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Archived Weekly Features
This View by Nancy LeMay
Nancy LeMay is a five-time Emmy winning broadcast designer who has worked both in New York and LA, in network and local. She is a teacher and a painter as well. You can reach her through her website, and by email at


My home is New York City and the World Trade Center is a place I loved. Epic,
even overpowering in its’ scale, I always felt free and happy there; I can’t
explain why. The life and death of the place and its’ people coexist now in
the very center of my relationship to my home. This difficult paradox is,
somehow, a feeling I can illustrate through small details, observations from
my March visit:

The E line of the New York City subway has it’s last stop- (or first, if you
will)- at the World Trade Center. The white tiled walls of the station had
been replaced a few years ago and the old mosaic designs that had been there
were taken out. They were replaced by exquisitely rendered new mosaics of
human eyes. Each eye, about the size of my hand, sits in the wall at about 7
feet above the floor, at intervals of about ten feet. Mostly they are placed
singly; in a couple of spots there are two together. They are reminiscent of
Etruscan art: wide and gentle, they look softly at you as you exit the train
and walk down the platform. They are watchful, but sympathetic in their gaze.

This sympathy is helpful, because at the end of their platform are shuttered
steel gates that seal the station off from what everyone has come to call
‘ground zero’. The contrast between these two realities-one lyrical, one
horrible, and hard by one another- continue to resonate for me.

The contrasting realities are just beginning. Exiting the subway at the
Fulton Street stairway I am bathed in a warm flood of sunlight that I know
should not be there. Turn and look across Church Street to a gaping emptiness
of seven square blocks. Look for Border’s bookstore, the people dashing
through the enormous plaza, the commuters coming up from the PATH station,
the folks who just got coffee to take back to the office. They are gone. A
vast square of sky hangs above me. Try not to cry. Fail at this.

In the Spring, tourists filled the nearby streets. A look into their faces
makes this an intimate experience again; we have this grief in common, all of
us. Look up, and notice shreds of paper, audio tape, and crime scene tape
still snagged in the trees nearby. But walk to the Hudson, into Battery Park
City, and in this serene neighborhood the street life is as it always was.
Parents out with kids, dog walkers on the job, rollerbladers rolling. The
Chinese restaurant is there, and the news stand, but round the corner to the
service entrance of the high-rise apartment building and notice the piles of
ruined carpet put out with the rest of the trash. In the window of a candy
store up on Vesey Street, a sheet of paper with the words, neatly printed
using a computer, WE ARE ALL SAFE.

Never have I been more proud to say I’m a New Yorker. A year later, I still
dwell deep within this experience. My memories, vivid and detailed, challenge
me daily to do honor to all who have been lost, and to remain aware of the
large, important and unknowable things that may yet be asked of me- and of
all of us.