We had only walked a block or two and turned a corner when we walked right by the firehouse of companies Engine 24 and Ladder 5. They were featured on several news programs on TV, you may have seen it. They lost several men. We paid our respects at their memorial, set up outside the firehouse, filled with candles, letters from all over the world and pictures of their fallen brothers. That's something you just don't forget. Random people were stopping by and shaking hands with the men in the garage. And that's me in the left corner of the bottom picture.
Three weeks later, you could still smell it. The smell of burnt. It's the same smell that came out of the rubble of my apartment building after it burned down. And depending on the wind, you could smell it from several blocks away. Of course, everything was blocked off, and there were plenty of cops and military personel around to watch over everything. All the while, there still seemed to be a bit of a somber mood on the city. We were only there for a few hours. Smoke still rose from portions of the rubble as small fires continued to burn.
Since there was still so much activity at the WTC site itself, it was actually easier to see the destruction that surrounded the area. Broken windows in one adjacent highrise and the sharded remains of a nearby building.
There were a handful of shops down near the center where the dust and debris from the collapse continued to hang and cling, as if acting as some kind of memorial or pause in time. We saw a Levi's jeans shop that had been untouched since the attack, with inches of dust literally covering every piece of clothing in the store. The doors must have been wide open when the towers came down. There was also a jewelry store that had its display counters just impaled with a thick covering of dust. The store must have been completely filled with debris because it reached every nook and cranny of the interior of the display cases.
There were windows everywhere on apartments and shops and offices where the dust still stuck to the windows. Some were in the process of being cleaned, something that seemed very wrong at the time.
This was the best vantage point of the actual World Trade Center that we were able to get. The last remaining pieces of steel...
And there was this amazing image, which even managed to make me feel patriotic for a minute or two.
All photos by Sheri Rothermel.