Awestruck by Creation and Destruction in New York

As you may know if you follow me on Twitter (and if you don't, why not?) I spent the day yesterday in New York City. Normally my trips to New York are for very specific reasons, but yesterday was pretty much an open day with no set plans, which gave me the opportunity to experience things I hadn't before. There were two things about the city in particular that left me awestruck.

The first was Ground Zero. Now, it's been nine years since 9/11, and I've been to New York dozens of times since then, but somehow I'd never made it to Ground Zero before. It's... well, it's hard to describe the experience of being there, especially now. There's not "nothing" there anymore, like there was a few years ago, but there's not really "something" there either, at least not in the way there used to be. Even walking away from the site, I looked up in the sky and remarked that just a decade ago, There would have been two massive buildings obscuring the view, but now you look up an actually see sky. You wouldn't think that would be a bad thing, but it is. It's as simple as that.

Later in my journey around the city, Jen and I stopped at the New York Public Library. Now, outside the building I was making jokes about "Ghostbusters" and pointing out the exact spot where Uncle Ben died in "Spider-Man", but once we were inside, it's a different story. The building itself is an architectural beauty, but that wasn't what caught my attention. The NYPL has one of the few remaining copies (though an incomplete copy) of the Gutenberg Bible.

Now, I'm not a religious person, but I could have stood there looking at that book for hours, even though it's enclosed in glass and not available for page-by-page viewing to the general public (it's also written in Latin, which means even if I could flip through it, I couldn't actually read it). This is the most important book in human history, not for its content, but for its creation process. The Gutenberg printing press brought reading to the masses -- prior to the printing press, all books were handwritten, and it took about a year to produce a single Bible -- and ushered in the start of the information age. The Gutenberg Bible represents such an important part of history, and yet somehow in all my trips to New York, I'd never taken the time to stop and see it in person.

Even without making these two stops, yesterday's trip to New York would have been worthwhile, but this elevated the trip to another level.