Bonds’

and up up up into China Town!

But just as i was adjusting to the smells, sounds and cheap souvenirs of China Town, i rounded a corner into Little Italy!

Whilst it first and foremost a tourist destination now, much more than it is an ‘authentic Italian experience’ it’s still a fun and vibrant place.

But before i knew it i had again crossed the invisible boundary into another completely different area, Nolita, with it’s funky boutiques, cafes and quirky graffiti that i mentioned in an earlier blog post.


And members of these distinctly different communities all wander throughout the different areas, adding their unique ‘spices’ to New York’s melting pot of culture

In Nolita i picked up a bunch of books at McNalleys (the cafe i also visited a few days earlier). These books ontop of all my other learning of New York and it’s ways through magazines and other books, keep me nice and busy in cafes and on the subway!

During the day i also bought these Eistein prints that i’ll frame and put on my wall for when i get home. Fun but still poignant – you can’t beat a quirky genius for inspiration!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan

  1. margaretbiggs

    A day of changing emotions you had.The famous bridge was wonderful.Your coverage of ground zero very poignant.I had tears welling as I read.A quiet refuge in St Paul’s.Wall st & then a fab. photo of you .Hint!Finally the bookstore.You will need a big room!I love the quote on 2 ways to live your life. Love Margoo xx

  2. sally

    An amazing day. You carried my emotions from highs as I imagined the view off the Brooklyn bridge to feeling teary as i read of you visit to chapel near ground zero. Thankyou for the experience. Love Mum

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