Just How ‘Hallowed’ is the Ground Near Ground Zero?

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David Butow / Corbis

The controversy keeps rolling in about the proposed Islamic mosque in Lower Manhattan and the big complaint is that building sits near where the World Trade Center stood before terrorists destroyed it, thus making it hallowed ground.

But a short trip on the R train reveals that the area isn’t as hallowed as protesters are making it seem as blogger Daryl Lang’s History Eraser Button reminds us. The Cordoba House would sit in a former Burlington Coat Factory building about 600 feet (or two blocks) from the site. But much closer are things that typically don’t occupy hallowed ground, but are much more likely to found on any run-of-the-mill walk through New York City

For example, New York Doll’s Gentleman’s Club,  and the Pussycat Lounge are two strip clubs that sit within a block of Ground Zero, but are not seen as a threat to the land’s hallowed nature. So it seems to some, freedom of religion might be a problem, but a $10 lap dance is not (or maybe it’s $15 now, NewsFeed hasn’t been there in a while).

Then there’s Off Track Betting, where visitors to the sacred neighborhood are able to place bets on the horses without even breaking their solemn focus on the dump trucks and cranes that sit where the Twin Towers once stood. Think about it: where else can you show your reverence while at the same time putting all your faith in Fat Chance Cinnamon or Poco’s Black Charger?

Let’s not forget Thunder Lingerie and More, where you can pay your respects to the 9/11 tragedy, then take in a peep show, or pick up a few naughty items for that trip back to the hotel.

And most noticeable of anything you could see around this untouchable area are the dozens of street vendors who sit a stone’s throw away from Ground Zero capitalizing on the fact that it is one of New York’s most visited tourist attractions. Possibly millions of dollars change hands every weekend all in the name of capitalist gain and certainly not any reverence for the 2,700 who died in the space right behind them.

So deciding exactly how “hallowed” the area near Ground Zero is might be up to the individual visitor. But one thing’s true: those who have already deemed it as such don’t seem to mind the seedy stuff nearby as much as they do a quiet, private house of worship.

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