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Re: NYC gardens - WTC

  • Subject: Re: [cg] NYC gardens - WTC
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Sat, 12 Oct 2002 16:39:35 EDT

Friends,

I wish I knew less about the WTC, in my town, it's like the large gorilla in 
the corner that nobody really wants to talk about anymore, but still really 
dominiates much of our public discourse. Sometimes, because the media didn't 
choose to cover the right things, public perception/reaction is not as 
reflective of reality as it might be.  As someone who worked there during the 
first bombing back in '93 (and coughed out soot for a month after descending 
down 60 flights of stairs with the help of firemen)  saw the second plane hit 
and with thousands of others helped support the recovery effort, I learned a 
few things.  While this is slightly off topic ( community gardening) please 
bear with me.

Re: "When the T.V. stations were surveying the country about what the 
memorial at the World Trade Center site should be, I thought that it should 
be a statute of an Indian with a handful of beads with a sign engraved that 
says, "What
goes around comes around."  When the World Trade Center was built,  
thousandsof families lost their homes."

Re: My father-in-law's  last job in NYC before he retired  as a tin-knocker ( 
sheet metal worker) was at the WTC where he helped install the 
airconditioning duct-work.  He had a great deal of respect for native 
American ironworkers from the Mohawk tribe who were, as he said, the best of 
the best. He said that the only reason why the WTC didn't go up faster was 
that there weren't enough Mohawks on the job, whose sure footedness and 
craftsmanship is legendary.  

After 9/11,  I spent many lunch hours loading trucks of ventilators, boots 
and other items that workers at the site needed at a volunteer warehouse near 
my job.   A few weekends, I went on deliveries to Ground Zero or the Fresh 
Kills Sanitation facility on Staten Island.  I remember passing out boots, 
ventilator filters and cigarettes to some ironworkers from the Mohawk tribe 
one Saturday last fall.  One of the younger guys had feathers hanging from 
his helmet ( to make a point, I guess, the older guys were known entities to 
their co-workers. ) 

Handing out the stuff, I thanked everyone for being there and their work at 
disentangling a then huge pile of rubble and steel in NY style, "How ya 
doin'. Does this fit? Thanks for being here with us...sure take another for 
your buddy. "   But this was interesting, one of the Mohawks said, " My dad 
worked on the WTC site and it paid for our house upstate. ( Note: the 
reservation near the Canadian border).  Another Mohawk, "We had great 
Christmases those years growing up, didn't we guys? All of our dads worked 
the job.  Hanging out on the roof  in Brooklyn ( the Mohawk Iroworkers mostly 
live around Greenpoint)   it was always something to say that our Dads built 
that. Hope to get a chance at the new job."

Re: "What goes around comes around" - People from all nationalities died in 
the WTC that day  including Saudi and Arab nationals who went to work at 
their offices and didn't come home. The writer  of that statement was better 
than that.  

Re: When the World Trade Center was built,  thousandsof families lost their 
homes.

In fact, unlike other large scale mid-century NYC construction projects ( 
like Lincoln Center, which dispossessed 7,000 and  the Midtown Tunnel which 
dispossessed 15,000 folks in Hell's Kitchen) the WTC land condemnation 
hearings only dispossed the electronic businesses (radio kits, ship radios) 
that were sited in the 7 acred WTC site.  While some folks lived above the 
stores in tenement type buildings, only about 200 families had to move. The 
WTC was a  place for 35,000 people to work in - key to the economy of the 
region and the nation. A fair trade-off.

Right now, there are a great many proposals in the works for how the WTC site 
is rebuilt. I'm a fan of 50,000 units of affordable housing with a respectful 
memorial and  open volunteer green space ( AKA community gardens) .  Others 
want a large memorial park and others want to build four towers.  For 
information on some of these suggestions, you may want to go to the Project 
for Public Spaces website.

P.S. In this month's Atlantic Monthly ( there's a picture of Uncle Sam 
carrying Iraq on his back on the cover) the fine American novelist John 
Updike has wrapped his mind around 9/11 and written the best piece of fiction 
about the event I've seen yet.  Sometimes an artist sees things that the rest 
of us don't. A must read.

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman

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