(cba:news) news from New York

Joe Patterson jop at astro.columbia.edu
Wed Sep 12 08:21:34 EDT 2001

Dear CBAers,

     Many thanks to those of you who wrote to express their concern, and
for thinking about us.  For those of you who don't know New York City,
there is a "downtown" part where all the tall buildings live, and an
"uptown" part where people tend to live.  Since 1903, Columbia has been
uptown, 6 miles north of the World Trade Center.  A steady breeze blew
from the west yesterday, so the great pillars of smoke blew straight east,
away from us.  There was no damage at all near the University.

As afternoon came, great lines of cars appeared, heading north away from
the area of attacks.  Barely moving; the biggest traffic jam I
ever saw.  Many people walking too, but very orderly.  The food stores
were jammed.  By late evening the streets became very quiet, with cars
practically gone but student life seeming normal.

As far as I know, no one from our community was caught near the WTC
yesterday.  We watched from the roof and from TV, like everyone.

This morning there were many grieving people on the streets around
Columbia.  As some of you know, the WTC has little involvement with some
sectors of NY (academic) and close involvement with others (trade,
finance, tourism, government offices).  But the neighborhood is eclectic,
so some people must have had great losses.  I saw many black people crying
on the streets as I walked to work this morning.

Maybe the human pattern is: first day shock, second day grief.  I think I
remember reading that, and it accords with my own meager experience.

Jonathan is fine, observing on Kitt Peak.  It's calming to think that the
cosmos is undisturbed - WZ Sge flaring again - and it's more than calming
to think that I can come to work and focus, however briefly, on these
celestial puzzles that fascinate us all so much.  I'm deeply grateful for
all your wonderful observations!


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