Ground Zero - The Geographic Center of the Financial World

By Joe Francica

40.71° N, 74.01° W, Ground Zero, New York City - These are the coordinates at Washington and
Figure 1 - Click to enlarge
Liberty Streets, Lower Manhattan, the south tower, Two World Trade Center (see map Figure 1).I had the opportunity to be in New York City on November 13TH and toured the area around "Ground Zero" to see what is the Pearl Harbor of our time.You have seen the pictures.In person, the abject destruction is a horrific sight that will shake you.

As I exited the subway station of the "N," I could still sense a persistent acrid, heaviness to the air.Street sweepers continue, two months later, to wash the ash that collects as a result of the continuing clean up of the collapsed towers.A perimeter has been established that is at least one-quarter mile around the entire World Trade Center (WTC) complex.At one of the perimeter fences, at Barclay and Church Streets (See Photo 1), there was a small opening at which each visitor to the scene reverentially took their turn to peer the recovery efforts from a distance.Not far away, a view of 5 World Trade Center told more of the story (Photo 2).

At St.Paul's Church (Photos 3 & 4), near Broadway and Vesey, the scene becomes a gathering place for photos, memorials, flowers, and farewell letters to the fallen friends, relatives, police officers, firefighters, and business colleagues.

At Greenwich Street, looking north, there is a view of the charred remains 4 World Trade Center (Photo 5).There were those who ventured up the street to get as close as they could.But all who approached the police lines did so with solemn regard and with hesitancy; not at all with the mad rush of gawking tourists.At this scene, there is palpable respect for the lives lost on September 11.

Lower Manhattan is also the geographic center of the financial world.The geography of business in New York City has been radically altered since the terrorist attacks.Over 15 million square feet of prime office space has been lost representing approximately 5 percent of all office space in Manhattan.Businesses are currently evaluating their timetable for return to the financial district, if at all.

Some are obviously staying.Costar, a company that monitors the commercial real estate industry has established a site for companies looking for office space in lower Manhattan.They report that companies such as The Bank of New York, a tenant of One World Trade Center has leased approximately 137,000 square feet of office space at One Hudson Square.Offices of The New York Stock Exchange, once headquartered at Two World Trade Center have relocated to 14 Wall St, directly opposite the Exchange's main facility at 11 Wall Street, which still maintains barricades at its entrance to deter any approaching pedestrian or vehicle (Photo 6)

The individual shopkeepers and merchants in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Centers were perhaps affected as much or more than the businesses which occupied the structures.As I walked along Rector Street, shops have the appearance of business "as usual" and continue to cater to Wall Street business people as well as the tourists that have come down to this part of town.But clearly they have suffered enormous economic, as well as emotional, distress.On the day I was there, Costar reported that Governor George E.Pataki announced the $20 million WTC Retail Recovery Grant Program.To be eligible for the grant program, a business must be engaged in the retail sale of goods or personal services, have fewer than 500 employees, and certify its intent to resume business in New York.

As I write this, I find it difficult to bring into words what I experienced at Ground Zero.Taking the few photos that you see on this page felt somewhat irreverent at the time.The area is clearly hallowed ground.Most visitors just stand to look at the buildings that still remain, but no one tries to make sense of it all.

As I walked back toward central Manhattan, I proudly looked up to see the Empire State Building, now and again, the tallest building in the city (Photo 7).

See these other web sites for before and after photos of WTC:

See also Space Imaging's 1-meter IKONOS images at:

Published Thursday, November 29th, 2001

Written by Joe Francica

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