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Battery Park City

Battery Park City

I look across the New York Harbor and see the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty stares at me with pride and dignity. There is a cool breeze along the Esplanade, the river path where I learned to walk. The Hudson waves rock the hard cement wall.

I turn back toward the neighborhood. It is calm and peaceful. Sparrows, pigeons, seagull, and kids playing ball yell out to each other. Tall buildings loom over the neighborhood. Restaurants, supermarkets, and small business stores line the streets. Many scents fill the air: the salty water from the harbor, the unberable aroma from the chinese restaurant, the stale bread from the grocery store, flowers from the green grocer. Chairs, tables, and balconies outside create a welcoming feeling. Bicyclists, joggers, roller bladers, and golf carts speed along the sidewalks.

People of all different sorts are here - young children yelling with backpacks alongside their stressed-out moms and dads, old men with grey hair and cigarettes, young women in tanktops, and workers with suits and briefcases. I cross South End Avenue to where kids are playing ball amidst the roaring buses, cars, and squirrels.

There are three small parks on Rector Street: two in the middle of U-turns and one on the side near the West Side Highway. These are the parks where I have scored soccer goals, played catch, and received touhdown passes. The fresh smell of grass lures me over to the field near the highway. Once, my friends and I had a home run derby on that field, and we kept crushing balls out onto the highway. Over the years, I have lost many balls to the highway.

I walk over to the park near the highway and look north. Two pedestrain bridges sit over the West Side Highway a block away with each other and myself, connecting Battery Park City with the rest of the world. After Sepember 11th, the City wanted to build one of those bridges derectly over the field where I play ball. My friends and I protested by going to the community board and writing letters. Now the bridge is farther up the street.

Look at the block behind the second bridge, and Ground Zero stares at you. Ifs presence is looming. Barriers, policemen, and tourists flock around Gound Zero, paying their tributes to those who have died. Flags sway with sorrow in the breeze, reminding me of the day when my school was evacuated and I saw the towers fall. When I was younger, I would stand at the bottom of the WTC trying to see the top.

If you cross back across to the Esplanade and start walking noth along the river, Gound Zero vanishes like children vanish when playing hide and seek. Young men play volleyball, and cruise ships and ferry boats cover the Hudson.

The story was posted on 2004-03-26