Ground Zero

My First Trip to New York City since 9/11 - January 2002

I had to go to New York City for a few days for a project. I made my reservations and went online to get the driving directions I needed.

Sunday, January 6, 2002

Then came the first weekend in January. I was ready to drive down to NYC (about 2.5 hours if the traffic is good) on Sunday, late in the afternoon or early in the evening. With the lack of snow so far this season, it was inevitable that this weekend would bring the first snowfall. So I changed my plans and left home early Sunday afternoon. The precipitation was not supposed to start until late afternoon at home, but since I live east of the city, it would hit there first.

Best Western Seaport Inn Best Western Seaport Inn, 33 Peck Slip, New York, NY

I left home around 2:45PM or so. The traffic was good, so I arrived about 5:15PM. I drove down route I95 in Connecticut, took I278 to the Triboro Bridge, went south on the FDR Drive along the East River and took the South Street exit. I then stayed on the access road (South Street) until it passed under the Brooklyn Bridge, and took a right onto Peck Slip.

A light rain was just starting when I arrived. I checked in to the Best Western Seaport Inn at 33 Peck Slip and parked my car at a parking garage close by on Pearl Street.

A week or so before the trip, I had read that an observation platform for ground zero had been built at the corner of Fulton Street and Church Street. Although it was dark already, I decided to walk over and check it out.

Although is was located at the corner of Fulton Street and Church Street, the entrance to the platform is actually at the corner of Fulton Street and Broadway. It was about 9-10 blocks away from the hotel, and the walk, though a little cold and wet, was pleasant.

Brooklyn Bridge at Night

This is a view at night from the hotel room, looking at the Brooklyn Bridge. The building next door blocked most of it, but I could see the lights on the suspension cables, and a US flag on top of it.

When I got there, I found that there was a long line of people waiting to access the platform. Since it was already sprinkling, and knowing that a lot of precipitation was on the way, I decided not to get in line. I figured that I would probably have better luck early on Monday morning than on a Sunday evening.

This evening, I got a sandwich from a delicatessen on Fulton Street, a couple of blocks from the hotel.

Monday, January 7, 2002

On Monday morning, I first walked the half-block to the river before going over to the viewing platform. This is the East River, which runs along the east side of Manhattan. In actuality, since Manhattan is an island, this is really part of the Hudson River, but they call it the East River.

Taking a left out of the hotel and crossing South Street brings you to the river, just downriver from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge The Brooklyn Bridge with the Manhattan Bridge in the background.

Brooklyn Bridge The Brooklyn Bridge.

After taking the photos above, I turned around and took the following photos of the Fulton Fish Market. This is the way it looked in the morning, around 8:15AM or so. Later on, by late morning, the street was empty.

The Fulton Fish Market has since moved to Brooklyn in 2005.

Fulton Fish Market Fulton Fish Market

Fulton Fish Market Fulton Fish Market

Fulton Fish Market Fulton Fish Market

Then I headed back over to the ground zero viewing platform. It was still cold, but there was no precipitation. My hunch from last night was right, as I was able to get directly onto the platform as soon as I got there.

Below are three pictures of ground zero from the platform. The pictures that you usually see on TV are from a higher viewpoint. These pictures are from almost ground level. So these will look different for that reason.
There is little to see now. Since most of the debris above ground has been cleared, they are now working below ground level.
But, when you are standing there, knowing what used to be there, and realizing how many lives were lost, it is still a humbling experience.

The pictures are in order from south to north as you look at the site from the platform.

Ground Zero Ground Zero

Ground Zero Ground Zero

Ground Zero Ground Zero

Ground Zero Close Up Ground Zero

This photo is a close-up of the center of the area. You can see where they are working on the portions of the complex that were below ground level.

On the corner where the viewing platform is located is St. Paul's church. Along the wall in front of the church is an impromtu memorial of things left by visitors. I overheard a policeman telling a visitor that the items here are periodically taken down and stored somewhere. But still, the wall was full of items. After visiting the platform, I walked back and took a few pictures of the memorial. The first picture was taken from the spot where you exit from the viewing platform. The other two were taken as I walked back in front of the church.

St. Paul's Church St. Paul's Church

St. Paul's Church St. Paul's Church

St. Paul's Church St. Paul's Church

Later on, I saw another memorial area further south along Broadway.

I went to the customer site, and we finished up for the day in early afternoon. I then walked back to the hotel, left my "business" stuff there, and ventured back out.

Just south past the fish market is the South Street Seaport. This time of year, and in this weather, it is pretty quiet. But we were here once in the summer, and this spot was a bustling hive of humanity. It had started snowing in the afternoon, but it was too warm for it to stick, so everything just got wet, as you can see in the next two photos.

South Street Seaport South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport South Street Seaport

Part of the seaport is Pier 17, a three floor mall with many shops and retaurants. The next two photos were taken from outside areas on the second and third floors.

South Street Seaport Pier 17 South Street Seaport Pier 17

South Street Seaport Pier 17 South Street Seaport Pier 17

Tonight, I ate at an Irish pub called P.J. Kelly's on Fulton Street, just a few blocks from the hotel. There were lots of Irish decorations mixed with New York City momentos. The atmosphere, beer and food were all good.

Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Because we had learned that this project would be ending on Tuesday, I checked out of my hotel this morning. I left my baggage with the front desk and walked to the customer site.
While there, we learned about another project that we could begin on Wednesday, so as we left this customer site, I called our corporate travel agency and made reservations for the rest of the week. Although the new customer site was in Queens, the people I was with told me that it would be better to stay in Manhattan and use the subway or a taxi to get to Queens in the morning.
I had heard on Monday that the Marriott Financial Center had just re-opened. I did not know the address, but I knew it was in this area, so I had them make me a reservation there. Because our company has a special deal with Marriott, the daily rate was only a few dollars more than the Best Western.

Brooklyn Bridge - Closer On my way back to the Best Western, I took a small detour and got this shot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

I retrieved my bags from the Best Western and took a cab to the Marriott.
The Best Western has a deal with the parking garage where my car was parked, where it would cost me $20.00 per day instead of their normal rate of $26.00 per day. So I decided to leave it there.
It would not have been too long a walk, but with my luggage, it would have been a hassle. So I took the cab.
It ended up costing $4.40, and I gave him a five for the fare, and then two ones for his tip. (For a total tip of $2.60 -- it was probably not necessary to tip that much, but for short rides in the city, it is usually best to give them a little more than usual.)
The street in front of the hotel (West Street) was blocked to most traffic, but they let the cab through as far as the hotel. The hotel had just re-opened, and they were still working things out with the city and the cab companies.

Ground Zero Platform at Fulton and Church Streets

To get an idea of where the hotel is located, take a look at this photo I took from the viewing platform at ground zero.
This is the first photo I took when I got on the platform, before I got to the railing. The buildings shown are on the south side of ground zero, and are covered with the material used when a building is undergoing repairs. These buildings were close enough that they were damaged in the catastrophe.
Between the tall building with the U.S. Flag on it, and the shorter building to the right of it, you can see a building behind them. That is the Marriott Financial Center. It was still undergoing some renovations, but was now open for business.

View from my room at the Marriott Financal Center

This is the view from my room at the Marriott. That is the Hudson River that you can see, with New Jersey on the other side. If that building was not in the way to the left of the photo, you might be able to see the Statue of Liberty beyond it.

In the little hallway where the elevators are, there is a window that looks out in the direction of ground zero. The next two photos were taken through this window.

View of Ground Zero from the Marriott Financal Center Damaged building next door undergoing renovation

View of Ground Zero from the Marriott Financal Center Ground Zero

After checking in and getting settled, I walked back over to the east side of lower Manhattan. On the taxi ride to the hotel, the driver had gone down South Street, through the undergound Battery Bypass, and then up West Street. During the ride down South Street, I had seen a memorial set up at a fire house. So I walked back to get pictures.

Memorial at FDNY on South Street Memorial at an FDNY station on South Street

As I was walking back toward the west side, I passed this building in the photo below, which I'm sure must be the house featured in the movie Kate & Leopold.

The house from the movie Kate and Leopold The house from the movie Kate and Leopold

Continuing my walk, I traversed Wall Street and got this photo of the New York Stock Exchange. The "flag" on the front is all made up of lights. Wall Street continues on to the right of this picture. This entrance is on a cross street.

New York Stock Exchange New York Stock Exchange

When you get to the end of Wall Street, and take a left onto Broadway, one block down you come to the famous statue of the bull. For those who do not know, the bull is a symbol of a rising market, which is the reason this statue is here.

New York Stock Exchange Bull Statue New York Stock Exchange Bull Statue
New York Stock Exchange Bull Statue New York Stock Exchange Bull Statue

In the first photo of the bull above you can see a building in the background. As you continue down Broadway, past the bull, you come to the Custom House. This is just before you get to Battery Park, which is at the southern tip of Manattan.

Custom House Custom House

Battery Park is where you catch the tours of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Also, this is where you get the ferry to Staten Island.

That evening, I ate at another Irish pub called Moran's, which was right around the corner from the hotel. Again, there were lots of Irish decorations mixed with New York City momentos. The atmosphere, beer and food were all good.

This evening, on the news, they said that, because of the crowds and the long lines, there was going to be a new procedure for accessing the viewing platform. They are going to give away free tickets with time stamps on them, which you would have to use to get access to the platform. You can get these tickets at the ticket booth at the South Street Seaport, which is about 10 blocks from the platform.

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Today, I took the subway to the customer site in Queens. I took the number 4 train uptown to Grand Central (express -- two stops before Grand Central), then the number 7 train to Queens. I had to take the local number 7, but for where I was going this made little difference.
The last part of the ride is on an elevated portion of the subway, and I must say, this part of Queens is nothing to look at. This is a business/industrial area, and hopefully, the residential areas of Queens are better.
We worked a full day on Wednesday, so when we were done, I went straight back to the hotel.

This evening, since it was a little later than the previous evenings, I ate at the hotel, and just had a cheeseburger. It was good but a little pricey.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Again today, I went over the East River (or rather under it) to Queens. An almost full day of work, and I was back in Manhattan.

Tonight, I went to another delicatessen around the corner from the Marriott, got a sandwich, a couple of beers and some desert, and took them back to the hotel.

View of Ground Zero from the Marriott Financal Center This is another photo of ground zero from the hotel, taken on Wednesday night with the zoom feature of the camera, after dark.
View of Ground Zero from the Marriott Financal Center Yet another picture of ground zero from the hotel, taken on thursday with the zoom feature of the camera.

Friday, January 11, 2002

This morning, I was going to walk around and find a good place for breakfast before heading home. However, it was raining, so I just got a cab back to the parking garage, and got some breakfast on the way home.
Because of the work going on, many of the streets are closed, and the cab driver had a difficult time getting out of the area, and back to the other side of Manhattan. However, he did a good job without causing me extra fare, so I gave him a decent tip.
Once I got my car from the garage, I went over to South Street, headed uptown to Houston Street, which I took across to the West Side Highway. I followed this north to Route 95 and then back to Connecticut.

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Contents © Copyright 2001 Author: Lee Briggs except where noted. All rights reserved.