As New York awakes, residents mourn the dead and come to grips with a new skyline

Wednesday, September 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ New Yorkers awoke Wednesday to a different city.

There were prayer services instead of Broadway matinees, high school classes and baseball games. And there was a painful gap in the famous skyline.

Partly out of mourning, partly out of shock, the nation's largest city was quieter than normal the morning after a day of chaos and terror.

Officials ordered sharp restrictions on the city's vast transportation system, including bridges, airports, buses and tunnels. Businesses in lower Manhattan, the heart of the financial world, were closed, as were the city's schools.

But the biggest difference was the look of the city itself. The majestic towers of the World Trade Center had been visible from much of the metropolitan area, soaring above all the city's other skyscrapers.

No more.

``In the morning, the first thing I would do is look at the towers,'' said Colleen Lydon, who lives across the street from the rubble that was the twin 110-story towers. ``They're gone.''

On a typical Wednesday, Mariam Lakob, 50, would be teaching English at the nursing college in uptown Manhattan, and her two young children would be at school. But not this day.

``I hate to say it, but we'll probably have a pingpong tournament at home, just to keep the mood up, try to keep them feeling like kids,'' Lakob said. ``I think for a 15-year-old to wake up to the reality of an evil world is very, very painful.''

Officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airports and many of the bridges and tunnels in the area, asked that all nonessential employees commuting into Manhattan stay home Wednesday if their employers would allow it.

The region's three major international airports _ John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark _ were to remain closed until at least Wednesday afternoon. The tunnels leading to New Jersey _ the Holland and Lincoln _ were to be shut to all except emergency vehicles.

The Port Authority bus terminal, at Times Square, and the George Washington Bridge also were shut down.

On Tuesday, people streamed up the city's avenues and across the Brooklyn Bridge on foot after officials halted subways and some streets to traffic.

Others ran for the ferry terminals, ending up in New Jersey or Staten Island, then trying to figure out how to get home. Some who ended up in New Jersey started walking to homes miles away.

In the streets of the financial district, people with cell phones found them useless because of overloaded networks. Commuters lined up to use pay phones or wrangled rides with strangers. Some were dazed and streaked with ash from the fiery wreckage.

Ferries that normally transport commuters were transporting the injured and dead to mobile hospitals and makeshift morgues in New Jersey and Staten Island.