90 West Street, NYC
Danny Gregory made a moving post and drawing of the building at 90 West Street bordering Ground Zero in New York City :
I was riding my bike down the West Side yesterday afternoon and passed Ground Zero. It's a big construction site these days and, like a typical New Yorker, I just breezed past.
For some reason, this time I noticed the West Street Building on the south west corner and I stopped. I looked at it and I saw it for the first time. It's a landmark building, built in 1905 by Cass Gilbert who also designed my all-time downtown favorite, the Woolworth Building.
While all of the modern buildings round the site are either gone, rebuilt or heavily shrouded, the West Street building was openly wounded. Its Parisian mansard roof is completely draped in black steel mesh. Large pieces of its limestone facade are smashed or cracked off. Its terra cotta tiles, installed for fireproofing, helped to protect it from the burning columns that fell off 2 WTC but took a beating. Ornamental busts around the front door were decapitated. Through the empty windows I could see rubble in what once an elegant interior.
This building was so stately and built to endure. Now, it stands with gaping holes. My instinctive reaction was an angry sadness that the people who did this knew nothing about our city, didn't understand the significance of the history they erased. Not that it would have influenced them.
I noticed this building too when I went there last March, for the first time after 9/11. Actually it's rather hard to miss for it is so different from all other buildings around. Or may be it was my parisian eyes and love for architecture, facing the painful contrast of the images pre-9/11 I had of the WTC area in my memory and the giant open wound that Ground Zero still is.
I made a lot of pictures back then but didn't feel like posting them. But after seeing Danny's drawing, and even so this is quite prosaic, I'd like to share them.
The weather was really ugly, only grey clouds, when not raining. Click on a picture to get a bigger version.
The last one shows the building next to 90 West, I found this tall metal skeleton wrapped in a black shroud impressive, even scarry.