Friday, September 11, 2009

At St. Paul's Chapel, remembering 9/11

Last fall, on a walking tour of Lower Manhattan, I stopped inside St. Paul's Chapel, on Broadway. From the churchyard, you can see the construction cranes on the spot where the World Trade Center once stood.

But what's inside the small church is what really got to me. And if you visit New York City and want to understand in a small way the toll of Sept. 11, 2001, this is a beautiful little place to remember and say a prayer.

The chapel, completed in 1766, is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use and its only remaining colonial church. It's the place where George Washington worshiped on his inauguration day, April 30, 1789, and you can see Washington's pew.

In the aftermath of the terror attacks, the chapel served as a place of refuge and recovery for those involved in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center site. For eight months, volunteers worked 12-hour shifts around the clock, preparing meals, making beds and offering comfort.

Today, if you walk around the chapel, you can see photos and other mementos of those who lost their lives in the attacks, a huge banner sent to New York City from the people of Oklahoma and something that I found incredibly moving - a pile of teddy bears left for rescue workers.


Bob said...

What a lovely tribute post, Esther.

Esther said...

Thanks, Bob. You're sweet. I would never have gone there if SarahB hadn't e-mailed me her very excellent Lower Manhattan tour. It's a little off the beaten tourist track but well worth a visit. And the teddy bears will make you cry.

Pam said...

I've been to NYC numerous times and never walked around lower Manhattan. I have driven past the site of the World Trade Center, but never walked there. I'm sure it is very powerful. I will add this to my things to do next time I'm in NYC. Thanks, Esther.

Esther said...

Hey Pam, thanks for the comment. If you click on the St. Paul's Chapel label, you can read more about my walking tour of Lower Manhattan. Lots of fascinating stuff to see. I walked down Wall Street, then up Broadway, to Chinatown and Little Italy and ended at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which is another fascinating place to visit. And New York is such a terrific city for walking.

Unknown said...

In January 2001 we walked around the Twin Towers and visited St. Paul's Chapel with our eight years old daughter. Nine months later we sat in total shock in front of the television. In September 2008 we went back. And we were so moved by the stories, the teddybears, the hope.
The Netherlands

Esther said...

Hi Marja, welcome and thank-you for your comment.

The chapel is such a moving place to visit, a place of much sadness but as you said, also a place of hope. I'm glad you and your family were able to pay a return visit to New York. It's such a wonderful city. I don't live there but I try to visit as often as I can.

Btw, I've been to Amsterdam, which is also a great city with terrific museums.