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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America's New War: 100 Blocks of Manhattan

Aired September 26, 2001 - 14:51   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Fifteen days after the attack on the World Trade Center life in New York is slowly getting back to normal -- or a new normal. Actress and playwright Anna Deveare Smith traveled 100 blocks of Fifth Avenue to take the pulse of New Yorkers from Harlem to Manhattan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA DEVEARE SMITH, ACTRESS, PLAYWRIGHT: This is 125th Street and 5th Avenue in Harlem, about a block and a half way from former President Clinton's office, and a world away from Ground Zero.

(voice-over): But if life seems normal...

(on camera): ... you work in this shop here?

(voice-over): Here, as everywhere, people are worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The little man going to be the one fighting this war, you know...

SMITH: The little man -- some your friends?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, my son, yes, on the ground fighting the war. SMITH: You feel safe up here in Harlem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I feel safe up here.

SMITH: You don't think they would come here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no reason for them to come here.

SMITH: How come?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) They can't make no point by coming here.

SMITH (voice-over): They can't make no point by coming up here.

We left Harlem and headed down 5th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came to United States in two years and a half now. SMITH (on camera): Two years and a half?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SMITH: From?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Morroco, from Casablanca -- to try the American dream.

SMITH: You know, some Americans are afraid of Muslim people, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, everybody's so -- what happened is inhuman and like Muslim our, that's against our religion.

SMITH: What do you think is going to happen to your American dream now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we are like Americans because we pay taxes, we pay our bills.

SMITH (voice-over): The Metropolitan Museum of Art seems sturdy and strong, as the beacon of classical culture.

(on camera): Some people are just very afraid that art is just going to disappear off the face of the earth at a time like now. What does it give you to come to a museum under these circumstances?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gives you a sense of normalcy. All the great old master pictures provide a sense of security in that they survived so many hundreds of years through so many wars. To just look at them again in these times just provides that sense of security that I think we are all looking for.

SMITH (voice-over): Security, safety. Is everyone worried about it? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . I am from Seoul, Korea.

SMITH: Not Mr. Kim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe thousands, million of thousand angels on my head.

SMITH (on camera): A thousand million angels, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SMITH: This is a place where people come from all over the world and from all over the city to feel New York at its best. And accept for a couple of flags at half-mast, and one single tattered flyer of a missing person, it would be hard to believe that in this city our world was turned upside down.

(voice-over): People are still going into F.A.O. Schwartz. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't buy anything today, nothing. I left the wallet at home, that's how much I don't want to buy anything.

SMITH: Vendors are as entrepreneurial as ever. And ladies still lunch. But some of the people who usually work in this neighborhood have nothing to do, and then, across the street, the Plaza Hotel, famous for the fictional adventures of Eloise, now offers bed and board to exhausted French rescue dogs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huge, the scale is huge. Tremendous amount of metal.

SMITH: The Plaza is happy to have guests, even if they are dogs because without tourists everybody's business is suffering.

(on camera): Mr. Fuentes, I am Anna.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.

SMITH: Nice to meet you. Where are you from, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm from El Salvador.

SMITH: How has your business been this week?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about 30 percent less.

SMITH: (voice-over): There are a few tourists to be found at the Empire State Building, disappointed it was closed, but undaunted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the way in, our pilot dipped his wings as he went over the Trade Center. Everybody on the plane applauded as a show of respect.

SMITH (on camera): We started at 125th Street and 5th Avenue. And as we got closer to the end we found ourselves in almost the same route as that plane which came down 5th Avenue before it hit the World Trade Center.

And it took us these 100 blocks to see the real palpable evidence of what is going on.

Have you been passing this on a daily basis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. I can't go by without stopping and -- without being reduced to tears.

SMITH: How are you working on yourself to help yourself with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day by day, keep bracing yourself, you cry on your own time and while you are there you do the job are you paid to do. SMITH (voice-over): If we learned anything from our journey down 5th Avenue, it is that both our work and our tears are essential to begin the healing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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