Wednesday, December 13, 2017


         Yes, last Monday a would-be Muslim terrorist from Bangladesh strapped a homemade pipe bomb to his body and blew himself up in a busy corridor under Times Square during rush hour.  Fortunately, only he was seriously injured, and the resulting disruption was temporary.  But it could have been a lot worse, as when another Muslim terrorist drove a truck along a bike path in Lower Manhattan last Halloween, killing eight and injuring twelve others.  Yes, this latest attempt could have been serious, but it wasn’t, and New Yorkers were soon commuting as usual and give no sign of doing otherwise.  Why?  It’s simple:


         We survived 9/11 and the deaths of hundreds, didn’t we?  When I look out my bedroom window when I get up each morning, or look out my kitchen window in the evening, in the distance downtown I see the Freedom Tower on the World Trade Center site, a reminder of that havoc.  At night it shines with lights and is topped by an antenna with a blinking red light, which prompts me to call it the Tower of Light.  Its construction on the site of that havoc and rubble – accomplished only after years of debate and dispute by the squabbling parties involved – is proof of this city’s resilience, its determination to DREAM  DARE  DO, to not be held back by anything, to forge ahead against all obstacles, aware that THE  EYES  OF  THE  WORLD  ARE  UPON  YOU.  Pretentious?  Certainly.  Exceptionalist?  You bet.  Delusional?  Maybe, maybe not.  But that’s New York:  


         It’s an old tradition.  We survived

·      The cholera epidemic of 1832
·      The great fires of 1835 and 1845
·      The draft riots of 1863, when mobs ruled the streets for three days
·      The Great Blizzard of 1888, when the city was paralyzed, buried under tons of snow
·      The financial panics of 1837, 1857, 1873, 1894, 1907, and 1929
·      The Wall Street bombing of 1920 that killed some 30 people
·      Prohibition
·      The Great Depression of the 1930s, with millions out of work
·      Son of Sam, the serial killer who terrorized the city
·      The blackouts of 1965, 1977, 1994, and 2003 (I experienced them all)
·      Screeching subway trains, lurching buses, and an ancient and  crumbling infrastructure (a crisis in progress}
·      Donald Trump in the White House (another crisis in progress)

So come what may – and it probably will -- we will be all right.

1 comment:

  1. Barbara and Victoria posted thoughtful comments, but via email. So, I'll copy them here for posterity:

    Victoria Hallerman:
    An amazing list of things New Yorkers have survived…to which I’d add the 1970’s in general, a decade in which almost everyone I knew was mugged at least once. Arriving from the Midwest in 1969 sharpened all my senses, and my will to survive!

    Barbara Hitchcock:
    Well said cliff. And what a thought provoking list!!

    I would say though we can only hope we survive Donald trump in the White House ...
    only time will tell.