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New York's 9/11 generation: how attack shaped city's children (+video)

Even as images of 9/11 recede into annual memorials and distant memories, the attacks can still have an impact on the everyday rhythms of city life. It can be especially poignant for the newest generation of adults.

9/11 anniversary marked with tributes
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A few days before this year’s 9/11 anniversary, Sarah Sarway and a group of her friends were sitting on the grass near the Edge, a new 30-story luxury condo building on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s part of a complex of gleaming glass high-rises sometimes referred to as New York’s nascent fifth skyline.

As they were talking, a single-engine seaplane swooped down and approached a patch of water to make a landing in front of them.

“We all looked at each other, and our faces went white,” says Ms. Sarway, an administrative assistant in her early 20s who works for a nutritionist in Brooklyn. “As it was getting lower and lower, we all just started staring at each other, and said, ‘What’s going on here?’”

It was a surreal moment for the group, a collection of four New York-reared college seniors and job-seeking grads, most of whom were in fourth or fifth grade at the time of the attacks.

“Afterwards we were talking about how it’s so weird that we live in a world where that can be such a scary thing,” Sarway continues. “That just to see an airplane – clearly landing in the water, it wasn’t going to hit any building – but the fact that any of us even for a second felt scared was very unusual, a very weird feeling.”

These four individuals, just now beginning their adult lives in New York, the city in which they grew up, could be emblematic of a key aspect of this year’s 9/11 anniversary: Twelve years later, a number of significant new beginnings are coming about in the city.

Some are just now taking shape, like another set of gleaming glass high-rises at the World Trade Center, just across the harbor. In May, workers finally capped One World Trade with a 408-foot, 758-ton spire that will bring America’s tallest building to its symbolic height of 1,776 feet. For the first time, the basic contours of New York’s renewed iconic skyline are a part of the ground zero memorials.

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