Late this afternoon I stood amongst a tightly packed crowd of onlookers at Broadway and John Street, watching from behind a barricade as engineers prepared to remove from the World Trade Center rubble the 500 foot wall that — for many of us — had somehow, over the past two weeks, come to symbolize our city’s struggle to pull through this disaster together. As huge cranes loomed over the twisted structure and wires were attached in preparation for the move, those around me stood mostly in silence, watching sadly, snapping the occasional picture.
None of us wanted to see it go. We have been comforted over the past two weeks by its presence. We have marvelled at its strange beauty, as it rose from the ruins, an intricate lacy network of sheer strength; a stoic remnant that survived the blast and struck us with its splendor in the golden light of sunset, as bright rays glanced off the building behind, glinting between its metal beams and through the great accidental window which was rent through at just the right height. It was an image of alarming beauty, and the serendipity of its perfect composition was significant to us. In the most simple and sentimental way, the evening light shining through that accidental window was for us a ray of hope. Although we all understood that for now it must come down, whispered questions eddied through the crowd as we wondered, would the pieces be saved? Does the Mayor know that we have already begun to see this as our monument? For we have. That mangled and beautiful skelet! on was a monument that spoke more poignantly of New York’s pain and resilience than any artwork we could have devised.