After Chelsea Bombing, Tourists Share Their Fears

by Emily Shire

On Monday, less than 48 hours after an explosion hit New York's Chelsea neighborhood and injured 29 people, any fears appeared to have dissipated, and instead were replaced by annoyance over street closures and rubber-necking. Considering New Yorkers took to Twitter as the bombing on 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue Saturday night hit the news to effectively tell the rest of the country to calm down, the atmosphere Monday wasn't surprising. But tourists visiting New York during the explosion had more mixed reactions.

Bustle spoke with visitors to the Big Apple from around the country and the globe who were staying near the site of the bombing and where a second explosive device was found.

Ben Airdrie, a 40-year-old father of three, is visiting from Melbourne, Australia. He's been staying with his family at the INNSIDE Hotel at 132 West 27th Street, which is almost directly across from where the second explosive device was located a few hours after the bombing. He and his family had been heading back to the hotel from Time Square on Saturday night when they discovered they couldn't make it back. The street was "completely blocked off, basically everywhere," Airdrie tells Bustle.

"We weren’t allowed to come in. We had our kids, so it was hard trying to find our accommodation," Airdrie tells Bustle. He says the family, which includes their children, aged 12, 10, and seven, "walked around the streets for probably four hours, trying to find new accommodation. But everything was booked out." Eventually, he says, they found another hotel that had room and the INNSIDE Hotel refunded them, even though the blockade "wasn't in their control."

Still, Airdrie says he was "pretty worried" the night of the bombing and that "the kids were in tears. They didn’t really want to come back."

Goretti Farrar is visiting from Ireland, staying at a hotel located near Madison Square Garden. While she was out getting food when the explosion occurred Saturday night, Farrar tells Bustle that her daughter, who was in the hotel, could hear it "because it was so quiet in the room ... and she said, 'Oh my god, that was a bomb.'"

However, Farrar says her first thought wasn't a bomb, and she didn't feel terribly afraid. "I wasn’t too concerned," she tells Bustle. "I thought it might have been a gas leak or something. I didn’t really know what was going on." When Bustle asks if the Chelsea bombing will deter her from coming back to New York City, Farrar responds, "Oh no, we’re from Ireland. We get bomb scares all the time."

Ron Davis and Bruce Bridges, who are visiting from Southern California for the Bark in the Park event at Citi Field on Wednesday, were staying on 24th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenue, just a block over from where the bomb went off Saturday. Davis tells Bustle that his window was open when the explosion occurred, and it "knocked me against my headboard."

"I knew right away what it was a bomb. I could smell it," Davis says. "Gunpowder came in the window soon as it blew up."

"Holy cow, you wouldn't believe it. Glass everywhere, bleeding people, people holding their ears," Bridges tells Bustle of the Saturday night aftermath.

Davis says he saw "12 to15 people were pretty bloody," but adds, "I’m a medic by training, so I didn’t think they were hurt too bad."

The two decided to get food, but then couldn't get back to the place they were staying. By their estimate, they waited an hour and a half before a police escorted them back into the building. "It was interesting," Bridges tells Bustle. "I mean, the time kind of flew by, because you’re like, 'Whoa, whoa. Look at all this stuff going on.' I had never seen so many police in my life."

Neither says that the bombing — nor being so close to it — will deter them from visiting New York City again.

"I just got back from a month and a half in Turkey. There were four bombings while I was there, including in the airport where I needed to leave," says Bridges. "I mean, this is gnarly. This is the closest I’ve ever been to anything. I don’t want to ever get this close to anything again. But that has nothing to do with New York. It’s just nutty everywhere."

Davis simply tells Bustle, "Stuff happens everywhere."

Images (6) Bustle/Rebecca Peeler