February 19, 2007
Return to Lower Manhattan
Not this, but...
Today, my company moved back to lower Manhattan.
We were there for a long time before September 2001. A number of years on Water Street, then the big move to the 103rd Floor of the World Trade Center, where we stayed for seven years.
The building had its faults, but we had our fun there. Hon and I used to play "golf" there--putting a ball around the floor, with the final hole being when we banked the ball into Maureen's office.
The best thing was the view. No building in NY had anything like it. We could see planes on the runway at JFK, Long Island Rail Road trains in Nassau County (no joke), processions of outbound cruise ships at a certain hour on a Friday afternoon.
Then, one day, gone. The building, and many good people, gone.
We found space near Grand Central that had been just freed up by a bankrupt dot.com firm. Then, a year after that, we moved to another place off Park Avenue in the 50s.
It was an attractive building in an upscale neighborhood, but every day I was there I missed downtown. For reasons that are many.
One practical reason is that most of the people I do business with are near downtown. Another is that the commute from Bay Ridge to downtown is 30 minutes each way, as opposed to 50-60 minutes to the east side of midtown.
But there are other reasons. I like the quirkiness of downtown, the dive bars and the small restaurants and the blue collar feel of much of it. The East Side of Midtown was jewelry, Brioni suits, and Belgian chocolates. While there's nothing wrong with those things, I'm more likely to be buying a Bud than a Brioni when work ends this Friday.
The last reason is that downtown Manhattan took a terrible blow five years ago, and I always felt bad that I could not do more personally to help it recover. Well, though things are far better than they were a few years ago, the recovery is not complete and from this point on, I will be downtown, a part of it, hopefully making it a better place.
I like my new building. Its on Water Street, weirdly close to the place we worked 12 years ago. My office, like my old one at the WTC, faces the water and the promised land of Brooklyn. If I look to the left, there's the Brooklyn Bridge, to the right, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
The World Trade Center days won't come back,but we're back home at last, and that makes me immensely happy.