Monday, November 30, 2009

We get half a subway station back, but somebody owes me a watch -- my latest scorecard in the War on Terror

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No, this isn't the Cortlandt Street station that reopened, or partly reopened, Wednesday. This is the other Cortlandt Street station, on the IRT Broadway local line, beneath the World Trade Center plaza, as it appeared in early October 2001 photos taken by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). It had to be demolished.

by Ken

I had an engagement downtown yesterday afternoon which left me within a stone's throw of City Hall (I didn't throw any stones, though; even though that bum Bloomberg wasn't likely to be on the premises on Sunday, I figure he's authorized the NYPD to use lethal force against such terrorist acts), and that a short uptown hop on the BMT would take me near my favorite used CD and DVD emporium. Imagine my surprise to find posters on the subway platform announcing that the uptown Cortlandt Street station -- one of the stations that once serviced the World Trade Center -- reopened just this past Wednesday!

I got pretty excited -- so much so that even when it dawned on me that I was already north of the WTC site, I contemplated taking a downtown train just so I would be able to return uptown and pass through the reopened station. I didn't, though. I mean, it's just a subway station.

And in any event it's the wrong Cortlandt Street station. There are, or were, two, you see. The one for the IRT Broadway local was actually under the WTC plaza, and it was so badly damaged by wreckage from the 9/11 WTC collapse that it had to be demolished, and a new stretch of track built bypassing it, in order to resume service on the no. 1 line below Chambers Street. What the MTA calls a "shell station" was built, which will someday be built into a real station as part of the new Fulton Street Transit Center, a promised "transit hub" being built, slowly but (we hope) surely in the area. Now the no. 1 train simply traverses a long distance between Chambers and the next stop, Rector Street.

The BMT Cortland Street station is on the eastern periphery of the WTC site wasn't nearly as badly damaged, and was actually reopened as early as September 2002, but was then closed again in 2005 for construction of a new level beneath the station as part of the transit hub project. As Wikipedia explains, "MTA posters and flyers at that time indicated the station would reopen in the spring of 2006, and later by spring of 2007. This 2007 reopening never occurred."

Now at least the uptown side is back in operation. The downtown side, which directly abuts the WTC site, remains closed, and is presumably going to have to wait for some later stage in the transit hub development. There's talk of 2011, but then, there was talk of reopening the whole station in spring 2006, wasn't there?

Final score -- subway station: Still hard to judge at this point. Certainly in the September 2001-to-September 2002 period, terrorists win! After that, the ball has been pretty much in our court, and it's a matter of personal judgment how well our team has been doing. If this transit hub ever actually happens, and it works, that could register solidly in the "us" column.

NOW ABOUT THAT WATCH . . .

Moving on to more important matters, there's the matter of the watch referred to in the head for this post.

As some of you may recall, last fall my company moved from Midtown, where commercial rents were out of control, to the depressed way-downtown area. ("Downtown depressed" = terrorists win, but cheap, or at least cheaper rents, well, I guess that depends whether you're a landlord or a tenant.) Specifically, we moved into the belly of the beast: the building that abuts the New York Stock Exchange, and is under the watch of the NYSE security operation. Which means that in order to enter the building, we must first go through one of the two checkpoints out on Broad Street (badge check and visual inspection of any bags you may be carrying), and then, once inside it's like an airport check-in -- you go through a metal detector and your stuff goes through an X-ray machine. The only thing is, we don't have to take off coats or shoes.

You'd think by now I would have developed a routine for having all my "forbidden" stuff ready on arrival to send through the X-ray machine, but no, each day I reinvent the process of "disassembling" myself, usually dumping keys, watch, change, cell phone, etc, in a pocket of my briefcase, or maybe the bag with my lunch goodies. Then I don't usually rush to reassemble myself, since anytime I happen to leave the building, I have to go through security again to get back in, so why not just leave the keys and watch and change etc. where they are?

I knew that with all this transferring of stuff, it was just a matter of time before something got lost. And sure enough, some weeks ago, as I was preparing to leave for the day, one on which I hadn't "reassembled" myself, I couldn't find my watch anywhere. Really, the only place I could (or can) think it might have gone is out of a briefcase pocket as it was conveyed through the X-ray machine. I had stayed late, though, and by the time I got down to the lobby, none of the daytime security people were still there, and the people I asked whether a watch, "just a cheap Timex," had been found really had no way of knowing what have happened during the day. The first fellow I talked to may also have been put off by my reference to the cheap Timex, as he also had a Timex -- $30, he paid for his. (I didn't tell him, but I think I paid less for mine.) I really didn't know how to explain that I meant nothing judgmental by the "cheap" reference. Heck, I'm cheap. I tried to stress that I liked that watch. (I did. It looked sort of like the one above, but it didn't have the big numbers.)

But no, there was no trace of the watch, and there hasn't been any since. It was a nice watch. I guess I don't have to worry about replacing the battery now. I traded down to a Sharp watch, $10 at my discount store. It's okay. But the way I figure it, somebody in that War on Terror owes me a watch.

Final score -- watch: Terrorists win!
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