The tenth anniversary of 9/11 was a relatively quiet one, from what I saw. Starting off at St. Paul's Chapel, in lower Manhattan, I met up with my friend and fellow photographer Brenna around 11am. We saw a group of protestors holding signs and wearing T-shirts that said "The Bush Regime Engineered 9-11" and "9/11 Was An Inside Job". They were standing across the street from the Chapel, where visitors came to tie a ribbon and pay their respects to the victims of 9/11. The entire area around City Hall and Ground Zero was cordoned off and under heavy security. Apart from some heated exchanges, the inside-jobbers were allowed to stage their protest.
After St. Paul's Chapel, we visited the Madina Masjid, a mosque in the East Village, which is overseen by Imam Hafiz Choudhury. Imam Choudhury has been at the Masjid for thirty-five years. He and his fourteen-year-old son Ahsan showed us around. My colleague Brenna, an Irish-American woman, was allowed access to all areas of the mosque, and Imam Choudhury took the time to patiently explain some prayer rituals to her, including where the women sit during prayer (in the back, behind a curtain). I asked if the Masjid had faced any trouble in the neighborhood, and Imam Choudhury waved away my concerns, saying that they never had any problems as a mosque in the East Village of New York City. His friendliness and openness probably had a lot to do with the mosque's peaceful relationship with its neighbours. Outside the Masjid, seventeen-year-old Shumon was selling perfumes and other Muslim knicknacks from a sidewalk table -- a business that he inherited from his grandfather. Shumon arrived in the US one and half years ago, from Sylhet, Bangladesh. His English is rapidly improving, and he is in school taking extra lessons. We were welcomed warmly by everyone at the mosque, and spoke to our hosts at length. We thanked everyone for their time, and moved on to our next event, the ICP.
A quick stop in Grand Central and Times Square showed a surprisingly low turnout of law enforcement. One waitress I spoke to said she was planning on staying away from all bridges, and was in fact spending the night at a friend's house. That being said, the city felt empty, apart from tourists. The International Center for Photography is having a 9/11 exhibit, where we saw images from Eugene Richards and others. Unfortunately, taking photographs is not allowed inside the ICP. We went back downtown, to the West Side, by the water.
At Pier 40, the Interfaith Center of New York held their annual WTC Memorial Floating Lantern Ceremony. Various faith-based organizations collaborated in the event, whose highlight is a Japanese lantern ceremony, marked by lighting paper lanterns floating them off to sea. This year, the ceremony paid tribute to the Tsunami victims of 3/11, as well as the WTC victims of 9/11. Hundreds of people gathered at the Pier 40 park. There was free food, courtesy of the United Sikhs. Visitors came to light lanterns and pay their respects. The evening was fun and respectful, a perfect end to a day for contemplation and remembrance.
All in all, I would say that the tenth anniversary was a subdued, sober affair in New York City.