A Trip to Battery Park City
Travel Blog • Rob Verger • 01.23.09 | 2:38 PM ET
I live not far from the Hudson’s shore in upper Manhattan, and on Friday last week after US Airways Flight 1549 ditched successfully in the river, I took the subway down to Battery Park City, where the plane had been secured at a pier. It was a sunny but cold day, and I wandered the area. It was quite a scene: the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Katherine Walker and police boats in the Hudson, emergency services equipment and personnel, and parts of the plane’s tail and left wing (seen here, in this picture I took) sticking up out of the water.
The trip downtown reminded me of my first real job out of college, which was as a disaster-relief Americorps volunteer with the American Red Cross. I was based in Seattle, but my first assignment was working at Ground Zero after 9/11 for about three weeks. I wasn’t on the pile of rubble, but instead just next to it, working with many other Red Cross volunteers interviewing residents of Battery Park City who had been displaced by the attacks; we gave them financial assistance to help them get their lives back together. It was a sobering and life-altering experience, and so it felt somewhat bizarre to travel down to the Ground Zero area more than seven years later because of a plane crash. But, of course, that’s where the similarities between the two experiences end: the US Airways plane crash is a story that so many people—including me—have found uplifting, for the obvious reasons that everyone survived, the flight crew was so extraordinary and rescue came so quickly on that cold day.
I went down again on Saturday, hoping to see workers lift the plane from the river. I spent hours in the cold, under gray skies, standing with a crowd of people and photographers behind the police line, some distance from the massive hoisting equipment. I was fascinated by the whole process and felt that there might be something miraculous, phoenix-like and hopeful about seeing them pull the plane intact from the icy river. Perhaps there was something lingering in the back of my head still about 9/11. But it was a brutally cold afternoon, and I gave up after a while and went home. The plane wasn’t raised and placed on the barge until later that night (the New York Times has this slideshow).