If ever there was a rebirth and a resurrection here at Ground Zero or anywhere else in the city, it has to be the Winter
Garden. This lovely space is technically not part of the Word Trade Center complex and Ground Zero. It is the huge enclosed
atrium like space that was built between two of the World Financial Center buildings across from the World Trade Center complex.
However, when the Towers fell, no such distinction was made. All the crashing debris crossed this demarcation line and landed
on top of this beautiful space slashing the glass roof and crushing everything inside.
The back story of the Winter Garden pre 9/11
It was constructed when the World Financial Center was built with the intent of being a cross roads for traffic from
the WTC, the WFC buildings, and the harbor outside. Via an enclosed bridge on the second floor, known as the North Bridge,
one could stroll over to the WTC area of the Custom's House and the North Tower. On either side of the Winter Garden's lower
level there was access to the different shops and World Financial Center buildings. Through a huge 3 story glass facade, one
could look out on to the harbor and the Hudson River. Go through the revolving doors and you were right there by the water
with all the yachts and sailboats! Inside this glass domed marvel were huge palm trees. Specially planted deep within the
marble flooring, they appeared to grow from it and stretch to touch the glass domed ceiling! From the second level where the
revolving doors gave egress from the North Bridge was a flight of marble stairs. Coffee shops, restaurants, stores were on
This space also morphed into a performance area. A specially rigged stage, with huge canvas backdrops for sound absorption,
was set up regularly in front of the harbor facade. Lights were hung from the roof and speakers placed for optimum sound acoustics.
Folding chairs would be placed within the space between the palm trees and the performances would begin. Always free, funded
by the corporations that inhabited the WFC. Dance, music, singers from other lands, wonderful entertaining diversity.
September 11, 2001
On 9/11/01 all that ended. The glass roof was smashed in. Many of the panes of glass on the front and rear facade were
shattered. The debris and dust from the collapsing Towers filtered in and smothered the palm trees. The marble flooring was
not only covered with the same dust but chunks of this and that landed on it and created cracks and crevices. Anyone seeing
the early photographs could not believe this space was salvageable.
In December of 2001 I wandered into the harbor side area. The Winter Garden was totally surrounded by a plywood fence.
You could smell the putridness rising from the inside. That wet smell of a building exposed to the elements. And perhaps of
the dead palm trees. I cried. All those wonderful memories, gone, just like the Towers. But then I looked up and saw the most
incongruous thing possible. 3 large Christmas wreaths (the ones that were always hung in the harbor side facade) were hung
there and lit! A defiant gesture if there ever was one.