Yahoo News invited New Yorkers who have lived and worked in Lower Manhattan to briefly reflect on how their neighborhood has changed since the 9/11 attacks. Here’s one story.
FIRST PERSON | As a 31-year-old freelance musician who worked in the lower Manhattan area both before and after the 9/11 attacks, I have noticed the area change drastically over the last 12 years.
Since 1999, I have spent three to four days a week playing bass guitar in various rock bands at many of the concert venues and bars in the area, most notably at The Continental on Third Ave. and St. Marks Place. I have also performed at the Crash Mansion, the Cake Shop and Bowery Electric, each of which are located fairly close to where the World Trade Center once stood.
Prior to the terrorist attacks of 2001, much of the lower Manhattan area had the look, feel and overall atmosphere of these dive bars. Many of the pubs and popular night spots in lower Manhattan were cheap ale houses that featured inexpensive drinks and informally dressed patrons, along with punk rock music playing over the jukebox.
The neighborhood’s tone and personality shifted after Sept. 11, as mass transit improvements seemed to reel more young, educated workers to the neighborhood.
Slowly but surely, the inexpensive dive bars that were once filled with mohawked punk rockers and hipsters with tattoos, piercings and leather jackets seemed to be taken over by white-collar workers with fancy button-down shirts.
Not only did the bars and night spots in lower Manhattan get swankier since the terrorist attacks, life got a lot more crowded in the area, too.
As far as the Ground Zero space itself, besides the obvious development of the 104-story Freedom Tower skyscraper, it now appears to be frequented mostly by tourists who wish to visit the site where the World Trade Center once stood. There’s a lot of traffic and extremely limited parking in the area, so New York City residents generally seem to avoid it whenever possible.
Of course, there are some things that have stayed the same, such as the “community vibe” of the space. Even before 2001, when the area was chock-full of low-income punk rockers and hipsters rather than college-educated folks, the community always banded together to help each other out.
I enjoyed lower Manhattan much more prior to 2001 because I identify more with the punk rock crowd. I don’t like going to bars that have dress codes and overpriced drinks.