Finding Lightness at the World Trade Center

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

 

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Waiting for the Bus at Sundown

  1. 20170307_17253320170307_173813I  tend to wax poetic in my posts about New York City. Today I will not cover art, music, dance or culture. I will simply share some photos taken with my Samsung Galaxy 7 camera while enduring an extra long wait for the bus in Brooklyn. Waiting, after all, is part of contemporary life, especially for urbanites.

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New Second Avenue Subway Stations Offer a Top Notch Art Experience for $2.75 or Less

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A few of Vik Muniz’s “characters,” or people seen riding the subway, from actual photos

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The dawn of a new year has brought considerable excitement to residents of Manhattan’s storied Upper East Side, to Q line subway  riders (myself included), to transit enthusiasts, and to admirers of public and contemporary art (me again!).

The multi-billion Second Avenue Subway project, decades in the making, opened with a bang on New Years Day 2017, debuting a reconfigured 63rd and Lexington Avenue Station, and three bright and spacious new stations at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street and Second Avenue, all serviced by the Q train.

It’s not often that we New Yorkers feel good about our subway stations, but what I saw blew me away.  I won’t go into great detail*, as much has already been written, but will share some images of the permanent art on display.

Over the last 20+ years, commissioned public art has become much more commonplace in the City’s transit hubs.  The art is usually added to rehabilitated stations.  This time, the art and the stations where designed with each other in mind and the result is stunning!

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Sarah Sze’s monumental “Blueprint for a Landscape” at the 96th Street station

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Some of the murals and mosaics can be viewed by simply entering the stations before one reaches the turnstiles, like this one, by Chuck Close.

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To see all of the art work, one can pay only $2.75, ride up to 96th Street, and then visit each stop: 86th, 72nd and 63rd  on the way back downtown. There’s no need to pay $25 to visit a local art museum!

The slideshow below features images by Chuck Close at the 86th Street Station

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Kudos to all who worked to complete these stations.  They are worth a visit!

*For more on the history of the Second Avenue Subway: http://nyti.ms/2iGcmey