It is undeniable that New York continues to shake every time it remembers the 9/11 attack and the nearly 3,000 people who perished two decades ago, but the city has also known how to look to the future and rebuild itself almost completely after the terrorist attack that changed the world. .
A few days before the fateful anniversary, the images of the event, now projected on a huge screen just 400 meters from where the Twin Towers were, are too harsh for some viewers.
“I can’t, I’m sorry,” says a New Yorker as she walks away avoiding the rest of the audience, gathered in the gardens of Rockefeller Park to watch one of the chapters of Spike Lee’s new documentary series, “NYC Epicenters: 9 / 11- 2021 1/2 “, which remembers minute by minute what happened that day.
Many of the attendees are visibly affected, covering their faces and lowering their heads every time images of people jumping from the windows of skyscrapers appear, or when the impact of bodies against the ground is heard.
The pain that the memories of that September 11, 2001 still provoke contrast with the reality of an energetic New York that has been reinventing itself year after year and leaving behind the worst moment in its history.
One of the first changes that the city implemented after the attack was the strict security measures, which last two decades later both in the surroundings of Ground Zero and in New York’s means of transport.
The square in which the tribute to the victims is now located is surrounded by police posts, bollards, metal barriers, and, in some areas, signs indicating the prohibition of the presence of pedestrians, an unequivocal sign of the deep concern about the eventuality of another large-scale terrorist attack.
On New York public transportation, the “If you see something, say something” campaign constantly reminds passengers to alert authorities to any abandoned packages or bags.
The phrase was born on September 12, 2001 and was adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) a few months later, and since then it has been a source of anxiety for passersby, who are constantly reminded of the danger of an attack on the city.
For the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, Jeff Schlegelmilch, this is a campaign that has been effective, preventing, for example, a car bomb attack in busy Times Square in 2010.
“Even so, we would be fooling ourselves if we thought that something (like 9/11) cannot happen again,” warns Schlegelmilch.
Even more visible two decades later is, against all odds, the proliferation of skyscrapers despite the fact that such structures turned out to be his Achilles heel.
“The almost universal opinion of commentators and experts was that there would never be another skyscraper, that people would be too afraid to work in them, to live in them. That banks would be afraid to lend money for such projects,” he tells Efe the founder and director of the Skyscraper Museum, Carol Willis.
Nothing could be further from the truth, because as Willis comments, these buildings have multiplied in the Middle East, China and Southeast Asia, and also in the Big Apple.
And not only to house offices, as was the case with most of them in 2001, but also for homes that end up in the hands of the wealthiest.
“Twenty years after 9/11, New York has more super-skyscrapers – defined by our museum as those over 380 meters high – than any city in the world,” Willis emphasizes.
In total, 7 of them exceed 380 meters, and 17 exceed 300.
In the Financial District, where the Twin Towers were, not only the horizon has changed, but also the type of companies that have chosen it to settle.
In 2001, 55% of the tenants in the buildings were finance companies, but today these account for only 30%, according to data from the Wall Street Journal.
In addition, since 2003, 188 buildings have become residences in the southern tip of Manhattan, reveal figures from the real estate agency Property Shark, so the census of the population has doubled since 2000.