Wednesday, September 11, 2002

In 2000, I was staying with a friend in New York. My friend lived in a residential tower belonging to Columbia University at the Hudson River end of 179th street. I wanted to visit a friend in Connecticut, so I rented a car and drove up to see my friend. I got back to Manhattan at about two o'clock in the morning, and could find nowhere to park anywhere near where my friend lived. Eventually, I gave up and drove over the George Washington Bridge to Fort Lee, NJ, parked in the car park of a strip mall, and then had to get back to Manhattan. There were no taxis to be seen, and there did not appear to be any buses back over the bridge. Therefore, I ended up walking across the George Washington Bridge at three o'clock in the morning. Interestingly, most private lighting in Manhattan had been turned off at that time, and most of the lightling visible was street lighting. This was not white, but yellow. The famous skyline was visible, but New York was therefore a yellowy-red colour rather than the white it would have been earlier in the evening. As always, the skyline was magnificent, with two clumps of buildings, at midtown dominated by the Empire State Building, and downtown dominated by the World Trade Center. Not everyone loved the WTC from an architectural point of view (I rather liked it), but it did something magnificent to the skyline. At three in the morning (as indeed at other times) the skyline was breathtaking. I haven't visited New York in the last year, but when I do, I will not be able to look at the (still magnificent) skyline without thinking about what is missing. In 50 years time, I will not be able to look at the skyline without thinking about what is missing.

This, I think is the fundamental reason why something immense and magnificent has to be built in place of the WTC. To hopefully slightly lessen the feelings of emptiness that I, and many others, will feel when looking at the skyline.

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