EghtesadOnline: Life crept back to a New York City street that was rattled by a bomb on Saturday, as business owners and their employees traded disbelief and fear for the task of getting back to normal on Manhattan's West 23rd Street.
Shattered shop doors and windows, remnants of yellow police tape and nearly deserted sidewalks that normally bustle with activity were reminders on Tuesday morning of the blast that shook the Chelsea neighborhood and injured 29 people on a warm September evening.
By New York City standards, the block between 6th and 7th Avenues is unremarkable, dotted with small shops and brick apartment towers and some distance from tourist magnets like the Empire State Building and Times Square. Perhaps the most significant landmark in the immediate vicinity is the Flatiron Building at 5th and 23rd, according to Reuters.
So, why 23rd Street? Investigators still want to know why the bomb was placed inside a ubiquitous metal dumpster in that part of town.
“We didn't think it would happen on a quiet block. You have a gym, a closed-down church, you have a Dunkin' Donuts," said Avhik Mitra, a banker at a Capital One branch that reopened for business on Tuesday with a plywood sheet in place of a glass window.
"Do you expect something to go down over here?," Mitra asked rhetorically. "It's not even a tourist-y location.”
Even though authorities reopened the block to motor and pedestrian traffic on Tuesday, it was far from business as usual at the bank, Mitra said. Few customers showed up during the morning.
"I think people are still too scared to come out," he said.
Hoping to reassure people in the neighborhood, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the popular Malibu Diner a few doors down from where the bomb went off. He received a warm welcome.
De Blasio shook hands, posed for photos and greeted people seated in booths and at the counter, then he sat with some customers and chatted over coffee.
The dumpster in which the bomb exploded had been in front of King David Gallery 23, a glass and mirror shop where cleanup was in full swing on Tuesday.
A man named Baruch, who works at the gallery and declined to give his last name, said the shop was the “ground zero” of Saturday's blast, in a reference to the site where the World Trade Center stood when it was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We are saddened by the events that took place, but as New Yorkers, we are resilient and we’ll keep going with our daily routine," Baruch said. "There’s shock, there is disbelief but there's no anger."
Security cameras at Orange Theory Fitness caught the blast. The video footage, shown extensively on cable television, helped police track down the suspect, according to Adam, the gym’s owner, who declined to give his last name.
On Tuesday morning, the double-door at the entrance to the gym was missing. Web-like cracks ran through the front windows, which were X'd with duct tape. Contractors outside evaluated the damage.
"It's not the expense that really matters," said Adam, noting that the gym was closed when the bomb went off. "You can't replace someone's life. You can always replace glass at a fitness studio.”