NEW YORK – They were drawn to New York because it seemed like the place to be: exciting, glamorous, powerful. It had everything to offer and was invincible.
But last week's attacks changed the face and feel of the Big Apple for many, at least temporarily. While most long-time residents have rallied around Gotham with a fierce sense of fidelity, the city's sparkle has faded for some tourists and newcomers.
"I don't feel as safe here anymore," said New York University freshman Jennie Michalos, 18, who had just moved into her Greenwich Village dorm from New Jersey a couple of weeks before the disaster. "I see it as more vulnerable. I never thought it would be able to be destroyed as much as it was."
Legal assistant Sam Hardy, 25, who lives in Cambridge, Mass., agreed. He was considering moving to New York in the spring. Sept. 11 changed that.
"Now it seems out of the question," he said. "New York is the capital of our world and just by virtue of that, it's a bull's eye."
He said he used to think of New York as a city with the best of everything. Now, he also sees it as a prime target for terrorism.
"I don't know how long it would be before I'd be comfortable living there," he said. "I think it would be years."
Some say they actually see New York in a more positive light since the tragedies because of the way its residents have reacted.
"It has changed my image of New York, but it's changed it for the better to see how people have come together and supported each other," said recent tourist Susan Aspey, an employee of the governor of Pennsylvania.
Aspey visited Manhattan for the first time in May – and visited the top of the World Trade Center during her stay. She said the attacks won't keep her from coming back again.
Another new face to the city, NYU freshman Sonia Tasbas from Rochester, N.Y., said the disaster has given her an instant sense of belonging.
"I thought it was a colder place when I first got here," the 18-year-old said. "Since the catastrophe, we're more of a community. We've gone through something, and now we're better friends."
Others say the attacks haven't influenced their image of New York or their sense of security.
"It doesn't seem more dangerous than before last Tuesday," said Karin Van Der Tak, 30, a new NYU graduate student in Near Eastern studies who recently moved from London. "I don't think it's affected my view in that respect."
Although New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has encouraged tourists to come to the city, some are choosing to stay away for now. Baltimore resident Kate Perlin, 30, intended to visit with her husband for a weekend this fall. Not anymore.
"It most definitely is not in the plans now," she said. "We were going to try to have a fun, celebratory weekend. I don't think I could come to New York City and be in the midst of all that devastation and have a fun, celebratory weekend."
Perlin has memories of her visit to Manhattan last year – and is struck by how much her image of New York has changed since Tuesday Sept. 11.
"I remember how vibrant and alive the city was," she said. "It's a sad and somber place now. I hope it can get back some of the brilliance it had. But it will never be the same."