Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Photo #10: Remembering September 11, 2001

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St Pauls Church, New York City

Late afternoon sun casts long shadows across the gravestones of St. Paul’s Chapel, New York, while in the background, dust rises from the site of the former twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Located on Church Street between Fulton and Vesey Streets, the Chapel is opposite the east side of the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan. It is the oldest surviving church building in the city, and indeed the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City.

The Chapel survived the Great New York City Fire of 1776 when a quarter of New York City (then the area around Wall Street) burned following the British capture of the city in the American Revolutionary War.

St Paul’s Chapel was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Its status as such was further strengthened after the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, when miraculously the Chapel survived without so much as a broken window.

The Chapel was turned into a makeshift memorial shrine following the September 11 attacks, and served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12 hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counselling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others. Massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists and musicians also tended to their needs.

I spent a several hours at the Chapel over the course of two or three visits, and was intensely moved by the many artefacts, exhibits and audio-video displays that are permanently located inside the building.

The first one when entering is "Healing Hearts and Minds", which consists of a policeman's uniform covered with police and fire fighter patches sent from all over the country, and from around the world. The most visible is the "Thread Project", which consists of several banners, each of a different colour, and woven from different locations from around the globe, hung from the upper level over the pews. There is much to see and reflect on at St Paul’s Chapel, and I highly recommend a visit there during your New York stay.

As you might imagine there are many online resources and sites memorialising the attacks of September 11, 2001. Make your first stop the website of St Paul's Chapel itself, which has a wonderful audio/visual selection of many of the artefacts on view in the Chapel. Another excellent online location is the Make History – National September 11 Memorial and Museum site.

Visit the St Paul’s Chapel website here…

Thanks to Wikipedia for the background information…

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