News From Terre Haute, Indiana

9/11: 10th Anniversary Coverage

September 9, 2011

Ten years removed, 9/11 attack on NYC remains on minds of many (see VIDEO)


Staying alive

As the church and its neighborhood slowly recovered, one vestige of the catastrophe stood beside St. Peter’s.

A steel beam, still bolted to a sheared-off crossbar, was uncovered in the rubble two days after 9/11. It resembled a cross, and became a source of inspiration for workers searching for victims. In 2006, the “Ground Zero Cross” was placed in front of St. Peter’s wall along Church Street, causing passers-by to often stop for photographs. It remained there until July 23, when it was moved to the new WTC site and lowered by crane into the 9/11 Museum, along with other relics of the damage, such as a fire engine, ambulance, subway car, and a staircase from one of the towers.

The church has commissioned an artist to craft another cross, Madigan said, using metal recovered from old towers, to stand in place of the Ground Zero Cross.

Like the steel cross, businesses that survived suffered wounds.

The pall cast by the attacks pervaded the city in those tense days, weeks and months afterward. Resolute New Yorkers urged each other to keep frequenting restaurants and pubs, even as tourism dipped. Amy Smith and Barry Lewtas visited New York for the first time in December 2001 as 20-year-old tourists from Liverpool, England. Now 30, Smith and Lewtas returned in July to get married. They found an obvious change in atmosphere a decade later.

“Everywhere we went [in 2001], in the windows of restaurants and bars, there were posters saying, ‘Eat out, fight back,’ because I think people were scared and the economy suffered. So everybody was staying home,” Smith said, standing outside the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, catacorner from Ground Zero. “But it seems totally different now. Quite positive, I think.”

The staff of O’Hara’s Restaurant & Pub remembers when “everybody was staying home.” Today, it’s lively, with “a mixed crowd. Just bankers, brokers, construction workers,” said bartender Brian McCabe, while serving two of the latter. “All walks of life come in here. [But] very few construction workers, ’cause we’re a little high-class for that.” He and the two construction workers, sipping a Heineken and a Michelob Ultra, laughed loudly at his quip.

But 10 years ago, the prime source of O’Hara’s clientele — the Twin Towers, where an estimated 50,000 people worked and visited daily — had instantly been reduced to a smoldering, grief-filled abyss. Some regulars no longer had a place to work. Some regulars died on 9/11. “I lost a good 40 to 50 people I knew,” said bartender Brian McCabe.

The 70-year-old Irishman from the Bronx wears eyeglasses low on his nose. His gray hair is short-cropped, and his accent thick. He’s poured drinks, told stories and dispensed advice at O’Hara’s for 40 years. Those following the terrorist strikes were unlike any others. “There was no business here for two years afterward,” McCabe said, folding his arms and leaning on the shiny, dark wood of the bar. “It was terrible.” By 6 o’clock on a Saturday night, in “the city that never sleeps,” O’Hara’s was often empty.

“I don’t know how we stayed in business,” McCabe said.

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9/11: 10th Anniversary Coverage
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