Friday, May 28, 2004


Seeing as how I'm moving to a city that I've spent a total collective maybe 36 hours in, it's not surprising that I own maybe 6 or 7 maps of Manhattan right now. It's amazing how many ineffective maps can be produced of the same area. You'd think they'd start cribbing off of each other or something, that people would realize marking all of the subway entrances the same color, regardless of which line they are is just a bad idea.

In any case, the one thing they all have in common is the small blank square with "World Trade Center Site" written inside of it in tiny script. How did this become the accepted terminology? Not "FORMER world trade center site" or "future memorial site" but simply the name of the former buildings with "site" afterwards, as if it was waiting for something. However, this does make a lot of sense:


1. The place where a structure or group of structures was, is, or is to be located: a good site for the school.

2. The place or setting of something: a historic site; a job site.

3. A website.

Definition 3 nonwithstanding, this usage of site makes some sense. Not an official memorial (which, if it ever goes up, with be almost certainly dissappointing and overwrought). Kind of like driving past where your old house used to be, and pointing to the K-mart that is now there. There's the site of a crime, a gravesite, a historic site-- all three apply easily. What is kind of disturbing, however, is the uncertain temporality of the word. Site implies past, present, and future conditions. The actual destruction was so traumatic that we've chosen to completely remove this square of land from the boundaries of time, like it's the moon or stonehenge or the pyramids. It's immense, too large to comprehend, so instead it's a "site," a detatched locale that is placed on a pedestal.

I think this area needs a de-siting. The new plans proposed now that they've figured out there's not enough money to build everything look very promising in a de-siting sense. They show interesting, but non-monumental, pedestrian parks and plazas. I don't think this city needs a pit going 100 feet into the earth, or a waterfall, or even a 1,776 foot tall skyscraper (symbolically bile-producing in my book). I didn't mean for this bit to turn into a diatribe on antimonumentalism. However, I can't wait until the hole in the skyline stops being a hole.

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