Coronavirus zaps famous store near WTC

Posted by watchmen
September 14, 2020
Posted in OPINION

“It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


This is not the famous Century 21 in Subic Bay Philippines, touted as “the world’s largest and the most trusted real estate sales and brokerage organization.” 

Century 21 is the favorite store of Filipino journalists in the Lower Manhattan that became an emotional flashpoint during and after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

It grabbed headlines after being evacuated when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, and the interior was significantly damaged from the collapse of the Twin Towers.

It was not initially certain that the store would be rebuilt, but five months after the shocking terror attacks, the owners opted to remain at the same site.

After the store’s renovation and reopening in early-2002, thousands of people waited hours on the morning of the reopening so they could have a sales receipt from that day.

A day before the 19th year of the attacks, Century 21 announced it would be closing all of its 13 retail stores, including the store on 66th and Broadway, citing the last straw as a “nonpayment of approximately $175 million by the company’s insurance providers.”

The company has reportedly filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy “to end things efficiently and to maximize the value of its assets for the benefit of stakeholders.”



Century 21 co-CEO Raymond Gindi released the following statement:

“While insurance money helped us to rebuild after suffering the devastating impact of 9/11, we now have no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business because our insurers, to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time. While retailers across the board have suffered greatly due to COVID-19, and Century 21 is no exception, we are confident that had we received any meaningful portion of the insurance proceeds, we would have been able to save thousands of jobs and weather the storm, in hopes of another incredible recovery.”



The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum has explained why there were some changes in this year’s 19th year commemoration of the Twin Towers 9/11 terroristic attack that killed more than 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.

“We understand the disappointment that some within the 9/11 community have expressed with this year’s change,” the museum said in a statement. “Protecting the health and safety of everyone at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is a great responsibility, and so our decision—as difficult as it was to make—is not to put families, who have already gone through so much, potentially at additional risk, while remaining fully committed to enabling all present to hear the names of their loved ones spoken by family members in the serene and sacred setting of the Memorial.”

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has impacted and altered our society in countless ways, has changed how the Big Apple reflects on that day of infamy 19 years ago.

Changes have been made in the annual morning vigil at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum to reflect the current crisis, and protect those who gather there from potential infection.

Families of 9/11 victims were scheduled to again gather at the site on Sept. 11, but for the first time, the program did not include a live reading of the victims’ names.

Organizers instead played a recording of victims’ names, gathered from the museum’s In Memoriam exhibition, to honor the memories of those lost in the terroristic act.

Some have reportedly bristled with the change and have insisted that a live reading go on regardless of the pandemic.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to first responders and named for a firefighter lost on 9/11, has organized a live name-reading on Sept. 11 at the corner of Liberty and Church streets. Vice President Mike Pence was expected to participate in the name-reading ceremony, which the Siller Foundation indicated would have 140 masked, socially-distanced participants.



Bells tolled at six observed moments of silence marking the timeline of the attacks: 8:46 a.m., the moment when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center; 9:02 a.m., when hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 struck the trade center’s South Tower; 9:37 a.m., when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon; 9:59 a.m., when the South Tower collapsed; 10:02 a.m., when hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and 10:29 a.m., when the North Tower collapsed.

Houses of worship across New York City have been encouraged to toll their bells at 8:46 a.m. to honor the victims of 9/11.

After the ceremony was completed, family members toured the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which reopened fully to the public on Sept. 12 after nearly six months of closure due to the pandemic.

Shortly after sunset on Sept. 11, the Tribute in Light was scheduled to return to the New York City skyline. Twin beams of light, created by floodlights placed near the World Trade Center site, marked the absence of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum had initially opted in August to cancel this year’s Tribute in Light display, fearful of the safety of those tasked with assembling it, but reversed course after a public outcry and the development of a safety plan.



Alex P. Vidal, who is based in New York City, used to be the editor for two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ

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