New Yorkers take latest terrorism threat in stride on eve of 9/11 anniversary

September 9, 2011

New Yorkers braced for another terrorist threat on Friday the same way they always do: They took note of it, shook it off, and went to work.

A decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, New York has adjusted to life at the top of al-Qaeda’s favored-target list.

With local and federal officials warning of a “credible but unconfirmed” threat of a new attack being planned from overseas, most residents of the Big Apple took Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s advice to keep their eyes open but stick to daily routines and take it all in stride.

“We’ve just been through an earthquake, we’ve been through a hurricane, and we survived the blackout in 2003,” said Gregory Eley, 45, who works near the World Trade Center site in the child services department. “You go through enough stuff, you take it seriously, but you have to be able to adapt to it.”

From Ground Zero to Grand Central Station, there was a visible police presence Friday at the city’s landmarks, including bomb-sniffing dogs and vehicle checkpoints. But it was nothing out of the ordinary.

Security was visible on Wall Street, but life went on. Chinese tourists snapped photographs in front of the New York Stock Exchange, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani spoke to reporters on the floor of the exchange.

A group of busi­ness­peo­ple stopped to have a photograph taken on the steps of Federal Hall, unfurling a corporate banner for their company, Bonds.com.

Security forces, armed with assault rifles, that typically patrol the financial square were absent Friday morning, said Viviana Fernandez, 28, a student who lives in the heart of the financial center. In general, Fernandez said, the constant presence of security in her neighborhood makes her feel safe.

“I don’t feel very scared,” she said.“I feel like Wall Street is probably the safest place in the world.”

Besides, she added, life is unpredictable and impossible to control.

“If it’s meant to happen, it’s meant to happen,” she said.

At Ground Zero, Kimberly Mustin, 44, also shrugged off the terrorist threat. Mustin, a sales manager at OppenheimerFunds, said she is taking precautions over the Sept. 11 anniversary weekend, avoiding bridges, tunnels and subways.

But, she added, “you’ve got to live your life. You think about it in the same way that you think about the possibility that someone could swipe your pocketbook. It’s part of our life here. But it’s a great city.”

The morning commute seemed unaffected by the warnings of the latest threat. Commuters swelled subway platforms in Wall Street, Union Square and Grand Central Station. While the city’s main tabloid headlines screamed out terror alerts, people riding underground seemed unfazed.

Remy Francois, a guitar player wearing a gold crown, sang French songs at the Union Square station. Tom Swafford, a young Brooklyn violinist, serenaded Grand Central commuters with variations on Beethoven’s Seventh.

Reginald Veneziano, 33, an East Village actor, was waiting at Grand Central Station for a train to take him to a performance in the Catskills.

“You can’t anticipate the most dangerous threats in life,” he said. “The most dangerous times are those that are least expected. That’s what happened on 9/11 — that wasn’t an anniversary of anything. In a weird way, I feel more comfortable when the city’s on high alert.”

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