New York 2013

This is a work in progress, made possible by a Joanna Drew Bursary.

New York’s financial district is in Downtown Manhattan. It is surrounded by water on three sides. There’s no way to expand outwards and so the only way is up. The old infrastructure creaks next to the new show off skyscrapers. The streets teem with people all day – office workers, residents, tourists, rich poor, young and old. This is remarkably different to London’s Square Mile where city workers stream in between 6am and 8am leaving the streets deserted until lunch and then again until 5pm. The Square Mile repels outsiders: there is little to come in for if you do not work there – St Paul’s Cathedral perhaps, or Liverpool Street Station. New York’s financial district is part of the rest of the city.

56,000 people live in New York’s financial district. There are dogs everywhere, constant tourists, no public toilets and the streets stink in the summer heat. The people say the city is not what it was before 9/11. Offices are being turned into apartments. Hundreds stand empty. There are several artist residencies using empty buildings. And yet the new World Trade Centre is going up and will be over 100 stories high.  Four other skyscrapers are expected to be complete by 2020. Tourists come to look and to imagine the day the towers fell. Hawkers sell memorial brochures with pictures of falling buildings and people covered in ash.

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