TARGET 060517

Wall Street Pauses,
Reminded of All That Has Changed

Workers on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday September 11, 2002, observe a moment of silence at 10:59 a.m. EST, the time the second World Trade Center tower collapsed a year earlier.
Story by Adam Geller
Date: 9/11/2002 10:59 AM
NEW YORK — German shepherds patrolled outside, concrete and metal barricades formed a fortress around Wall Street, and the crackling of police radios was one of the few interruptions to an otherwise eery hush.

But trader Mark Feeley pushed past it all and took up his place on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange again Wednesday, savoring the familiarity of a place that has been his solace throughout the last year.

“The best thing is getting back here and going back to being with everybody on this trading floor,” said Feeley, a Morgan Stanley trader who’s worked on the exchange for 26 years. “Because, I will tell you, this is my second family down here.”

Feeley and all the other people who make Wall Street work paused to mark the moment Wednesday when the World Trade Center fell, to recount the stories of the friends they lost, to give thanks for those who made it. Then, they got back to business.

But even as the nation’s financial heart again demonstrated its resiliency, traders and brokers known for being brash and loud turned quiet. The day reminds them, they said, that this place and its people have changed.

Those feelings were echoed in the notes scribbled by mourners in church’s registry book. “Peace to all Men,” one wrote. “Thank You God For All Our Blessings,” wrote another.

The music from the service — a Schubert string quintet — mixed with the roar of commuter buses pouring into downtown, as workers arrived for a delayed opening of stock trading. On the streets in the financial district, many people were silent, some bowing their heads.

People who know the area say the pulse of the financial district has been altered by what happened.

“When I first came back here, they were still pulling out bodies and the sounds and smells were devastating,” said Andrea Moxey, who left her job at a firm just down the street from the exchange within weeks of the attacks because she couldn’t bear to spend every day in Lower Manhattan.

On Wednesday, though, she passed through the district, and noted that even a year hasn’t been enough to change the way she feels.

That sense of foreboding also continues to weigh on investors, traders said.

Stocks retreated Wednesday on extremely light volume, a reminder of a year in which the markets have been dragged down by reaction to the attacks, then to a flurry of corporate scandals and because of lingering doubts about an economic rebound.

The fact that investors continue to worry about terrorism is just one more reminder to Wall Street about what took place just blocks away, traders said.

“Getting through every day helps psychologically,” said Ted Weisberg of Seaport Securities, staking out space in a sea of traders on the NYSE floor. “Trading stock every day is very emotional. You have to deal with emotions and you have to learn to keep those emotions outside when you walk into the building.”

Others who work on Wall Street, though, said Wednesday’s ceremony at Ground Zero, the two minutes of silence observed on the floor of the NYSE and the completion of a year, were an important step in moving on.

It wasn’t easy, though. In the moments before trading began at noon Wednesday, trader John Pickett spoke of the three friends caught in the south tower before the second plane hit. One made it out. The others, who ventured back upstairs to retrieve a cell phone and a computer, when a mistaken all-clear signal was given, perished.

“A lot of people down here on the floor lost a lot of colleagues, a lot of friends,” he said. “Today really brings some closure.”

He and other traders erupted in loud applause when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor George Pataki, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Harvey Pitt, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, walked on to the floor of the NYSE.

And they cheered minutes later as New York City Policeman Daniel Rodriguez sang the last words of the Star Spangled Banner, and officials sounded the opening bell.

Wednesday may remind Wall Street of what it lost, but Thursday it will move on, the people who work here assured themselves, because it is a captive of its own inertia.

“I’m sure it will be back again tomorrow. It has to be,” said Chris Wurtz, an employee at Deutsche Bank, pondering the future over a cigarette. “What choice do we have?”

Copyright © 2006 The Reno Gazette-Journal

Pictures of the NYSE facility

The building
The entrance

The floor of the exchange

Many thanks to Ken Dye for the suggestion of this target.


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