WTC Site Proposal:
Streets Separate Sidewalks

Preface: Is this about replacing some buildings that were knocked down? Is it about filling in a hole, a hole in the ground, a hole in the sky, a hole in our hearts, in our pride? Is this a  task of restoration, of stitching up, a repair job?

There is a sixteen acre wound in the city. It is near the bottom of the town, near the harbor, near where they first touched land, the early settlers, the Dutch, in their small boats and wooden shoes. Wobbly they came ashore, but quickly they set to clearing the land and building a fence. A high fence in a wild place for a new town.

That fence kept moving. Because more Dutch came, and then the English, so many that the Hollanders had to hand over the place. Again and again the fence was removed and erected anew. The town couldn't sit still. Sitting still meant freezing to death, or starving, or letting the wild retake the ground. Once you hop out of a boat onto a rock into a new world, it's keep on moving, or perish. Standing still isn't allowed.

They didn't let death gain on them. They had not let Europe push them around. They had set off in tiny vessels, across a seething sea, to make a new beginning. Because they were not soft. They were not made for sitting down. They were driven. They moved to the end of the island. They jumped to the other shore. They kept pressing on. Whether by digging down, or pushing up, they ceaselessly moved. In the process they turned a stockade into a town. And what a town.

An evolving, surging, rushing city is awesome, it is indomitable, it cowers all those around. But it must keep going, there is no stopping, there is never a time when it is finished and it can sit down. Because the world around it and within it never stops changing, the people, the problems, the possibilities are ever new. Those must endlessly be addressed and incorporated. The city must ever again remove the old fences and find novel solutions. If it fails to do so, if it retreats to mere repetition, then it calcifies, then it too becomes subject to the law wherewith nature governs. Everything that flags, everything, can become game for hyenas and a feast for flies.

Yes, even a great city. The world has evolved rats and maggots to lick it clean, and to spur it on. Whatever ceases to be vibrant attracts the gyrating vultures.

They pounced and tore a sixteen acre gash in our side. Because their contempt had overcome their awe. Their presumption had overtaken our audacity. Our lagging imagination had permitted vultures to see our town as grist for their dreams. Civilization's discontents are undying, they can only be outrun.

Where to?

Away from old assumptions, the old habits, the old conventions. Away from the constricting limitations. Moving on has ever demanded the removal of fences.

They built a town with a back door. The harbor opened to the old world. From there they imported their nails, their hammers, their blueprints. They built what they remembered, the old houses along the old streets. In the new land  the settlers unpacked a town that dated back to Jerico. Those blueprints, those streets and sidewalks yet fence us in.

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