Monday, July 05, 2004

Final Update: Independence Day

I know I promised to go on with the two original threads, but this year's Independence Day deserves its own post.

In the morning, the 20-ton granite cornerstone for the Freedom Tower was laid, signaling the commencement of the rebuilding effort at the WTC site. It was an emotional morning, given the historic gravity of the moment, and the moral significance of the event.

I must say, although aesthetically not necessarily the most elegant or admirable, these factors alone contribute to my reverence for the new Freedom Tower. The fact that it will be the tallest building in the world, at 1776 feet (signifying the year of our country's independence), and designed as a complement to the Statue of Liberty, it will be inspiring to see.

The Freedom Tower in the night sky

Also, despite the controversy this has caused, I will say I am a fan of the memorial finalized by the WTC Memorial Competition, which is part of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. I find its quiet serenity and its concept to be tasteful -- Daniel Libeskind claims that: "to commemorate those lost lives, I created two large public places, the Park of Heroes and the Wedge of Light. Each year on September 11th between the hours of 8:46 a.m., when the first airplane hit and 10:28 a.m., when the second tower collapsed, the sun will shine without shadow, in perpetual tribute to altruism and courage."

Surprisingly, some people have attacked this concept on the basis that after 10:28 a.m., there will be shadows on this lot, which, to me seems an idiotic complaint -- I suppose we could lift the entire WTC site onto some type of a rapidly moving craft so that no shadows will ever fall on it, or, to avoid earth's rotation and any effects of weather altogether, shall we launch it into space? I only say that the complaints are idiotic because they offer no alternative solutions or ideas to an existing idea one has obviously spent a significant amount of time and energy conceiving -- in my opinion, critiques with no alternate suggestions border on simple whinings, and frankly, should be dismissed until such a time that these people have come up with a novel, alternate solution.

As such, although the LMDC has been criticized by innumerous complaints about its rebuilding effort, I am in full support of the whole concept and effort. I do think it is a tastefully conceived and executed memorial -- I don't think I would have been able to come up with a better concept. In addition, I think the lattice structure that top the tower (the Gardens of the World) is an intelligent and beautifully executed solution against another possibility of a terror strike, and I like the fact that there will be wind-turbines that will help provide power to the building.

An aerial view of the Freedom Tower and the WTC Memorial

Finally, I will admit, as a New Yorker, it makes me happy to know that we will have the world's tallest building again, replacing the Petronas Towers finally. Below is what the skyline looking downtown will look like after the Freedom Tower's completion (supposedly) in 2008.

The Freedom Tower bookended by the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. The Brooklyn Bridge is visible to the left of the Chrysler, and the Woolworth is visible just above the Pan Am/Met Life Building

For two solid years after 9/11, I was unable to gaze downtown because I hadn't come to terms with the Twin Towers being gone. It was only recently I have been able to gaze that way, and once the Freedom Tower is complete, I think I will be able to gaze downtown again with a sense of pride. Of course, the WTC had served as a directional cue for me whenever I would surface from the subway, so I would guess that the Freedom Tower will obviously serve that purpose for me again.

Speaking of subways, we had another subway series here in New York, the Yankees vs. the Mets. Unfortunately, the Yanks were swept by the Mets, but I will say that the Yankees had a rough schedule this week -- last weekend, the Yanks played the Mets, then during the week, the Red Sox, and then the Mets again. That's a pretty rough schedule -- and Jeter was injured during a great play he made during the series against the Red Sox. When it's all done and said, however, the Yanks are still so far ahead of any other team in the entire league that it really doesn't matter.

In other notes in sports, it was a great week -- unfortunately, Roddick was defeated by the defending champion Federer at Wimbledon, but Sharapova defeated Williams, which i was excited about. I know I mentioned my disdain for Kournikova before, and Sharapova is a prime example of what I was saying then -- Sharapova plays with such intensity, and at 17, she has many years ahead of her. In Formula 1, BAR/Honda had another decent race in France, bringing them into third place in the constructor's cup, which I was very happy about. Finally, it caught everybody by surprise, but Greece won the EuroCup, which in of itself was impressive.

With that said, my parents and I went to Tsuneko and Shoji Sadao's (who is on the Board of the Isamu Noguchi foundation) apartment in the UES to watch the fireworks. Because they live in one of the top floors in the tallest building in the UES (which, again, was a controversey of its own back in its day), we were able to see fireworks well into Long Island to the east, New Jersey to the west, and of course, all of the Macy's spectacular to the South, practically every barge was visible from there, with a clear backdrop of the Empire State and Chrysler Building, and the Metropolitan and the Guggenheim Museums at our feet. It was a beautiful, leisurely evening, with great food...


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