Where The Lights Begin

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I live a few blocks from Ground Zero, or as I’d like to think it will be known someday, One World Plaza. Last year, seeing the twin blue beacons, those elegant, quiet expressions of loss amd remembrance, I decided to follow them to their source.

Lights over Downtown Hospital, the only hospital in lower Manhattan. Ten years ago, they lost electricity, steam, gas, computer services, phones, and most of their water pressure. They still treated over 1200 patients that day, 350 in the first two hours.

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Looking down Church Street,to Liberty Street, the southern perimeter of Ground Zero, where Russell Simmons’ windows still could see over the construction of the Visitor’s Center. Now it rises way above his Liberty Street penthouse, but even though his windows are blocked, he’s still there.

sept 11 and thereabouts

He decorated his windows with multi-faith symbols in response to the anti-Muslim hatred directed at Park 51, then known as the Cordoba Project, or, as Anders Breivik’s heroine Pam Geller calls it, “The Ground Zero Victory Mega-Mosque.” As a neighborhood resident, I’m looking forward to going for a swim in the GZ Victory M.M. At least I know one leathery bikini’d reptile I won’t sidestroke into there.

sept 11 and thereabouts

Down Church Street, and into a traffic DMZ where pedestrians really don’t belong, though a few other trekkers were also trying to find the source of the “Tribute In Light.”

sept 11 and thereabouts

A footbridge over the West Side Highway led to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel parking garage, the hum of generators (since 2008, the 88 refrigerator-size Xenon searchlights run on biodiesel), and two blazing blue, four-mile high, columns, in which all the schmutz that comprises New York atmosphere was dancing madly.

sept 11 and thereabouts

The Municipal Art Society of New York is responsible for the Tribute In Light, and has a page with much more information about it here.  Its funding for the tribute is in question every year, but I hope it continues.

This is the one memorial to September 11 that I seek out. That day, I’d hoped the country would put aside nonsense and noise in recognition that we could not afford them, in hindsight a sadly, laughably naive idea. I hope in another ten years time, it won’t seem so.

Posted by Mrs. Polly on 09/11/11 at 08:23 PM • Permalink

Categories: ImagesNew York CityPoliticsElection '08The Late Slight HopeWar In Error

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Wonderful stuff, Mrs. Polly. Thank you for the legwork. And I’ve always liked Russell Simmons—despite the questionable taste in women.

Thank you for sharing this, Mrs. Polly.

Thank you - beautiful thoughts and shots. The first looks like a benign UFO landing, like in “Close Encounters.”

Thanks for this, Mrs. Polly.  It’s good to find something that just exists to comfort people.

Thank you, Mrs. Polly.  This post soothes my soul.

I’d love to see this display, as I’m betting the light is quite magical. Some things photographs, no matter how wonderful, cannot adequately communicate and light like this is one. I know, I’ve tried.

Thanks for posting these—I’m a New Yorker one day per year.

@trollhattan: this year’s display was kind of bust. Low-hanging cloud turned the lights into an undifferentiated, frosted Sylvania bulb glow. I hope that doesn’t figure in whether the display goes on next year.

Lovely post.  There is more civilized grace and admirable patriotism in this one post than in fifty rantings of the Pam Geller variety.

I remember seeing the lights in 2001 when I visited a friend and her family in Manhattan for Thanksgiving; dinner over, I was on the bus back to Providence and I saw them reaching into the night sky. It was haunting and eloquent, one of the most beautiful things I’d seen.

Thanks for this Mrs P. We had a really good view of the Towers from my mom’s house in Westchester County. I remember as a child watching them climb higher and higher as they were being built - my godfather was a senior electrician on the building project and used to tell us tales of working in the unfinished towers as they swayed in strong winds. It was so sad to come back in November 2001 to find my night-time view of NYC so altered, and my old street swamped in flags and grief for neighbours lost, bereaved, or still in shock. I hope they have the beautiful lights next year - will try and get someone at my mom’s to take a photo of my old view.

This may be my favorite 9/11+10 blog post. Thanks for shining a light on a great story.

Lovely post, Mrs. Polly; and the same goes for your remembrance, ms yafb.

In time, Polly, the heat will fade, but the light, we hope, will remain.

A beautiful, beautiful post.

Really great post and photos, Mrs. P. Thank you.

Lovely, Mrs. P.  Thank you.

You’re awesome, Mrs. P, great reporting.

Bar none, this is the best reflection on the 2011 9/11 season.

Those twin lights have always seemed the most profound statement of the whole thing.  I find it odd that the memorial they came up with is the opposite in every way.

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