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Ground Zero

  1. the morning line
    Expensive Habits • The Times comes out with some shocking numbers about “frequent fliers” — the addicts that keep entering and quitting rehab. The state spends $50 million a year treating just 500 of these patients, some of whom spend 100 nights a year in detox. [NYT] • There’s a changing of the guard at ground zero: Governor Spitzer has named two new leaders of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. One is, somewhat fittingly, David Emil, the former owner of Windows on the World. [amNY] • Yes, we’re all kinda thinking it, and someone had to be the first, but … Dear Daily News, it might be just a tad — maybe a day or so — early for a cackling op-ed titled “Do you still love those precious guns now, Virginia?” [NYDN] • The three-day nor’easter is going down in weather history. Eight inches of rain fell here in NYC — four times the record for the date; some New Jerseyites had to be evacuated by boat after the Raritan River flooded. [NYP] • And, that silly old couple that traveled to Arizona by yellow cab with their cats, and whose cutesy made-for-TV story we stoically resisted so far, arrived in Sedona. And now they’re out of our jurisdiction, so that’s that. [Gateway to Sedona]
  2. photo op
    War, at Ground Zero The initial plan for the Glassbead Collective’s multimedia antiwar protest at ground zero last night was to project images of war on the still-not-dismantled Deutsche Bank building just south of ground zero. But the building is black, there’s a reason projection screens are usually white, and even with the amazingly bright, 100,000-lumen projector, it seemed another canvas was in order. So the van holding the projector moved from its initial spot Washington and Vesey Streets to someplace on the West Side Highway, projecting north, then U-turned to project the images downtown, onto a building at the southwest corner of the Trade Center site. After about 45 minutes, police finally determined exactly which laws the group was breaking by its overtly public display of protest art: The van was now parked against traffic. The projector was shut down; tickets were written. Then it turned out the van’s driver had a suspended license. He went to the precinct; the others went to a bar. —Everett Bogue
  3. ground-zero watch
    Still With the Names? Of all the delays, scuffles, and tantrums besetting the ground-zero reconstruction effort, none is as fundamentally embarrassing as the general inability to settle on the order of names for the 9/11 memorial. Last we checked, the families of first responders demanded that the cops and firefighters be separated from the “regular” victims, and the original random placement gave way to a bizarre system wherein civilians would be grouped by employer, without naming the employer. Mayor Bloomberg, who chairs the WTC Memorial Foundation, has long been saying he considers the matter closed; that’s why a recent Spitzer remark suggesting “future discussions” threatened to start the whole ordeal anew. But today some good news: The governor and the mayor had a nice long talk yesterday, and they got their positions in sync. Spitzer now says he subscribes to the foundation’s plan. One would think that would be the last hurdle, but no. Some “family and firefighter groups” are still lobbying for the inclusion of victims’ ages and ranks. Yes, let’s introduce rank into this equation, shall we? Mayor Says Spitzer Now Agrees With Him on Listing of 9/11 Names [NYT] Earlier: 9/11 Name Fight Drags On
  4. ground-zero watch
    Now Calatrava’s Transit Hub, Too, Isn’t Quite Working Out as PlannedWe’ve always been partial to Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center transit hub; the building, a kind of spiny origami piece with movable wings, is the most genuinely exciting structure on the site. It’s also the only one that, for a long time, seemed to be getting anywhere. So it’s with a heavy heart that we report the following: The damn thing is suddenly a billion dollars over budget. The projected cost for the hub is now a jaw-dropping $3.4 billion. (And that’s the kind of money, as we learned today, that will buy you about 120 apartment towers in Brooklyn.) The contractors are embarking on a “major value engineering effort” to steer the project back to its original $2.2 billion price-tag. We think we know what that means — dumbed-down form and Plan-B materials — although the builders swear the “overall integrity of the design” will be intact. Screw integrity. Give us the movable wings. $3.4B For WTC Hub a Rail Shock [NYP]
  5. in other news
    Public Life Means Having to Say You’re SorryInspired by Italy’s Veronica Lario — who in a front-page letter printed in yesterday’s La Repubblica requested a public apology from her husband, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, for flirting with and ogling various comely young women and then, even more remarkably, received one — we’d like to see if we, too, can elicit a public apology or two. To everyone involved in ground-zero reconstruction: It’s been five freaking years, and this is all that’s been accomplished? You should be ashamed of yourselves, all of you. (And, yes, at this point that includes you, too, sainted widows and family members.) We think you owe us — all of us, all New Yorkers — an apology. Sincerely, Daily Intel
  6. ground-zero watch
    The Freedom Tower Exists for Anyone Who Truly Believes in It How starved is the city for any tangible progress at ground zero? Well, consider this bit from today’s Times: Stand on Vesey Street, between Greenwich and Washington Streets. Look through the chain-link fences and over the Jersey barriers. The tops of six columns of the tower’s south perimeter are now visible, sprouting from the depths of ground zero. A seventh column, standing alone nearby, is where the Freedom Tower’s east plaza will be … They are visible from the sidewalk now because a second tier of steel has been added to each column, bringing them up to about 8 feet below street level. That’s right, reporter David Dunlap gives you step-by-step instructions on where to stand, which way to face, and how hard to squint to see the thicket of steel that will eventually become the foundation for the Freedom Tower. Imagine the corks that will pop when the construction actually reaches sidewalk level. What a View to Behold, and It’s Really Something [NYT]
  7. the morning line
    39 More at Ground Zero • The most recent search for human remains at Ground Zero has yielded 39 more bones — as well as computer parts and other World Trade Center debris. Most were hidden under a service road that was hastily constructed in 2002 after the original cleanup. [amNY] • Two girls were stabbed — one in the back — in the course of a teenage rumble at Landmark High School, a block away from Carnegie Hall. According to the police, the girls, with their boyfriends, were settling a beef. Both are in stable condition; the stabbers remain at large. [NYP] • Add this to the bizarre scrapbook of factoids from the Freak Winter of 2007: Dolphins have been splashing around in Sag Harbor. It has happened before — but, you know, in the summer. [Newsday] • Two people — a moving contractor and his mother-in-law — are under arrest for stealing two Picassos from a late collector’s house they were hired to clean out. Ironically, the collector in question was the infamous William Kingsland, most of whose art was “hot” in the first place. [NYT] • And a theft at once far more and far less impressive: someone swiped 500,000 pounds of concrete and brick from the future Ikea site in Red Hook. The stuff is valued at about $2,000. Cheap and hard to assemble — it’s like we have an Ikea already. [NYDN]
  8. it just happened
    Freedom Tower Construction Finally Begins, Boringly You see all that excitement? Let the historical record reflect that Saturday, November 18, was the start of construction on Freedom Tower. A mere five years after the Twin Towers were destroyed, and a mere two and a third years after the Freedom Tower cornerstone was laid, the concrete foundation was poured for the 1,776-foot office building. Of course, you still won’t see anything above street level till 2008. Exciting! A Towering Start [NYDN]
  9. the morning line
    Small Victories • Holy crap, could this be …? It is! There is actual construction afoot at ground zero — and on the Freedom Tower, no less. The steel cage defines the areas where elevators and stairwells will go; the pouring of concrete starts tomorrow. And if we’d seen this, oh, let’s see, four and a half years ago, we’d probably burst with pride. [NYT] • In case you want to relive the glory of last Tuesday: A Democratic congressional candidate in Connecticut WON! WON! WON! the recount against his GOP opponent, a three-term incumbent. “Landslide Joe” (hey, he nicknamed himself) Courtney’s sweeping mandate is now officially based on a 91-vote advantage. [NYT] • NYC’s Board of Health might take things slower with the trans-fat ban. It may also give it a form other than a piece of City Council legislation, lest the city be hit with a ton of lawsuits. McDonald’s, by the way, says it will totally comply (even as it’s hiring new high-profile lawyers). [Crain’s] • A fired media executive is in deep trouble for being a good Samaritan, of sorts. Stevan Hoffacker was allegedly monitoring the company’s e-mail traffic from his home PC in Queens and sending colleagues heads-up messages if they were about to get canned as well. The bosses at SourceMedia must have been puzzled by all the prescient “You can’t fire me, I quit” storm-offs. [NYDN] • And alleged phone-thrower Naomi Campbell is looking for a plea deal but won’t take anything that will require her to do cleanup duty (the court-mandated humiliation du jour for errant celebrities). “It’s not that she’s squeamish,” her lawyer is quoted saying — and trailing off directly afterward. [NYP]
  10. ground-zero watch
    Seek and Ye Just Might FindIt’s only two days since Mayor Bloomberg vowed — for the second time — to devote more attention, time, and manpower to sweeping lower Manhattan for 9/11 debris, including human remains. And today brings a brutal reminder that more than mere conscience-cleaning formality is at stake: Three more victims were identified from remains found at ground zero. The city released the names of two; one of them, miraculously, turned out to be Karen Martin, a flight attendant on American 11 stabbed by the hijackers for putting up resistance. The other, Douglas Stone, was a passenger on that same flight. Their families had submitted DNA samples back in 2001 but hadn’t heard anything in years; their reactions, as told to the Daily News, betray mostly surprise. “This is really nice,” said one relative. “This comes out of the blue,” said another. So why isn’t the Bloomberg administration trumpeting this news as a major forensic success and a large step toward closure — all thanks to our managerial mayor? Because the city appears to have had all the pieces of the puzzle in place for quite some time – the remains and the families’ DNA samples – without bothering to do anything about it. Oh, wait. The Bloombergians are trumpeting it anyway. We’ll spare you the unseemly chest-beating, but read the last paragraph of the News article if you just can’t help yourself. More 9/11 Vics ID’d [NYDN] Earlier: Bloomie Promises a Thorough Search, Again
  11. the morning line
    Remains Remain at Ground Zero • Searchers found at least 18 more human bones in manholes around ground zero on Sunday, bringing the total of human remains found in the past week to 114. The families of victims are, needless to say, not thrilled. [Newsday] • Alan Hevesi’s challenger for state comptroller — you know, the guy who pointed out Hevesi was using a state employee to chauffeur his wife — lied on a mortgage application in 1993. Dems push the story, voters yawn. [NYDN] • At a public hearing tomorrow, the debate over whether to allow a 30-story Norman Foster glass tower on the Upper East Side will likely turn even nastier. Nothing like a little out-of-context architecture to get the neighbors all riled up. [NYP] • Anna Wintour was named editor of the year by Advertising Age, as Vogue is actually growing while rivals are sputtering. [NYP] • Episcopalians in Connecticut are now okay with gay marriages. Worldwide Anglicans soon not to be okay with Connecticut, one presumes. [NYT] • The law firm Milberg Weiss, which has been under indictment for allegedly paying off plaintiffs in more than 150 lawsuits over the years, has managed to attract a new senior partner. Someone will have to run the place if the old partners go to jail. [NYT]
  12. the morning line
    Middle-Class Housing? In New York?! • Mayor Bloomberg announced the city is buying a 24-acre parcel of land in Long Island City on which to build middle-class housing. Jerry Speyer preemptively bids to buy it in 50 years and turn it into luxury condos. [NYS] • Con Ed technicians working at the ground-zero site yesterday discovered human remains and two wallets in an underground junction box that was allegedly searched years ago. Families groups, no doubt, are thrilled. [NYDN] • Now a handwriting expert says Brooke Astor’s signature on the 2004 codicil that bequeathed millions to her son was most likely forged. As if Astor family gatherings weren’t awkward enough lately. [NYT] • A job fair intended for Irish immigrants living illegally in the United States is instead drawing mostly Americans interested in working in Ireland, presumably seeking cheaper Guinness. [NYT] • Jeanine Pirro is trailing Andrew Cuomo by 21 points in attorney-general race, new polls show. Campaign strategists now seeking a scandal that will actually win her sympathy. [NYP] • Alas poor Mets. Sigh. [NYDN, NYP]
  13. ground-zero watch
    Stations of the Cross The bad news at ground zero today: The site has temporarily lost its only existing memorial, an eighteen-foot-tall cross made out of WTC beams. The good news: Officials are moving it because it’s in the way of construction. Repeat: They’re moving it for construction. The cross, which was found fully formed by first responders on September 13, 2001, is a familiar sight. Though multiple parties have argued every detail — from acreage to font size — of the World Trade memorial-to-be, the cross has been quietly serving as the focal point of ground zero. It will now be stowed at St. Peter’s Church, three blocks away, rather than in a JFK hangar, as the always-sensible Port Authority first proposed. The move was executed with all the expected pomp (“God Bless America” performed? Check), but it raises a question: Exactly what construction was the cross getting in the way of? The Times avoids the subject entirely. We’d hazard a guess, considering the cross’s former placement, that it has something to do with the new PATH station. Perhaps they should have moved it a couple of hundred feet west, to the Freedom Tower site. It wouldn’t be in anyone’s way there for quite a while. Brief Journey for an Icon of the Attack on New York [NYT]