Olumide Ebimo Amungo
A visit to the World Trade Center made me reflect on America’s capacity to rebuild and regenerate
There is a saying that we all can remember where we were on September 11, 2001 when two planes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Truth is I just can’t remember my exact location that day but I remember watching on television as a plane ploughed into the North tower at 8.46am local time and while people were still processing what just happened, a second plane plunged into the South tower. Another memory of that day was seeing both towers collapse and disintegrates in a cascade of concrete and steel.
September 11, 2001 was a momentous day in global history, an unprecedented attack on America on a scale as audacious as the attack on Pearl Harbor. It brought a decisive response from America and defined the presidency of George W. Bush. America took the war to the terrorists who planned that brazen affront, Al Qaeda, chased them into the caves of Afghanistan, overthrew their Taliban collaborators and finally killed their leader, Osama Bin Laden after a ten year manhunt.
New York has since moved on from that attack and rebuilt and for the 60 million tourists who throng the city yearly, a visit to the World Trade Center is a must. The new World Trade Center has five skyscrapers, a memorial and museum to those killed in the attacks, and a modern transportation hub. The lead building is One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the United States and the Western Hemisphere, it has 104 floors and an observatory that gives the best view of New York to 3.5 million people who visit it yearly.
So I went to the World Trade Centre the other day. As I came off the subway at Fulton Street I was hit by the alluring sight of One World Trade Center shimmering in the bright New York summer sun. While mingling among the Indians, Germans, Chinese, Mexicans and peoples of the world at milled around, I realized that the owners seized the opportunity to create a shiny new replica for the destroyed complex. The buildings in in the new World Trade Center are postmodern, as bold and shiny as one finds in Dubai or Singapore. The transport hub stands apart from all the stations in New York.
This modernity contrasts with the old nature of the city with its ancient building and aging transport infrastructure. Let’s not forget that the New York Metro is over a hundred years old and iconic buildings like Empire State Building and Chrysler Building are 90 years old.
The September 11 memorial stirs the spirit of visitors as the soothing effect of its two 1-acre (4,000 m2) pools, with the largest man-made waterfalls in the United States, mute the sounds of the city, making the site a contemplative sanctuary. The names of 2,983 victims are inscribed on 152 bronze parapets on the memorial pools.
When I left the World Trade Center complex, I could not help but reflect on the capacity of humanity to rise up from adversity. The people of New York have shown an uncommon capacity for rebirth with the regeneration of the World Trade Center.