Monday, December 20, 2004
( 8:46 AM ) teahouse
The PATH Train
The PATH train ("PATH" stands for Port Authority Trans Hudson) is a commuter rail line that links New York City to northern New Jersey. Thousands of people who live in Jersey City, Newark and Hoboken commute into Manhattan on the PATH train every morning.
The PATH station at the base of the World Trade Center was destroyed when the towers were attacked on September 11, 2001. A temporary station was reopened in 2003.
This weekend I was at that PATH Station, built among the ruins of the former World Trade Center towers. PATH trains coming into and out of the station circle the perimeter of Ground Zero.
When you're coming in from New Jersey, the dark subway tunnel suddenly gives way to sunlight and a view of this vast wasteland, your first view of lower Manhattan. It's a breathtaking and horrifying sight; a big hole in the ground, chaos rebuilt.
The station is brand-new, open air and affords an entire view of the ruins. Screens hang on the walls, printed with quotes about New York City. Even though it's often crowded with commuters, the station is always eerily quiet.
When I stood on the platform waiting for the train yesterday, I could see a van descending down one of the ramps into the middle of the pit. A cop got out and helped out an elderly couple. The three of them walked out into the middle of the pit, the couple supporting each other, and laid a Christmas wreath on the ground.
The elderly couple and the cop stood there for a few moments, heads bowed in prayer.
When my train pulled out of the station 10 minutes later, headed to New Jersey, I could still see them through the window of the train as we made a wide circle around the ruins. The 3 figures were a dot in the center.
They were walking slowly back toward the van. The woman was leaning on the man for support. He was holding her up. They looked suddenly older.