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In New York, Ground Zero goes from mourning to jubilation

A crowd swells and police block streets around the site of the fallen World Trade Towers, spraying champagne and singing.

May 01, 2011|By Nathaniel Popper | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • A crowd at New York's Ground Zero cheers the news that Osama bin Laden is dead.
A crowd at New York's Ground Zero cheers the news that Osama bin Laden… (Nathaniel Popper / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from New York — Soon after President Obama's speech about the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden ended, people started pouring into the area around Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. They came prepared -- with American flags, signs, and champagne bottles.

By 1 a.m., the crowd had swelled, and police had to block off streets and direct traffic amid people cheering and spontaneously erupting into the "Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America."

One man climbed onto a traffic light and uncorked champagne to drench the crowd from on high. learly many people had simply jumped into their cars and driven downtown, because the horns were blasting all over the usually quiet financial district.

Photos: Osama bin Laden dead

When ambulances and police cars showed up -- some with their sirens blaring and lights flashing -- they too were cheered. Next to a skeletons of new buildings rising where the World Trade Towers had fallen, New Yorkers seemed eager to finally have a reason to celebrate, nearly a decade after almost 3,000 people were killed.

David Polyansky, 40, who rejoined the Marines after Sept. 11 and fought in Iraq, walked from his apartment a few blocks from Ground Zero with his chocolate Labrador retriever:

"I grabbed the dog and I said, 'we're going down,' " he said. "There's no better place in the country to be right now."

nathaniel.popper@latimes.com

Photos: Osama bin Laden dead

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