IT’S BEEN 10 YEARS. A SPECIAL 9/11 TRIBUTE 4 THE FLAT-TOPPED BEHEMOTHS:
The Architectural Significance of the Twin Towers
Memories of 9/11 from the NYU Community
14 GROUND ZERO RISING A Photo Essay
24 BLOOMBERG vs. GIULIANI A Decade Defined by Two Mayors
26 TOO SOON
9/11 and the Silver Screen
27 THE GLOBETROTTER Remembering 9/11 Around the World
Brownstone Editor-in-Chief JAYWON ERIC CHOE Managing Editor
KELSEY DESIDERIO Executive Editor
JAKE FLANANGIN Art Director
FRANCIS POON CONTRIBUTORS CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
CRISTINA CORVINO MACKENZIE GAVEL JORDIN ROCCHI KRISTINA RODULFO EMILY VIEMEISTER CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
TORRIE FOX FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT
advising editorial adviser
About WSN: Washington Square News (ISSN 15499389) is the student newspaper of New York University. WSN is published Monday through Thursday during NYUâ€™s academic year, except for university holidays, vacations and exam periods. Corrections: WSN is committed to accurate reporting. When we make errors, we do our best to correct them as quickly as possible. If you believe we have erred, contact managing editor Kelsey Desiderio at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 212.998.4302.
Welcome A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
utting together the inaugural issue of Brownstone has certainly been a wakeup call for the staffers at The Washington Square News. Especially for me, following a lazy summer of travel and leisure, jumping back into the proverbial maelstrom of deadlines, edits and photo shoots was bracing, to put it delicately. Not to mention, this particular issue is not only our first, but also a cover-to-cover tribute to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Needless to say, the bar was set high. Nevertheless, working on this issue with our newly formed team of contributing editors and production designers has been a pleasure. Even more, it was touching to see the staff come together to pay respects to an event that has undeniably defined our generation. Although most of us were quite young when the events of 9/11 transpired, they have greatly shaped the state of affairs we have grown up with. Whether you’re from Pennsylvania or Dubai, 16 or 61, 9/11 is day that affected you. It’s an event we can all discuss or reflect upon, regardless of proximity. In this issue, you’ll find stimulating analyses of the architectural significance of the Twin Towers and the ethics behind film fictionalizations of the day. You’ll read an intriguing set of profiles of five individuals connected to the NYU community, who, in some way or another, were personally affected by the events of that day. Lastly, you can appreciate the work of contributing photographer, Torrie Fox, in a beautiful photographic essay called “Ground Zero Rising.” While we’ll have many fun and interesting issues this semester and beyond, this will undoubtedly be our most important. Like I said, the events surrounding 9/11 and the memories we retain from that day are transcendental. We can all relate, and even if we can’t remember, we all feel something. This issue is dedicated not only to the day in particular, but that very sentiment that connects us all: students, New Yorkers and citizens of a greater world.
— Jake Flanagin, Executive Editor
The Flat-Topped Behemoths The Architectural Significance of the Twin Towers
BY EMILY VIEMEISTER
urn to a New Yorker and ask what their favorite spot in Manhattan is. Whether it’s standing on a rooftop, underneath the Brooklyn Bridge or riding the Staten Island Ferry on a clear day, many of us will say our favorite place on the island is not actually in Manhattan at all, but just on the edge of it. It doesn’t come out of a need to escape, but out of the need to look in and see our beloved city as a whole. It is on the edge of Manhattan that New Yorkers rediscover their reason for migrating here in the first place, the city of symbols and hope that inspired them. It is from here that they get to see the impossible, almost unbearable grandness of it all. It is from here that they can see the famed New York City skyline. It was fewer than 40 years ago that a completed World Trade Center first appeared on that horizon. Today marks the 10th year it and its counterpart have been missing from it. Considering the adoption of the Twin Towers as a treasured symbol for the resilience of New Yorkers, it is hard for us to believe that when they first appeared on the tip of Manhattan, they were not well received. Perhaps it is so hard to believe, because now all we think about is how badly we want them back. Dr. Carol Krinsky, professor of art history and director of undergraduate studies at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts, lives in this city and has witnessed much of the evolution of its skyline. When I asked her what her reaction was when she first heard of the World Trade Center, she told me that I’m asking the wrong question. “It took a long time to build,” Krinsky said. “The citizens of New York didn’t fully understand what the point was. The point, as it turns out, was the rehabilitation of the Financial District.” The concept of the World Trade Center grew in the 1950s, not out of the need to make New York a center of world trade, but out of the need to revamp a rapidly disappearing Wall Street. In the years following World War II, office buildings were moving out of lower Manhattan. Midtown was the new place to be. Grand Central offered an easier commute, and downtown office buildings were dated and in need of repair. They lacked the modern conveniences of the giant, metal boxes that were springing up in Midtown, and the new and exciting attitude they brought to the city. They had the appeal of air conditioning, floor space and sleek designs. The incentive to travel to Wall Street
was beginning to dwindle and the area was in danger of becoming obsolete. It was David Rockefeller, William Zeckendorf and Robert Moses who came up with an idea to bring the people of New York back downtown. In 1959 that idea was officially given a name, a name to signify the power and importance they wanted to bring back to Wall Street. It would be called the World Trade Center. The design, from the beginning, was spattered with criticism. The Port Authority’s control over the project meant the voices of New York taxpayers went unheard. New Jersey now had a say in what was being built in New York City. The citizens of New York were livid. “They wanted voter control,” Krinsky said, “and they didn’t have it.” The situation exploded when Radio Row merchants, owners of radio and electronic equipment stores located on Cortlandt Street realized they were being kicked out to make way for the new structures. The fight between small business and big finance went all the way to the Supreme Court. As we all know, Radio Row was no victor. “The city needed development,” Krinsky said. “It needed tax revenue. It needed jobs in the construction industry. Cities cannot stagnate. They cannot simply be preserved.” Still, New Yorkers would deplore that an entire business community was being systematically destroyed. Landmarks were being bulldozed, history was being scorned. Krinsky, however, sees a greater picture of the city that most find hard to grasp. “Radio Row might have been rendered obsolete anyway with the invention of all the gadgets we use today,” she said. “Honestly, they probably couldn’t have survived the change in technology. We lose the things that we love. The aim is to build something even better, not just to build something new.” I asked if the World Trade Center was categorically better. “It partly did what it was supposed to do,” Krinsky said reluctantly, “but it was artificial, it was not a pair of buildings that anybody needed or that made a difference.” Today, most of us may look back on the towers and imagine a symbol of strength. When we draw a sketch of the city, we make sure to draw four buildings: the Empire State, the Chrystler buildings and the Twin Towers. No other buildings were so identifiable. We think of the towers, and we are filled with nostalgic emotion, and maybe even
patriotism. But during their construction, the collective sentiment of New Yorkers couldn’t have been more different. The World Trade Center, under architect Minoru Yamasaki, was meant to, literally, break the skyline. At 110-stories, the Towers would be the tallest buildings in the world, until the completion of the Sears Tower in Chicago in 1973. The basic concept: a simple box. “In those days,” Krinsky said, “a simple geometric box was considered aesthetically progressive, partly because people had tired visually of the setback skyscrapers. If you build a pure prism, that sounded cleansed of 1920s clichés. Things that were sleek and pure and uninterrupted seemed to be current.” But Yamasaki’s “geometric boxes” did not go over well with Manhattanites. “The Mountain comes to Manhattan,” The New York Times write. “Gargantua-bythe-sea,” Architectural Forum called it. Or as architecture critic and NYU alumnus Ada Louise Huxtable so gracefully described them, “The Flat-Topped Behemoths.” “Most people I know didn’t like it,” Krinsky remembered. “The visual aspect. It was too empty, and the buildings seemed too trivial. They didn’t have the strength that big buildings ought to have.” The feeling was certainly not unique. “His choice of delicate detail on massive construction as a means of reconciling modern structural scale to the human scale of the viewer is often more disturbing than reassuring,” said Huxtable of Yamasaki in a 1966 New York Times article. Yamasaki’s design intricacies, meant to offset the brutal silhouette of his structures, instead created a dissonance that architects found unsettling. Still, despite all complaints, the Trade Center was completed in 1971. As New Yorkers stood on the edge of Manhattan, in
their favorite spot to look in on their city, they saw a skyline disrupted. Disrupted by two flat-topped behemoths. Then, 28 years later, the behemoths stood no more. “I wasn’t in New York at the time and I’m glad I wasn’t,” Krinsky said, “For me the tragedy was one step removed because I wasn’t here.” Her husband, however, was. “He was interested in all kinds of transit,” Krinsky explained. “Airplanes, trains, cars, that sort of thing. He was voting that morning, and when he came out he heard an airplane in the wrong place.” After listening to the radio, he learned that, in fact he was right. The first plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. “I was in Louisville,” Krinsky recalled, “and my students in Louisville did a strange thing when they heard what happened, something I was not used to in New York. They prayed. Then they lined up to give blood and of course blood
wasn’t needed because people were just dead.” For Krinsky, and for New York, it was not about the buildings. It was about the people in the buildings. “When people tried to describe the images, I tried not to look. I would not look at those images,” she said, trembling slightly at the recollection. In 1966, Huxtable made a comment that would resonate through the decades. “The gamble of triumph or tragedy at this scale—and ultimatelym it is a gamble—demands an extraordinary payoff,” she said. “The Trade Center towers could be the start of a new skyscraper age or the biggest tombstones in the world.” I can only imagine how chilled Huxtable must be at such a premonitory comment. Now, on the tenth anniversary of that infamous day, we sit in our favorite spot on the edge of our city, contemplating the gap that stood as a decade-long reminder of tragedy.
But today, something is rising in their place What does Krinsky think of the plans for One World Trade Center, formally known as the Freedom Tower, designed by Daniel Libeskind? “It’s alright,” she said, smirking. After some prodding she revealed her reasoning. “I’m not drawn to buildings that are labeled to tell you what to think.” Libeskind’s romantic design is meant to grab onto that symbolism of the city that many of us love. It is a way of honoring the buildings that stood before it. But for Krinsky, it is not about honoring the buildings. It is about honoring the people. “When I see an office building I do not think of freedom,” she said, pragmatically. “I think of commerce.” What would she put there instead? “At the moment,” she said, “there is no immediate need to re-build. But in the meantime we should honor the dead with a beautiful memorial garden where we may meditate, remember.”
Perspec Memories of 9/11 From the NYU Community
BY Jordin Rocchi
ctives People, in my experience, tend to remember their firsts. Their first time driving a
car or their first time living away from home tend to result from months, or even years, of work – whether it be studying for the state driver’s test or the SATs. We look back on these stories with an affection that takes care to put all of the details in the right place, and sometimes we embellish a little here and there. But how do we remember our first exposure to something negative? To national tragedy? To racism? To physical peril? The attacks on Sept. 11 were a first for many – the first time many of us wondered exactly how safe it was to live in the most powerful country on Earth. I sat down with several memorable individuals to hear their stories of that day — stories that, although they may be painful to recall, are vividly unforgettable a decade later. If these perspectives are any indication, the memories of the 9/11 attacks are almost as fresh in the mind today as they were on Sept. 12 2001. Even though that day was among the most tragic moments in history, it was nevertheless a pivotal “first” for many. Now, ten years later, the opportunity has presented to us to reflect on it, dust off the old stories and simply remember.
ED LEHMAN and BUNNIE LEHMAN Ed Lehman remembers an old party line from college retreats — a response to the prompt of what you would do with the knowledge that you would die in the next hour: “Do what you are doing now.” That is, in essence, how he explains his immediate response to news of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Ed was and still is an adjunct professor of sociology at NYU. His wife Bunnie was a professor at Barnard and now teaches alongside her husband. Like many New Yorkers, the Lehmans heard the sounds of the attacks without understanding the magnitude of the event. The low-flying plane Ed heard while working away in his office, he believed, was no cause for concern. Bunnie, after hearing a loud crash, assumed it was related to the construction of the Kimmel Center nearby.
“I looked out [the window], and all the workers were looking south,” Bunnie recalled. “But I assumed they were looking down.” Even after walking into his first class and being told by a weeping student that a plane had just flown into the first tower, Ed proceeded with his planned lecture. “I thought, well, this is the end of something,” he said. “I’ll just do what I’m doing now.” After living and teaching in New York City for more than 45 years, Bunnie and Ed can think of the assassination of John F. Kennedy as the only comparable event to the 9/11 attacks – the only other day they can recall which emptied office buildings and shocked one of the world’s busiest cities into silence. “We’ll never forget,” Ed said bluntly. “Obviously, we’ll never forget.”
SAHAR SALEEM Sahar Saleem has lived in Dubai, Oman, California and New York, all in a single decade. Having attended a number of international schools, ethnic diversity was commonplace for Saleem, and in that sense, she never felt different from her fellow students. That changed, however, in 2001, when Saleem had her first clash with unabashed prejudice. “I had run into a boy [while playing basketball],” she recalled, “and he said something about being a ‘stupid terrorist.’ I was in shock. I started crying immediately.” Although she was hesitant at first to identify the remark as racist, Saleem ultimately concluded that there was no other word for it. “When people joke about [Islam] or use the word ‘terrorist’ towards me, it feels like the N-word,” she said. “Some people don’t understand how offensive that is or how much that can hurt.” While the sting of that first encounter was still
fresh, Saleem described how 9/11 transformed the issue of Islamophobia into something that all Muslims must reconcile with. What concerned her most was a collective inability among some Americans to distinguish between moderate and extremist Islam. The latter, she believed, was “the root of terrorism” and the practice of uneducated Muslims. With a grandmother who runs a secular school, in between a madrasa and a convent, it was clear to Saleem that tolerance promoted through education is a necessity. In that regard, she continues her Quaranic and university education so that she is better able to explain her beliefs in a broader context. She says to her fellow students to cultivate their inquisitive minds; “If you’re curious, you should ask questions — I want to understand [the Quran] so I can explain it to people,” she said.
NEIL GUNTEKUNST Neil Guntekunst can’t decide how often he thinks about 9/11. The images, he notes, are clear in his head, but he decides he doesn’t think about it that often. Then, he changes his mind. He settles on the fact that if he isn’t reminded of the attacks in some way every day, he is reminded of them at least every other day. This is not surprising, considering the nature of Gutekunst’s relationship with that day. Just a 21-year-old senior at NYU, he was evacuated from his Broome Street residence hall and transplanted to a location on 57th Street in the days following the attacks. Unlike some of his classmates, Gutekunst stayed in New York, bearing witness to the insanity and frenetic energy of that day and those succeeding it. “There was a car that had all four of its doors
open, with the radio blasting news,” he recalled. “There were fifteen or twenty people just standing around this car, craving more news.” People walking uptown covered in dust and soot and fire engines racing in the opposite direction were among some of the more shocking images he remembers. Nevertheless, they were eclipsed by the steadfast sense of security he felt in an abruptly changed, post-9/11 world. “There were people out there who were watching over me, and not in the metaphysical sense,” he said. His decision to join the United States Marine Corps was, in part, motivated by the events of 9/11 and those who “watched out” for him. He resolutely articulates only one emotion, in response to his time in Manhattan following the attacks: “I felt safe.”
JOHN SKARI “To tell you the truth, it’s a testament to the resilience of the university and its students – we got right back to it.” Those were the first words out of John Skari’s mouth as he reflected on his memories of Sept. 11 as an NYU student. He remembers classes being canceled for a while and a few of the memorial services, but more than anything he recalls a certain collective sentiment among all New Yorkers, student or otherwise. “It was there,” he said. “It was a present feeling.” Skari was starting his sophomore year in September 2001. That day, he was evacuated from his dormitory and got on one of the first buses out of New York for his family home in Pennsylvania.
Even with his sudden departure from Manhattan, the possibility of leaving the city forever didn’t cross his mind, even at the protests of his mother, who he recalls was quite apprehensive at his decision to return. His outlook couldn’t have been more different. “If you were going to be scared [in New York], you were going to be scared of something like [9/11],” he said. “And it already happened.” Though it has been a decade since the attacks on the World Trade Center, Skari feels relatively unchanged in his convictions about the events of that day. Instead of dwelling on the fear and hysteria of that day, to him, the anniversary presents a more important opportunity: “just a time to remember.”
Ground Zero Rising IMAGES BY TORRIE FOX
Bloomberg vs. Giuliani A DECADE DEFINED BY TWO MAYORS BY CRISTINA CORVINO In 2001, when the people of New York City were shocked and shaken by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, many turned to then Mayor Rudy Giuliani who took on the role of a strong and determined leader. Ten years later, current mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to help pick up the pieces left behind from that infamous day. While Giuliani and Bloomberg may have their differences, many will agree that both of their efforts were instrumental in mending a wounded city in the wake of tragedy.
POLITICAL STANCE Liberal
While Giuliani has been a lifelong member of the Republican Party, Bloomberg has changed parties twice, leaving the Democratic Party for the Republican in 2001— roughly one year before becoming mayor of New York City. Then he abandoned both in 2007 in favor of non-partisanship.
Presidential Candidacy POTENTIAL CANDIDATE
NOT A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE
Giuliani campaigned for GOP candidacy during the 2008 presidential election. Despite much speculation, in a Dec. 2010 episode of “Meet the Press,” Bloomberg stated, “I’m not going to run for president.”
MAYORAL EXTENSION AGAINST
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Giuliani wanted to see New York City and its people through the initial shock. As a 2007 New York Times article explains, when Giuliani attempted to extend his mayoral term, Bloomberg did not protest. Even so, the extension ultimately did not happen. Seven years later, Bloomberg successfully amended New York’s term limit law and in 2009 was elected mayor for a third time.
ISLAMIC CENTER AGAINST
The Huffington Post reported that Bloomberg fully supports the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. While visiting “The Today Show,” Giuliani expressed concern, asserting that the center would cause, “more division, more anger, more hatred.”
9/11 HEALTH BILL AGAINST
Both Bloomberg and Giuliani were in favor of the Zadroga Bill— penned to monetarily benefit harmed Ground Zero workers. According to a New York Post article, Giuliani called the Republican vote against the bill “a very big mistake,” and CNN quoted a similar sentiment expressed by Bloomberg, who called the vote “a tragic example of partisan politics trumping patriotism.”
9/11 MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR LIMITING CLERGY
AGAINST LIMITING CLERGY
The Huffington Post has been one of many news sources to report that Mayor Bloomberg has decided not to invite clergy to the Sept. 11 memorial — he said that inviting everyone who wishes to attend is just not a feasible option. On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal reported that while Mayor Giuliani respects Bloomberg’s decision, he himself would choose to include clergy in the memorial.
TOO SOON 9/11 and the Silver Screen BY Kristina Rodulfo ivid footage replaying the collapse of the Twin Towers, the sounds of ambulances wailing and the muffled final phone calls return to television screens across the world each and every September. Just as we revisit the haunting images that affirm the tragedy’s reality, we call to mind a decade’s worth of 9/11 in the media and question whether a right time for its fictionalization on the silver screen exists or will ever exist. Films like Paul Greengrass’ 2006 drama “United 93” receive the brunt of our scrutiny. Greegrass’ drama chronicles the events that occurred on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township, Pa., on Sept. 11. That year also saw the release of the film “World Trade Center,” a story of two police officers pinned under World Trade Center debris following the attacks. Audiences approached these films with clear apprehension. According to The New York Times, United 93’s trailer was pulled from a Manhattan AMC Loews Theater after upset viewers deemed it inappropriate. Apparently, the movie’s plot felt premature in their depictions of events happening merely five years before. 9/11 appears in film as soon as 2002, when Spike Lee directed “25th Hour,” which explicitly takes place in a post-9/11 New York City. Similarly, 2007 flick “Reign Over Me,” directed by Mike Binder, follows the life of a man (played by Adam Sandler) after losing his family on Sept. 11. As recently as 2010, Robert Pattinson starred in Allan Coulter’s “Remember Me,” a movie that caught viewers off guard with its tragic ending connected to the towers’ collapse. Even sunnier films have incorporated 9/11 into their storylines. “Julie & Julia” depicted protagonist Julie Powell working at a lower Manhattan development corporation’s call center where she fields telephone calls from 9/11 victims and their loved ones. These four feature films use Sept. 11 as a frame for narrative. They provide a setting, rather than a plot. “United 93” and “World Trade Center,” however, nearly function
“United 93” via imdb.com
like documentaries, ultimately aiming to relay the truths of the events that occurred during the aftermath of the attacks. To some, both distinctions come off as a crass ploy to profit from tragedy. Some of the 9/11 movies did fairly well in the box office, with “United 93” grossing $31.4 million and “World Trade Center” earning $70.2 million in the U.S., according to IMDB. Although the relative successes might translate to the macabre usage of tragedy, some viewers still recognize the films’ function as rightful tributes. It’s clear the greater issue regarding film portrayals of 9/11 isn’t whether America feels ready to accept it as a vehicle for entertainment, but rather what emotiona tolls the films may take on a country still grieving, a decade later. Ten years after the events of Sept. 11 took place, emotions are still raw and our generation’s recollection of events feels too present to be memorialized in cinema. Watching a movie based on Sept. 11 is no longer shocking, but the implications are clear and visible. It is likely to be several generations before a great filmmaker can hearken back to 9/11 without causing resentment in viewers for whom the portrayal is too soon. In the meantime, what rings true in this growing genre is the inescapability of 9/11, no matter the intention of the filmmaker. After all, in telling any modern New York story, the weight of 9/11 will always remain.
Remembering 9/11 Around the World
young in 2001, and like us, had a hard time understanding the magnitude of the tragedy. But at 18 years old, Ozgü Ozyigit, a master’s student from Cyprus, knew immediately the attacks were no accident. “I was walking home and stopped in a market and saw on the television what had happened to America,” he said. “I was in complete shock. There were so many speculations Sept. 11, 2001 will forever be remembered as the day that about what may or may not have happened, but I knew it robbed many Americans of their high spirits and sense of was terrorists.” safety. Ten years later, the memories of a city blackened Briony Curzon and Bekki Gorman, both in their fourth with heartbreak, loss and disbelief, are year at Liverpool Hope University in hardly forgotten. England, had similar reactions. Especially for NYU students, the wounds “The whole experience was very strange are fresh. We have a unique and personal at the time. There was a lot of worry relationship with this tragedy. Students amongst the teachers and everyone seemed at other schools around the country are to be generally panicked,” Curzon said. not surrounded by daily reminders of that “I don’t think I could ever forget about day as we are. It might be easy, then, to that day. Too many people lost their disregard the perceptions of outsiders – lives,” Gorman added. “It’s also rather people so geographically far removed from hard to forget with a War on Terror being Ground Zero for whom the attacks were fought by men and women all over the less personal. Yet this is far from true. world, not just America.” Hazel Blake was ten years old on Sept. Murat Erbil, a law student from Ankara, 11, 2001. As a middle school student living Turkey, said that despite the fact that in London, England, she was browsing the he was not personally connected to the shelves of a candy store when she noticed events of 9/11, he could relate to the the news reports on a television screen. At sensation of widespread apprehension first, she thought it was a movie. and civil unrest. — Hazel Black, “I was rather blasé,” she said. “I didn’t “I live in Turkey, where for the past 20 or University of Keat believe that sort of thing could actually 30 years, people have been trying to split happen. When I realized it was the news our country in two,” he said. “Of course and not a film, I think I was too young to understand the I think that a tragedy like 9/11 could happen in my own full repercussions.” community, but it won’t stop me from living my life.” Now in her third year at the University of Kent, Blake Overall, global sentiment seems to generally agree with applied a uniquely British mentality to coming to terms the American concept of pulling yourself up by your with tragedy. bootstraps. While we cannot forget the tragedies of 9/11, “London has this ‘keep on, carry on,’ attitude,” she said. it’s essential to move on and continue making the world a “I don’t think anyone will ever forget bad things happen, better place. Hopefully, a little good comes out of great loss but we have to learn to adapt.” in that at least, in the wake of tragedy, the world has been International students studying at universities were quite brought a little closer together. Bridgette Doran is the foreign correspondent for Brownstone. As she spends a year studying in Amsterdam, she will write columns with a global perspective. In her first column, Bridgette interviewed several students from different countries about their memories and interpretations of the events that occurred on Sept. 11.
“I don’t think anyone will ever forget bad things happen, but we have to learn to adapt.”
The inaugural issue of Brownstone pays tribute to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.