Monday, March 31, 2008

Ground Zero -- FDNY Memorial Wall

The World Trade Center complex and the Twin Towers were once such a big part of the New York City downtown skyline. I believe over 50,000 people were employees or visitors in those buildings every day. My husband worked in 7 World Trade Center -- the last building of the complex, which was also the last building to fall on 9/11 due to damage and fires started by the collapse of Twin Tower One.
Luckily my husband was not in his office that day, as he was on an assignment, and no one from his office was hurt. He did personally know some of the people who were killed on that tragic day, however, and it took a long time of mourning for us to be able to bear with the grief of that and a world forever changed. Even now, seven years later, it is hard to look at the NY skyline and not see those buildings reaching up so proud and majestically.

This diagram shows the layout of the World Trade Center buildings which were all destroyed by the collapse of the towers, and here is a timeline of the area from prior to the official dedication of the World Trade Center in April of 1973, to developments post 9/11.

photo courtesy Fox News

The 16 acres of land where the World Trade Center once stood has become known as "Ground Zero."

Much of lower Manhattan was barricaded after 9/11 for the rescue/recovery phase and then the demolition and removal of the debris. Many businesses in the area were interrupted or permanently closed because of this. Over time more and more of the surrounding blocks were reopened and the area began to recover as resilient New Yorkers were determined to bring commerce and business back to lower Manhattan. Presently, Ground Zero is almost completely concealed by construction fences as the rebuilding has begun.



This is the first building that has been rebuilt, the new 7 World Trade Center. It is higher and thinner than the prior building and the exterior walls are almost all glass which makes it very reflective. The new building also has many new safety and environmental features


Below is a view of the outside staircase that survived Sept. 11, and remained the only above ground remnant of the trade center complex. Its 37 stairs once connected the outdoor plaza outside the twin towers to the street below. It served as an escape route for countless survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center.
After years of debate over whether and how to preserve the structure, it's moving about 200 feet west on the site, to be stored until it can be installed at the Sept. 11 memorial.
Preservationists and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attack began campaigning years ago to leave the staircase where it was, but it sat in the middle of the footprint of one of five skyscrapers being built to replace the destroyed towers.
This staircase is especially significant to me as I use to wait at the bottom for my husband when he left his building when I visited him at work. It was near a coffee shop with outdoor tables, and a subway entrance was nearby where we would catch the train back to Brooklyn. I am pleased that it will be preserved as part of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Here is an Earth Cam web site of Ground Zero where you can follow the progress of the construction of the "Freedom Tower" , the new 1,776 foot building that will be the centerpiece fro the new World Trade center.
Below is "10 House " Ladder 10 Engine 10 of the FDNY. It is located at 124 Liberty Street which is right across the street from the World Trade Center site. It lost 6 firemen on 9/11 and was severely damaged that day. It reopened November 5, 2003.

Below is a plaque on the firehouse front wall that memorializes the six fallen firemen from this firehouse.
An impressive 56 foot long and 6 foot high Memorial Wall is located at the Ten House western side, and is "dedicated to those who fell and to those who carry on." It was a gift from the law firm Holland & Knight to honor the 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and a Holland & Knight partner who perished on 9-11-2001.
This is the dedication plaque:

And the following are pictures of the large bronze bas-relief memorial bolted to the side of the firehouse





You can go here to see the plaque close up and in greater detail. To read all the fallen firemen's names on the plaque go here and click on the bottom plaque for close ups.

It truly is a wonderful and inspiring memorial to these brave heroes. There is also a beautiful tribute on the FDNY web site to the fallen firemen. May we never forget them, and may they rest in peace.


My next blog I'll end my day in lower Manhattan with a few miscellaneous photos of other points of interest that are in the area.
Thanks for all of your interest and kind comments. I hope all that have been reading will consider visiting New York City someday to see all of these sights yourself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

St. Paul's Chapel --"The Little Chapel That Stood"

Opened for worship October 30, 1766 St. Paul's Episcopal Chapel as part of the Trinity Wall Street parish which is five blocks south. It has witnessed the unfolding history of New York City and our nation. The above picture is a view of St. Paul's Chapel from Church Street, between Fulton and Vesey Street.
The picture below is taken from the small cemetery in front churchyard of the chapel, and looks out across Church Street towards the Ground Zero area which contained the World Trade Center complex including the Twin Towers. which was destroyed on 9/11. The buildings visable in the picture are that of the World Financial Center on West Street.

This stump is all that remains of a 100 year old sycamore tree that once stood in the NW corner of St. Paul's churchyard. The tree was toppled on September 11, 2001 when the collapse of the Trade Towers sent tons of debris hurtling towards the chapel. Miraculously, this tree and others in the churchyard saved the chapel from damage, and not a single pane of glass was broken throughout the church. In 2005 the sculptor Steve Tobin worked with tree experts to preserve this tree stump, and he also created the bronze memorial sculpture based on the tree's roots which is on display in Trinity Church's front plaza, which I described in my prior blog post about Trinity Church.

Also in St. Paul's churchyard is "The Bell Of Hope" which was presented to the people of New York by the Lord Mayor Of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 11, 2002 as a symbol of solidarity between the British and American people after the 9/11 tragedy. It was cast in the Whitechapel Foundry, which also cast the Liberty Bell and London's Big Ben.

The bell is rung every September11 to symbolize the triumph of hope over tragedy.



This modest plaque is in the entrance to the chapel and explains its enormous historic significance. (sorry about the flash glare but it was too dark in the vestibule to take the picture without it)

Andrew Gauthier built St. Paul's chapel, and it is an example of Georgian Classic-Revival style architecture. In 1766 it was surrounded by farmland and orchards, and it was considered a remote "country church" which accommodated parishioners living on the outskirts of town. The steeple was added in 1794, and many regarded the chapel as the most elegant edifice in the city at that time. The "Glory" altarpiece is by Col. Pierre L'Enfant, The French architect who designed the city of Washington D.C. The white clouds and golden lighting represent the glory of God, and the Hebrew word for God, "Yahweh", is seen in a triangle above the two tablets of the Ten Commandments.


The organ case in the back of the chapel was built in 1804. The organ was rendered un-usable after the dust of the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Fourteen original cut glass chandeliers hang in the nave and galleries.
In the wake of 9/11 many people in Oklahoma City, remembering the devastation from the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building a few years earlier, felt a special camaraderie with the people of New York City. Pam Meyers, and her husband Alan, an Oklahoma firefighter, created the Oklahoma City Banner. They brought it to all of the fire stations and EMT units that were first to respond to the Murrah bombing, and collected signatures and messages of support from the firefighters and emergency workers. Hanging in St. Paul's, this banner had a profound, comforting affect on many workers, and you can see it still hangs in the chapel in the picture below.
St Paul's contains the tomb of a hero of the American Revolution, Brigadier Richard Montgomery, who was the first officer killed in battle in 1775.
In the north aisle of the church is George Washington's pew box, where the first president worshipped after his inauguration on April 30, 1789. St. Paul's remained President Washington's church until the U. S. capital was relocated to Philadelphia in 1790.

After the tragic events of 9/11 St. Paul's, became known as "The Little Chapel That Stood." Within days of the terrorist attack it launched a 24/7 volunteer relief ministry for the recovery workers at Ground Zero. It was home to an extraordinary eight-month volunteer relief effort, and became a symbol of both the sorrow of the nation for those lost, and the bravery and heroics of those who helped in the aftermath recovery. St. Paul's opened its doors for tired and weary Ground Zero workers to rest and sleep in the Chapel. During the late night hours, workers stretched out on cots or in the pews. In 12 hour shifts people would serve meals, make beds, counsel and pray with the fire fighters, construction workers, police officers, and others. Medical personnel, massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, and other volunteers helped to turn the chapel into a sanctuary for hope and healing for over 2,000 workers each day.
There are still many displays in St. Paul's as part of an exhibit that chronicles the ministry of the church after 9/11. Below is an altar on the south side in the chapel which is covered with pictures and messages about victims of the terrorist attack that were left by family members and friends.


Fire and police badges from around the nation and the world have been sent to the chapel as a sign of sympathy and solidarity with the firemen and police in the City of New York after the tragic events of 9/11.
Sue Lucarelli, a NYC teacher and St. Paul's volunteer, began a program to collect teddy bears for New York City school children to help them cope with the events of September 11th. She received so many teddy bears that she decided to bring some to the Chapel for the workers. In the midst of tragedy, the teddy bears provided many rescue and recovery workers with comfort.

On April 16, 2007 in a controversial move, St. Paul's removed the pews that were once on either side of the aisle in an effort to enhance the flexibility of the church for worship, music and civic events. They were replaced by movable wooden chairs. A very interesting narrated slide show about this can be viewed here.
The pews were used in the relief effort after 9/11 by recovery units, and they were scarred and scratched by their heavy boots and gear as they tossed and turned, trying to catch a few hours of sleep before returning to the pit of Ground Zero. Afterward these scratches became symbols of both their service and the chapel's service, and the decision was made not to repair them. In this new renovation two of the pews were left in the chapel as a memorial, and two will be donated to the future World Trade Center Memorial Museum to be put on display.


Below is the front of St. Paul's Chapel as viewed from Broadway. The empty gap of sky behind it is a constant reminder to the people of New York of the tragic loss of the World Trade Center.
There are daily Prayers for Peace said each day at 12:30 pm in St. Paul's Chapel. Here is a PDF of the "Prayers For Peace" booklet St. Paul's distributes that contains the service and also sacred prayers for peace from the twelve major religions of the world. Please join them in mind and spirit from wherever you live.

Next blog I'll walk by Ground Zero and the Engine 10 Ladder 10 Firehouse Memorial plaque for the 345 fallen firemen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trinity Church

Trinity Church, located at 74 Trinity Place at Broadway and Wall Street, New York City, is a historic full service parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The Parish of Trinity Church was founded by charter of King William III of England in 1697, and three church buildings have existed on its location. The original Trinity Church finished construction in 1698 and appeared modest in design. Unfortunately, this first church was destroyed in 1776 by a massive fire stemming from an American Revolution battle. The second church building was built in 1790 but it could not withstand subsequent harsh winters, and subsequently had to be torn down.
The present Trinity Church, designed by Richard Upjohn and consecrated on Ascension Day in 1846, is considered a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



At the time the church was built, its 281 foot spire and cross stood as the highest point in New York City.

Lower Manhattan has since grown up around the church, and it has been dwarfed by the large skyscrapers that surround it.

As you can see from the view of the picture at left, the World Trade Center towers, which were destroyed by an act of terrorism on September 11, 2001, were located only a few blocks NW from Trinity Church.





As you walk through the front gates surrounding the church building you will immediately see this sculpture to the left. This 18 foot tall bronze sculpture of a sycamore's tree's roots structure was made by the artist Steve Tobin. It commemorates the sycamore tree in nearby St. Paul's church grounds which is known as “the tree that saved St. Paul’s Chapel,” because it took the brunt of damage from debris falling from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, while the chapel remained relatively unscathed. The artist saw the uprooted tree roots as a metaphor for our unity and our strength after the tragic events of 9/11.

As you walk up the steps at the front of the church you will see this plaque embedded in the floor in front of the entrance. It commemorates the visit on July 9, 1976 of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.
Left front door
Right front door

The great bronze front door's of Trinity Church were designed by Richard Morris Hunt, are a memorial to John Jacob Astor III in 1896. They each weigh several tons, and depict biblical scenes. A view inside the church. The nave windows contain some of the oldest stained glass in the United States, and the Chancel windows were once the largest expanse of stained glass windows in the United States at the time of installation, The altar is made from sandstone and Italian marble, and was a memorial to William B Astor, a son of John Jacob Astor. Within the church walls are a Baptistery, an All Saints Chapel, a North and a South Monument Room, and a museum.

There are two organs -- one located in the Chancel and one in the Gallery. After the dust, smoke and ash of 9/11 destroyed the pipe organ, it was replaced with a Marshall and Ogletree virtual pipe organ.


This is a door leading from the side of the church into the churchyard.


There are two churchyards on either side of Trinity Church which contain cemeteries. The burial grounds have been the final resting place for many historic figures including Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, Robert Fulton, and Albert Gallatin, since the Churchyard cemetery opened in 1697. A non-denominational cemetery, it is listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places.

The Northside churchyard contains the oldest grave in New York City, dated 1681, that of five year old Richard Churcher.




ALEXANDER HAMILTON (GRAVE & MONUMENT)1804

The best known of thousands buried in Trinity Churchyard, Alexander Hamilton occupies a place in the annals of the nation's history, and its historical imagination. He was the first treasurer of the United States and the founder of The Bank of New York, the nation's oldest commercial lender. His likeness appears on the ten-dollar bill.
Wounded in a pistol duel with longtime foe Aaron Burr, Hamilton died in the pastoral care of the Episcopal Bishop of New York, Benjamin Moore, who was also the Rector of Trinity Church.


WILLIAM BRADFORD 1752
Known as “The Father of American printing,” William Bradford established the American colony’s first press, in Philadelphia, after his emigration from England in 1683. He became a fierce defender of press freedom. Bradford moved to New York in 1703, where he became a Trinity Vestryman. Under Trinity’s auspices he created the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer to be printed in America in 1710.
ROBERT FULTON 1815
While not the first to build a steamboat, Robert Fulton navigated the concept to practical success, with his boat Clermont traveling the Hudson from New York City to Albany in 1807.
Fulton married Harriet Livingston at Trinity on January 7, 1808. The steamboat pioneer is buried in the churchyard’s Livingston vault. A monument was erected to his memory by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1901.
ALBERT GALLATIN 1849
A Statesman, Albert Gallatin served under the first six presidents of The United States as a member of Congress, author of the Treaty of Ghent, Minister to France, envoy to Britain, and Secretary of Treasury. He was a founder of New York University.

Some pictures of other interesting old gravestones in the Trinity churchyard:





Trinity Church is a beautiful and fascinating place, and I hope you will consider visiting it if you are in New York City.
I'll continue my "Day in Lower New York" blog next time with a visit to St. Paul's Chapel, Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use.