Ground Zero is hardly the smoldering hole it was after the horrific events of September 11, 2001. Truthfully, aside from a small fenced off memorial to all the workers that lent a hand and a list of the victims on one fence, it looks like any other construction site in Manhattan.
Almost 5 years later the site still swarms with tourists. A plethora of languages can be heard in all directions. Some pointing and trying to orient themselves with the former layout, snapping pictures between the links of the fence and some just standing quietly taking it all in. Though the smoke has cleared and the area is being used in some capacity -there is still a strong somber feeling there...and almost tangible sadness that seems to hang in the air above you. It took me over four years to feel like I could go...
The site is charged with loss, fear, pride and a need to achieve the balance of moving on while still remembering.
All this emotion has been reflected in the "rebuilding plans" which have changed over and over. How do you appease an entire country? Do victims families have a greater say? Should money be a consideration? Do we build higher? Is the focus on replacing the buildings or creating a memorial? All of these questions still seem eons away from being answered --and answered to everyone's approval.
The design was recently revised again much to the dismay of many that feel budget considerations are stripping the plans of all emotional meaning. There are lawsuits brought by the builders against the insurance companies they claim are not paying what is owed. There are claims the mob has been involved with dealings at the site. And the cornerstone of the 'Freedom Tower', that had been ceremoniously placed at the site, was removed and taken away on June 23rd. I guess that officially puts us back to square one at Ground Zero.
As crazy as it sounds, Brad Pitt had the best idea I've heard to date. Rebuild the Towers exactly as they were --except construct the floors that were hit by the planes from glass and go above them with the rest. Build them even higher...I like that. A symbollic F-you to al Qaeda.
Here is a little of Ground Zero as it appears today:
(This 'Memorial Wall' is right across the street on the side of Engine 10's house. When they talked about this fire house being right across the street --I never realized until standing there it is literally about 10 yards away... Their website has a link to a webcam that is mounted on their roof - where you can look at the WTC site in real time.)