Irish in New York: ‘I fear we’re becoming desensitised’

Readers report ‘business as usual’ in the city following Manhattan terror attack

Claire Peterson: ‘The news really frightened me.’

Claire Peterson: ‘The news really frightened me.’

 

As New York comes to terms with a terror attack on Tuesday, in which a man drove a pick-up truck down a busy Manhattan cycle path leaving eight people dead, Irish Times Abroad readers living in the city have been sending us their reaction to the attack.

Donagh O’Malley: ‘New York is not the kind of place that turns in on itself’

The mood in the city today is business as usual. New York is open, diverse and not the kind of place that turns in on itself, or particular groups of people, in times of adversity. New Yorkers are pragmatic in assessing risk.

I have been living in New York City for six years, where I work for a music start-up. I feel fortunate to live somewhere where there’s a sensible balance between personal freedom and public safety. Ninety per cent of us rejected Donald Trump and his policies in last year’s election, so you’re not going to find many people ranting about immigrants here today.

Rachel Yoder: 'I was happy in my ignorance, telling myself it would never happen here'

I got a text at 2.47pm on Halloween from a friend who works in the financial district, not far from Wall Street. She had just seen a man be roughly tackled and arrested by 20 police officers. Why does it take that many to subdue one man, she wondered? I assumed it was heightened security on account of the parade that would be going up Sixth Avenue, right past my house.

I didn’t mention the text to my Irish friend who had been over to see me. She was about to get in a cab to the airport and I didn’t want to worry her. After watching the cab part through a cluster of about 60 police officers, I went back inside to catch up on the headlines. The first thing I saw was a twitter alert about an attack on the West Side Highway, a stone’s throw from where I live near Washington Square Park.

My heart started beating faster while my logical brain struggled to remain calm. I am an avid cyclist, and travel along that bike path once a week. It’s my favourite place to take tourists when they visit, a wonderful way to see the city. It’s also one of the safest bike paths in Manhattan, or so I always maintained when friends and family asked was I crazy for riding a bike in the Big Apple. I felt detached. I read about these things in other cities, but you never expect it to happen in yours.

I took my dogs for a walk. There were barricades everywhere and people in costume, tiny kids and students at varying stages of drunkenness. It’s unnerving to be howled at by a zombie at the best of times, but to have hundreds of people milling happily about in their mummy bandages and witch hats made me want to ask, did they know what had just happened? Were they aware that something terrible had taken place close by? If you didn’t have a smartphone you would have been none the wiser given all the smiling faces and the bustle of the crowds.

Texts started coming in. Are you ok? Isn’t that close to where you live? My friend at the airport was spooked, but thankful her flight wasn’t delayed. My mother was one of the last to ask after me, she tends to stay off the news and has only been alerted by her best friend in Australia. The global village springs into action, taking stock of their people.

That evening I was due to go to Brooklyn on the subway to sign a lease for a new apartment. My boyfriend wondered if we should reschedule, but having been here so long my attitude was to do what everyone else was doing. Get on with it. Business as usual. Can’t let this stop you, we all have places to be. Of course there were practical considerations, are the subways running? Which line should we take to avoid delays? According to the MTA travel advisory, the parade was having a much bigger impact than the attack.

I was over by the West Side Highway today, not far from where it happened, walking a dog. There are still cobwebs and pumpkins decorating the townhouses. I spoke to my friend in the financial district this morning. Did that arrest she saw have anything to do with the man who drove the van? How do we reconcile our liberal values with the personal feeling that our adoptive city is being attacked? I was so happy in my ignorance, telling myself it would never happen here.

It’s cloudy today, no wind. I keep checking to see if the air is a little more still, the background noise of the city any quieter, but it’s business as usual as best I can tell.

Anne Dudginski regulalry runs along the West Side Highway path, where Uzbek national Sayfullo Saipov drove into a group of pedestrians and cyclists on Tuesday.
Anne Dudginski regulalry runs along the West Side Highway path, where Uzbek national Sayfullo Saipov drove into a group of pedestrians and cyclists on Tuesday.

Anne Dudginski: ‘I fear we’re becoming desensitised’

I moved from Dublin to New York in 2004. I live in the west side of Manhattan, and work in finance in midtown. I have run the NYC marathon twice. This is a great city for running; the Central Park loop and the West Side Highway along Hudson River Park are like a second home for me. I planned to run on Tuesday evening right by that spot where the attack took place. Having seen what happened, the treadmill won out. But I won’t be afraid to get back there and enjoy the great paths and lanes this city offers to run.

I’m saddened by what happened, but sadly not shocked. It’s a new world and New Yorkers remain resilient. Well, that’s how the news puts it in any case. I fear we’re becoming a little desensitised, not just here in New York, but everywhere. No one talked about it in the office today. It’s back to business as usual.

All we can do is stay aware, hope we’re not caught in a situation like this and look out for our friends, families and neighbours.

A bicycle lies in the bicycle lane on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, following a pickup truck attack on Tuesday. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters
A bicycle lies in the bicycle lane on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, following a pickup truck attack on Tuesday. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Aisling Jumper: ‘The hyper-awareness becomes a part of your life’

I am from Galway originally, and I’ve lived in New York for almost eight years. While we have not experienced a deadly terror attack during that time, I am very aware of the risk we take living in a large city that could be a target. For me, and my husband who is also not from New York, it is a risk worth taking, because we love the city. The hyper-awareness becomes a part of your life, your daily routine insulates you and you no longer consciously think about it.

I work as a lawyer in downtown Manhattan, close to Battery Park. I was not aware the attack had happened until my aunt in Paris texted to ask if I was ok. I checked the news, then and immediately called my husband who works closer to where the attack occurred over on the west side in Tribeca. Once I knew he was safe, I took in the news. It almost feels as if it happened in another city, even though it was less than a mile from where I work.

Traffic was a little heavier, there were more sirens and some increased security, but my commute home at 6pm was without delays. The journey into work this morning was completely normal. Life continues on for those of us who live and work in the city, who are not personally impacted by horror that occurred.

Police look towards the scene of the attack on West Side Highway in Manhattan. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Police look towards the scene of the attack on West Side Highway in Manhattan. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Claire Petersen: ‘I was inspired by how New Yorkers were coping’

I heard about the attack while at work. I am on a year-long J-1 visa, doing an internship as a photographer and digital marketing coordinator at an ethical fashion brand in the city. The news really frightened me. I didn’t help myself by constantly refreshing news pages for updates. I had planned to attend the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village that evening, but after hearing the news I just wanted to go straight home and curl up. I assumed the parade would be cancelled.

On my way to the subway I saw parents taking their kids trick-or-treating, and crowds gathering for the parade. It wasn’t cancelled. It takes a lot more than this to break this city. New Yorkers are resilient. They’ve been here before, survived and thrived. They just kept going as if it was any other October 31st.

I still headed home - I felt too nervous - but I was inspired by how New Yorkers were coping. I hope that some of that fearlessness passes on to me.

Ivor Connolly: ‘I am glad the suspect will be held accountable’

We had a friend visiting from Ireland this week, staying with us in the city for a few days. When I saw footage of the attack and the location on the news on Tuesday, my first thought was how we had been at that exact area on Saturday, making our way to Ellis Island for the afternoon tour. We had joked about walking accidentally among the cyclists on the cycle path.

Then, I thought of my three co-workers, who are based in a sister hotel just a few blocks away. With today’s technology I was quick to learn that all three were safe and well.

Three years ago, I moved with my partner to New York, where I am employed at the Ritz-Carlton New York at Central Park. New Yorkers are strong minded and will not let something like this bring them down. Being Irish, I sometimes think they go overboard with certain aspects of security here in the US, but in reality, all they want to do is keep their people safe. I am glad the suspect was caught alive, and will be held accountable for his actions.

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