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Journeys of the Questress - WTC
New Path Train Station
Home
The Way it Was - 1
The Way it Was - 2
Sept 19 - When Tomorrow Never Comes
Sept 27 - Oral Interpretation
Oct 5 - A Mile of Tears - Part 1
Oct 5 - A Mile of Tears - Part 2
Oct 5 - A Mile of Tears - Part 3
Oct 11 - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
Oct 28 - Each Day I Search the Rubble
Nov 12 - When Spires Fall
Nov 19 - 911 The Rape of America
Dec 14 - Just A Thought
Dec 18 - A Sense of Place
Feb 2 - Final Pass to the End Zone
March 3 - Sitting on the Edge
March 14- Do You Still Remember
March 20 - Virtual Walk-Through
March 25 - When Will It End - Part 1
March 25 - When Will It End - Part 2
April 1 - Towers of Light
May 14 - View From Above
May 30 - Tunnel At the End of the Light
May 31 - Seventeen Hundred
Aug 9 - From the Margins Erased
Aug 30 - The Train Doesn't Stop There Anymore
Sept 9 - Ceremonies of Light and Dark
Sept 10 - Just An Anniversary
Sept 12 - September Holds Great Promise
Literary Reflections
Rebirth and Resurrection
The Winter Garden Springs To Life
The Winter Garden Springs To Life - con't
Underpass to the Past
Rebuilding Ground Zero
Under Hallowed Ground
Borders
Yahrzeit
What Will Fill the Void?
I Submit a Design
Footprints in the Dust
My Memorial Design Submission
My Memorial Design - Drawings
New Path Train Station
Path Station Tour
May We Never Forget
That Which Surives
War Without End
4th Anniversary
Footprints in the Dust
Void
I Miss 9/11
Time Comes Between Us
A Thousand Cranes
Fear Factor
Love Letters On The Wall
Empty Chairs
Sitting on the Edge of Forever
Walking the Perimeter of Emptiness
A Counting of Days
For Friends Absent But Not Forgotten
Stigmata
The Memory Keeper's Promise
Unbreak My Heart
Standing On The Edge Of Forever
Both Sides Now
A Memory In Time
The Gravity of Loss
The Survivors Rise Up
Flowers Will Bloom
The Fire Within Us
The Sentinel
Stronger Than The Storm
Between the Candle and the Stars
Ghosts
A Journey Through Remembrance
Canticle of Remembrance
Beyond the Crucible of Chaos
Journey Through Remembrance project
What See We Now
Forever In Our Hearts
Keeping the Flame Alive
The Rebuilding of Ground Zero continues
Does Anyone Care Anymore?
Where Is Our Story Teller of Pain
At Memory's Edge
Dust Thou Art and to Dust Thou Shalt Return
7x7x70
Heroes Never Die
The Flame Inside Our Hearts
The Year of the Heroes of 9/11

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Roller Coaster Ride Through Hell

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Flower tucked into mesh fence, subway entry level

The new Path train station opens
 
Daily, thousands of people from NJ travel to lower Manhattan to work, tour, or attend events. The easiest access to this area south of Canal Street had been by a train that went under the Hudson River, connecting NJ with NYC. In 2001, when the towers collapsed, the train station of the Port Authority of NY & NJ's transit system (commonly referred to as PATH) was destroyed, buried beneath tons of rubble.
 
For the last 2 years, access from NJ to lower Manhattan was limited to either taking a ferry from the NJ waterfront, or taking a railroad train into Penn Station in mid-Manhattan and then a subway south.  Even though the number of people now working in the lower Manhattan area had been decimated through the loss of the WTC, there remained a need for easier access if this area were ever to be revitalized. The Port Authority made it a top priority to rebuild the WTC Path station as quickly as possible. In November of 2003 a new train station opened on the site of the one that had been destroyed.
 
Impressions
 
In the 70's the original decades old Trans Hudson Tube station was torn down to build the WTC complex. This station was now totally underground and accessible only by many levels of escalators. The new 2003 station is totally different.
I went down on a weekend to tour it shortly after it opened. From the few photos presented by the media, I really didn't know what to expect, except that it would be close to Ground Zero. What I encountered was, for me, a heart wrenching experience.
 
Exiting the N/R subway line, it was a deja veu experience. The exit to what had been the WTC shopping plaza had been closed up for all this time. Now, once again you could leave the subway and walk right through those entryways. However, that's where all similarity ended. I exited onto a huge plaza whose open walls looked right out on to Ground Zero. The station was a steel shell that had a roof and pillars but no walls. The day was cold and windy and the wind blew unmercifully through this place.
 
This plaza (right beneath street level) was what I will dub, the second level. As I walked around I noticed the walls (there were walls on the Broadway side from the original foundation of the WTC complex) had huge black and white prints of lower Manhattan. It was a history of the architecture and construction of that area. And nowhere, yes nowhere, could I find any history of the Towers' construction! How sad. They defined this area for over almost three decades and didn't merit even one panel.
 
The next eerie thing I noticed was the entrance to the E train. It as the original one, floor, doors and all. And on one of the pillars was a plaque stating that fact. Shivers ran down my spine.

As I moved on I saw that the open spaces facing Ground Zero had protective netting stretched across them from pillar to pillar. On that netting were written sayings and quotes from famous people (and infamous mayors!) about NYC. The lower half had wire fencing (about the height of a person). On a few of these were tucked flowers! That was when it became evident to me that many of the people who had come to the station were more interested in the close up view of Ground Zero, than in taking the Path train! People were everywhere, pressing against the fencing, taking photos, someone was crying.
 
I then proceeded to descend the huge bank of escalators. As I was carried many feet lower to bedrock, I had flashbacks to when I used to commute and take the same descending escalators. Same number going down and up, same depth of descent. And the same "third level" area where you got off and walked a number of feet before taking the stairs to the turnstile level where you paid your fare. And shockingly, at the bottom of those stairs, on the fourth level was a Hudson News stand, exactly where it had been pre 9/11!
 
Walking around the turnstile area, I noticed it too was all open and the sides were draped with those nettings that had quotes on them. One was just too ironic: "As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not a match in any other country in the world," Pearl Buck. The view that you could see right through it was Ground Zero's bareness. Indeed, no where else in the world is there a match for NYC's "Ground Zero."
 
Traversing Ground Zero
 
Now came the part of my "tour" that was to be truly heart wrenching. I decided to take a train to NJ's Exchange Place station, the next on the Path line, and then return. The train platform area once again had that familiar yet different look and feel to it. Where the destroyed one was dark, always warm, in this one the sun shone through and the wind blasted its cold air. This was also bedrock level, truly Ground Zero. And the pillars each had the old plaques reading "WTC." I shivered from more than the wind. I was on sacred ground.
 
The trip to Exchange place, going under the Hudson River, was uneventful. I exited the train and took the next one back. Going in to the first car, I wanted the best seat for a show I knew should not be missed.
 
A brief bit of explanation is required. The trains exit the WTC area straight into the Hudson tunnel. However, because the trains use 2 tunnels to traverse under the Hudson, the returning one comes out at a different location and makes a loop around what is now Ground Zero. (It was that way ever since the "Tubes" had been built: one out, one in, loop around to the station on the return trip). So on the return I was expecting the closest view of Ground Zero that anyone could get.
When the train exited the tunnel, daylight slammed into my eyes. I blinked and then noticed the slurry wall. Right outside the train window. And as we curved around, tilting, chugging, into the station, I realized we had just ridden over the footprint of the South Tower.  At that moment I felt like I had taken a roller coaster ride through hell.

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Slurry wall viewed from incoming Path train

After exiting the train, I ascended back up to the fourth level and looked more carefully out to Ground Zero. Yes, the station itself was straddling the footprint of the North Tower. And the train, had indeed, crossed over the South Tower's footprint. How horrible, that none of us can ever physically walk on that sacred ground (except for the families and loved ones of the dead and missing, and then they were allowed there only during the anniversary ceremonies) and yet a train can rumble over it.
 
The WTC Path station is only a temporary structure. Plans have been drawn up for a large transportation hub connecting it and a multitude of subway lines together in one large edifice. But will the trains continue to rumble over sacred ground? Will they be traveling under the planned Ground Zero memorial shaking the earth beneath it daily? Sadly to say, I don't know. And I wonder if anyone in charge of the rebuilding of this area really cares.
                       (c) 2004 Leona M Seufert

Port Authority website with information on the Path Train system