..Lese Dunton..

A Site for Sore Eyes: World Trade Center Looking Good
Photographs by Alex Jagendorf

It was a sunny chilly, late Fall day when I showed up at the construction site for the new World Trade Center. Justine Karp from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey invited me for a tour. I was honored by the opportunity to walk the sacred ground of past and future.

She introduced me to Alex Jagendorf, a photographer from the Washington Square News, the newspaper of New York University, where I happen to have attended, long ago.

We all had to wear hard hats; I do believe it was my first time ever wearing one and it fit just right. The elevator going up made me nervous. As it chugged along, higher and higher, I started to remember that 1) I'm a little bit afraid of heights and 2) oh yeah, they're right in the midst of building it so you're out in the open air. I attempted to appear undaunted but had thoughts of turning back.

Inside this grey steel box of an elevator, a nice big construction worker noticed my uncomfortable face.

"Don't worry," he said. "This is this the safest elevator in the city. I come here every day and it's fine." His kind eyes and warm smile were so reassuring that I believed his words. His name is Duane and he loves his work.

"This is the greatest job. I wouldn't work anywhere else," he said.

Duane is one of 2,000 workers hired to build new life and commerce in the sky, and a peaceful plaza on the ground with waterfalls and trees.

We visited the 20th and the 39th floor on 1 World Trade Center (when completed, it will be 104 floors). I tried to stick close the the center so I could take my mind off the height. Alex the bold photographer ventured right out to the edge to take pictures of the stunning view, with bright light reflecting off the River. I admired his bravery. I tried to look casual and not think about my shaking knees, while we strolled around asking questions of Justine.

Gazing out onto our beautiful city in all directions, I imagined being on the 100th-something floor, like at Cantor Fitzgerald, looking up from your desk and thinking, "What the ...?"

I shook the thought from my mind and focused instead on all the vitality and healing that is already expanding in this wonderful space. A rebirth of hope and work and creativity.

After our high rise exploration, we returned to the sturdy elevator and made our way down to tierra firma.

Justine took us next to see the Reflection Pool, which will have waterfalls all around it. It's part of the 8-acre Memorial Plaza, which will be ready next year in time for the 10th anniversary ceremony on 9/11/11.

It's a brilliant idea for environmental design. Waterfalls have always been the favorite habitat of mystics, artists, and all kinds of folks. People tend to feel relaxed and in a special mood when near them.

As science explains it, falling water creates thousands of negative hydrogen ions by splitting water molecules. Fortunately, human serotonin levels can increase as the result of these waves of negative ions coming from the spray of water. Reactions have been known to include feeling positive about yourself and the world around you.

As we know, with every waterfall must come trees, so a total of 400  "Swamp White Oaks" will be shipped in fresh from New Jersey. This also gets
us closer to Mayor Bloomberg and Bette Midler's fabulous goal of planting one million new trees across the city's five boroughs over the next decade. More healing ahead!

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See all of Alex Jagendorf's photos on www.flickr.com/photos/ajagendorf25.

Here's a 31-second video of how the waterfalls look when they are turned on.