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Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/11 - My Pictures

I lived in the City from 1997 til January 2002, for 2 yrs at Houston and 6th, and two yrs in pre-gentrified Park Slope, Berkeley Place. On 9/11 I was working as a freelance construction manager on the punchlist at the then new Scholastic headquarters on Broadway. I was up in the glass eating space on the 11th floor when the first plane, then unbelievably enough, the 2nd plane hit the Towers. We were about 10 blocks away and you start to forget all the uncertainty those events bred - like should we get the heck out of the building we were in?

The details I remember best are all the ambulances - lined up for blocks - with no one to transport. All the blood donation lines of giving people that were not required. The dust in Brooklyn. Walking home with thousands of others over the Brooklyn Bridge. Being worried about riding on the subways. Seeing a woman at breakfast the next morning duck, then cry, as a plane flew overhead.

The next day, as the dust was landing in Brooklyn, I made my way to the site, when security was still light, and took these pictures. The pictures have never been published and have just sat in my photo archives - I guess I'm not sure why, but now it feels ok to put them out there.

I believe you can click on the photos to enlarge them, with helps with some of the subtly, like below where advertising says - Choose Success -

I think the scenes that captured the life before the attack - the still lifes of gym equipment and billboards - they remained static although the world had changed.

And all the unfiltered unabashed earnestness that existed for a few months.
I made my way down to the site and helped with the bucket lines, but eventually wondered off with a first wave digital camera that maybe held 20 or 30 photos and pushed the boundaries of my courage. On the day after, you had no idea which buildings were still yet to tumble. I explored what I think was the World Financial Building - a very tall building, with no one inside, that could collapse at any time, with alarms going off wildly.

I think the building behind was Building 7 that came down the next day while I was having a beer on 51 street at an Irish Pub.

The folder for directions to a Country Club.

A gym.

A clothing store - ghostly.

This seemed to be on the 2nd floor, where the firefighters and first responders found a little rest.

This is the scene of a kitchen in the buildings adjacent to the collapse, where life's routine suddenly stopped - the staff was in the middle of fixing veggie and chicken wraps.

Just an average breakfast bar, abandoned.

Disaster Art.

These were the bucket lines where thousands of men lined up and bucket by bucket tried to unearth their friends and co-workers. For the most part, these scenes of effort were futile.

This is from deep inside an adjacent building with electric wires, phone cords, ceiling panels and the like. It was unclear whether collapse was possible and or imminent.

Trinity Church covered with the debris.

A firetruck and its inhabitants buried.
The bucket lines, abandoned, as the whistles blew of imminent building collapse. Thousands of men would run for cover in a direction of unknown consequence. And just the buckets remained.

Tired, disheartened firefighters.

This pic below captures the scale of events.

And this was carved into the dust on a window at the site- a quick, spontaneous, early tribute to missing firemen. And the many quests to express the horror was a defining moment of the event to me.

So, I lost my job due to the uncertainty (why continue with construction when the world was ending), I had just bought a $22,000 shack with no heat/electric/plumbing in Sullivan Country (but no car to get there), and my lease was coming due.
Goodbye Manhattan - hello countryside. And now we have built close to 50 new homes for those New Yorkers looking for some country respite from it all.

1 comment:

  1. Some great/terrible photos. Perhaps you should consider submitting them to www.national-911memorial.org. Just read an article in today's paper that this organization is looking for both photos and video to add to their archive.