9/11 an event that defines a place…

On our last day in New York yesterday we headed downtown to Ground Zero. The Freedom Tower is climbing ever higher (the posters say they are well past the halfway stage – 104 storeys will be the top). It is already tall – and can be seen from all around town – in Manhattan that’s an impressive feat.

We had managed to reserve tickets to the newly opened National 9/11 Memorial. It is free but you are invited to make a donation.

9/11 really did make a mark on this place – both physically and mentally. The scars are still there to see. No one can really forget this images from 10 years ago – firstly the planes crashing into the towers to the later horrifying images of people jumping and finally to the crashing down of the towers.

I have been to the site lots of times – and still find it difficult to comprehend the size of the gaping wound left by the terrorists. It is a vast area, but until recently you have been carefully shepherded around the building site.

The Memorial opened this year and you can now go to the park which contains the two ‘infinity pools’. These basically sit where the footprints of the two towers were – each is around 1 acre. It is a sobering place. The pools are a stark reminder of what was here. The names of the 2,983 people who died in the 9/11 attacks are etched in the bronze edgings.

The area has a strange aura of calm – despite some major rebuilding go on around. There were a lot of people too; last week they reached 500,000 visitors side they opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Security is currently really tight – airport standard, but in due course the area will be opened up to the surrounding roadways. There are lawns, planted beds and high quality paved areas in the 8 acre park. You can look up the victims on a number of screens – it is a stark reminder about the pointless waste of life.

Terrorism & Photography

We are carrying out some re-branding at the office. Our details selling or letting property have been freshened up – and I think they look great.

The sort of picture that can get you stopped?

As part of the new look we are incorporating quite a few photographs – more than we used to. I mentioned this earlier in the week here. And so we needed some ‘stock-shots’ to build up the brochures. Although we have some images it was time to refresh these too. My youngest son is a budding photographer and so was ‘commissioned’ to take a whole series of images for the office.

At the weekend he set about the task – he used his bike to get around and was on his 6th ‘property’ – the Porsche dealership on Lenton Lane in Nottingham. He was on the pavement taking a few shots. All was going well until a Policeman pulled up.

What then happened is worrying. Partly because it happened but also because what was said is factually incorrect.

He was asked what he was doing – and he explained he had been commissioned. He was also asked for his name and address – which he refused to give. He did ask why and was told that it was under s.44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He still refused and there was something of a stand-off. The Policemen eventually left him – and Jak carried on.

This is not really acceptable. This is an 18 year old – taking pictures on a public pavement in full view (hardly the actions of a covert terrorism operation). The Policeman quoted s.44 – which is incorrect. The European Court ruled it a breach of civil liberty. The Police are still able to use s.43 of the same Act, but this gives Police the power to stop and search anyone who they “reasonably suspect to be a terrorist under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act.”

Back in March new Laws were introduced – Section 47A gives a “senior police officer” the power to make an authorisation in “relation to a specified area or place” if the officer “reasonably suspects that an act of terrorism will take place” and “considers that the authorisation is necessary to prevent such an act.”

I think this may all have been a bit over the top – ignoring the fact that there was an attempt to harass him with an incorrect piece of Law…

New York – Part Four

I don’t walk this far at home – for two days running (walking?) we have covered nearly seven miles on foot. The first day was warm, the second bitterly cold in the wind chill factor.

The Freedom Tower underway

This is quite a small City really – pinned in to a sliver of an Island just 13 miles longs and 2.3 miles wide. It always feels much bigger, but thats because what they lack in ground cover they more than make up for in height. Some of the buildings make your eyes water looking up.

There really is something about New York – it’s the smell, the noise, the sight’s – all assaulting your senses siumultaneoulsy. It’s not a City for the feint-hearted.

The New Yorkers have a ‘look’ and an attitude. Their initial reaction to you is almost of aggression. They are disarmed by our politeness! They also don’t ‘get’ sarcasm. The man in the Camera shop who asked me what was in the carrier bag (it was small camera bag) was less than impressed with my suggestion of a ‘puppy dog’. That would have been cruel anyway?

We saw Ground Zero yesterday – where works to create the Freedom Tower (more properly known as One World Trade Center) is now well underway – and I guess it is one third up. It is going to have a massive impact on the skyline. It will be 541m high (1,776 ft for those Surveyors amongst you). That is 1/3 mile – and will make it America’s tallest building.

It is, of course, 10 years this year since the events of 9/11. It has taken some time to re-construct this part of town – which was just decimated by the events on that fateful September morning. The 16 acre site makes you realise the devastation suffered. It is reckoned that all of the new skyscrapers on the site will be open by 2015…

You can already see the built form emerging of the faceted faces of OWTC. It looks as though this is going to be some of the most exciting architecture in a City where you can see stunning buildings at every corner. And that’s why you need to walk around this place!