A walk around the mosque’s neighborhood

The Web site, History Eraser, is being passed around today, purporting to show that the “sacred ground” around the World Trade Center where a mosque/community center is planned is already littered with the likes of chain stores and strip joints. Of course, it is New York.


It’s a compelling series of images. It’s also a little misleading.

Many of the photographs don’t appear to be in the immediate neighborhood where the mosque/community center is planned.

Let’s use the incredible power of Google. Here’s Park Place, ground zero for the controversy. 51 Park Place is down near the closed Burlington Coat Factory.


If we were to walk a street over to the next block, there are some closed stores an an OTB (off-track betting) parlor.


But turning right onto Church Street instead, we head toward the World Trade Center.


Church Street is so named, apparently, because of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. This is the intersection of Church and Barclay.


You may remember the significance of the church on 9/11 when firefighters carried the body of a firefighter-chaplain to its altar. A landing gear from one of the jets ended up on its roof.

The building on the right is a federal building.

Continue walking down Church Street to the corner of Vesey Street. There are a few typical New York shops and the Stage Door Deli, across from St. Paul’s Chapel.


But turn around and there it is, or — sadly — isn’t.


We’ve walked two blocks. Now let’s cross the street and walk up Vesey. This street parallels Park Place, where the mosque/community center is planned. We can’t, of course, because it’s closed. But if we could, we’d walk a block, turn right on W. Broadway, and glance back over our shoulder.


And again as we reach the intersection of W. Broadway and Barclay.


A look to our right as we cross Barclay (the road that runs parallel between the mosque’s street and the WTC) shows nothing that screams irreverent.


And we continue walking up W. Broadway.


And here we are back at the Amish Market at the corner of W. Broadway and Park Place. Take a right to get back to the mosque/community center site.


Where’s the strip joint? It’s a block over, away from the World Trade Center site. To be clear, many of the photos on the History Eraser site are within a few blocks of the WTC site.

Opponents of the mosque claim it doesn’t belong on ‘sacred ground.’ History Eraser attempts to rebut the argument by showing that it’s not.

  • Jon

    interesting to note that it isn’t literally littered with strip clubs and OTB joints…

    Though looking at the link you posted I only see one strip joint and one OTB…

    I also don’t see any claim on the site that they are directly around the mosque… just areas that are the same distance (so the strip club is a block off…)

    either way the only things that I could consider “sacred ground” would be the mosque it self, and the church you mention… New York is a living City, we can’t turn all of it into a 9/11 shrine…

  • Thanks for the context, Bob. And nice use of Google Maps!

    For me the main point is that none of this is hallowed ground, with the exception of the actual Ground Zero, where they’re already building something. It’s New York.

  • “New York Dolls” is on the other side of the same exact block from the proposed community center. So when he says his post is “a few photos of stuff the same distance from the World Trade Center,” how is that misleading? Read the whole post: his intention is to illustrate a response to Sarah Palin saying it was “such hallowed ground.” I thought he did that honestly, factually, and it wasn’t misleading in the slightest.

    I’ve personally walked around that area in June 2008 and his photos are a perfect representation of the area. How is scraping Google Maps any better?

    Either way, the real point here is that New Yorkers, as well as people truly familiar with living with other cultures, generally don’t care if a community center with a mosque happens to be a couple blocks away from the WTC site.

  • Bob Collins

    I read the whole post and I know the area having lived in New York too. The attempt was clear, to show that the area is home to unsavoriness and, indeed, it is. It’s new York.

    I posit that such a series of photographs also requires — for balance — a full picture of the neighborhood, including the church which most certainly IS hallowed ground.

    In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with Sarah Palin referring to the area as “hallowed ground.” It is. My problem is with her assertion that (a) that’s a reason for denying people the opportunity to worship where they choose and (b) that a mosque is, because of its relationship to a religion, not consistent with the concept of sacred.


  • BJ

    Good post Bob – It was ‘a little misleading’ just like you promised. Not a lot, just a little.

  • Jim Hartmann

    What makes a church “hallowed ground”? It’s just a fracking building. Some of which have been used to shield and protect pedophiles and other criminals.

  • Jim Hartmann

    via Twitter: BadAstronomer: RT @phlebas: I too revere the Ground Zero site. Therefore I object to despoiling it with a giant office building. STOP THE DESECRATION!

  • Jared Hoke

    This whole “controversy” is an excellent example of our overheated media environment., and shameless manipulation by the unscrupulous, who keep pushing our buttons. A minute or two of clear thought should make it obvious that any such denial to a place of worship is unconstitutional, and should be. A minute more should reveal that we are NOT at war with Islam. Should we return to the same “guilt by association” we had a bellyfull in the 50s? If we do, our enemies will have won without firing another shot.