In Prospect

Autumn 2001

When the Twin Towers fell, City Journal shelved almost all the stories that were to go into our Autumn issue and started over—so please forgive our two-week delay in getting this copy to you. In what follows, we have tried to present as comprehensive as possible a look at the key issues surrounding the great tragedy that has befallen our city.

As you’d expect, our lead story, "How to Rebuild New York," presents City Journal’s plan for restoring both Gotham’s economic and its physical fabric. Contributing editor Steven Malanga urges that the city at once rezone the Far West Side near the Javits Center to permit big office and apartment towers, so that building can start there while we wait for the cleanup at Ground Zero. The benchmark for speed ought to be the Empire State Building, which rose in 13 months in 1930, with the Depression under way: steelworkers riveted into place girders still warm from the Bethlehem mill. The World Trade Center site itself, we recommend, should be rejoined to the city grid, and ten or so 60- to 75-story skyscrapers should rise there, centered on a memorial plaza. Redevelopment should be principally a project of the market, not the government. At the same time, given the damage that the attack has done to the local economy, we urge the new mayor to rein in spending and cut taxes, making the city as business-friendly as possible at a time when businesses are thinking of leaving town for good.

A panel of distinguished citizens, we think, should solicit plans from private developers for the WTC site and expeditiously choose the best one. For panel membership, we volunteer any of the trustees of the Manhattan Institute, City Journal’s publisher, starting with former Citicorp CEO Walter Wriston, who played so key a role in bailing out the city from its mid-seventies’ brush with bankruptcy. Other businessmen-members might include broker and philanthropist Richard Gilder or ex-Pfizer CEO William Steere or architecture expert Richard Jenrette, a founder of a major investment bank and ex-CEO of a major insurance company. The panel should have an architect like Yale architecture school dean Robert A. M. Stern, author of the standard architectural history of New York, and a museum head, like New York historian Kenneth Jackson or Philippe de Montebello. It needs a real estate developer like Francis Greenburger, perhaps an author and great amateur urbanist like Tom Wolfe, and a foundation executive like James Piereson. And it should be small enough to be effective, no more than 20.

What happens when a task like this is left to a government authority Brian C. Anderson’s story about the building of the World Trade Center lays out in monitory detail, making painfully clear that this would not be the intelligent course to take for rebuilding downtown.

Though the market should make the ultimate decision about what buildings actually rise, we’ve asked our friends at the architectural firm of Franck Lohsen McCrery to imagine what a new WTC neighborhood might look like, and their splendid plans and designs begin on page 30. Celebrated sculptor Alexander Stoddart, whose newest work has just been unveiled at Princeton University and who is currently working on projects at Buckingham Palace and Oxford University, has provided us with a profoundly moving design for a memorial to the victims of the attack, seen on the cover and on page 39. We urge its adoption.

There follow two absorbing and troubling stories about Islam and Muslims in the West by Daniel Pipes and Farrukh Dhondy, which provide deep insight into the nature of the challenge we face. Heather Mac Donald’s thoughtful, information-packed story on how New York can protect itself from terrorism (page 58) and Mark Krikorian’s article on the immigration reforms necessary to keep terrorists out of the country (page 69) spell out the security measures we need to take to meet that challenge.

Finally, because our greatest vulnerability in the war on terrorism is our resolve to fight it to the finish, a trio of superb stories deals with the civilization we are fighting to preserve. Theodore Dalrymple’s "What We Have to Lose" (page 74) is must reading, Victor Davis Hanson’s story about New York’s heroic cops and firemen on page 84 is moving and heartening, and "Earth to Ivory Tower: Get Real!" by Kay S. Hymowitz and Harry Stein (page 90) warns that the America-bashers and make-love-not-war crowd on campus and in the media and Hollywood are still grinding out their dispiriting messages that fortunately most Americans are too realistic to believe.