Folly at NYC Ground Zero

September 18, 2010

In 18th century landscape architecture, a folly is a whimsical, usually ornamental building often in a rather outlandish style set in a garden.  The British were particularly fond of them.

In an earlier post, I remarked on a different sort of folly related to the rebuilding of the WTC site.  Today, the business columnist in the NYTimes, Joe Nocera, has an excellent analysis of the absurdity underlying the Freedom Tower now rising at the site.  All this in a town and country that prides itself on hard-headed economic analysis in the context of the free market.   I wonder how the local Tea Party members will feel if they have to pay more to cross the bridges in order to foot the bill for this folly.

A view of the behemoth rising outside my office window:


BLAST!

January 26, 2010

Photos from by office cubicle – please forgive the windowpane glare.  The building on the left was damaged 0n 9/11, and has been coming down in fits and starts ever since.  The one on the right is the new Freedom Tower, slowly rising to its planned 1776 feet.

Down in front of them is the big pit (below left) where four buildings were planned:  on the left, not in sight, is one rising quickly, pumped up by money from Larry Silverstein, the lucky guy who won the big bid for the lease to the entire WTC site, a few weeks before 9/11.  (He tried to collect double from his insurers, claiming two planes, two towers, two attacks, two payouts! )  Next to this site is a big mud hole where his second tower is supposed to go, but he’s having money problems these days, what with his lawsuit against the insurers being not too successful, and the general state of the real estate market in NYC

A third site of his, also a languishing mud pit, is on the far right of the big pit.  In between is the site of the future PATH terminal, designed by Santiago Calatrav (above right).  It’s under construction now, even as the terminal, such as it is, continues in use by people like me.  When it’s finished, my commute will be shorter by ten minutes or more, just by eliminating the crowds and detours around construction work.

I thought the contractors had gotten rid of all the bedrock in the way, but some is still sticking up too high out of the earth.  The pictures below show a portion of it, drilled with a grid of holes that are, I think, where the dynamite charges are placed.  In the bottom right of the picture on the left below, you can see the heavy steel woven mats that are placed over the charge area to prevent rocks from flying all over the place.

The video below captures the last horn sounded before the blast goes off.  You can see the man at the top of the image wave to indicate it’s time to throw the switch.  Many times, when the switch is thrown, the wires to the charge area flash white like lightning before the sound of the blast is heard, but in this case, they didn’t, I don’t know why.

This is how it looks from floor 31.


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