Manual Twin Towers Remembered

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It is very eerie, yet very melancholic; it is not about the attacks, but it's an ode to the day before. I experienced loss at a very early age when my father suddenly died in an accident; that not only shaped my life and work but gave me so much perspective. I believe it also gave me a strong sense of purpose; that is why I went off to live my life as fully and to experience as much as I could in order to find my own voice. When I think of what happened 10 years ago, I feel that taken out of context it was a big event, but seeing it in the map of my entire life it is part of the daily transformation I am committed to.

It did make me question and asserted my compromise with being an artist and how I just serve as vehicle for it. Honestly, I never felt I was close to death that day, on the contrary it made me feel so close to life. Mike Horan says the date stamped on this photo, which he posed for less than 24 hours before the Twin Towers fell, transforms an otherwise unremarkable holiday snap. Mike Horan stands in front of the New York skyline on September 10, September 10 , was just another enjoyable day of an eventful trip that my girlfriend and I made to New York that year. We had travelled from Limerick, Ireland to visit my sister who was living in Manhattan with her fiance.

While there we spontaneously decided to get married and tied the knot in NY City Hall on September 7. I guess the remaining days of our holiday could have been considered as our honeymoon. As the ferry made its way across the Upper New York Bay I recall the excellent view of the Downtown skyline and the unique perspective you get from the bay. The towers were the dominant feature and five days earlier we were at the top looking down at the ferry I was on now.

As our tour of the immigration museum drew to an end we visited the American Immigrant Wall of Honour to search for family names. This area of the museum overlooks the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline. I asked my now-wife to take a photograph of me with the skyline in the background. The time of the photo was approximately 5: We had borrowed the camera and I was unfamiliar with the settings so it was only when we returned home to Ireland and had the photos developed that we realised the date settings had been switched on and all the snaps of our New York visit contained the date within the picture.

The date, which is not in the American format, uniquely transforms this otherwise unremarkable holiday snap. When I showed my holiday photos to friends and family it was this picture that received the greatest reaction purely because of the presence of the date, which gives it a sense of eeriness due to the impending carnage that was soon to follow. I think the date has the appearance of a timer counting down the dying moments of an old world since replaced by the tense and paranoid world we live in today. Q Tell me about your experiences on September 11, On the morning of September 11, my sister and her fiance had gotten up early to go to work.

Unlike me and my wife and another couple who were staying in the apartment, they, sensibly, had not been sampling cocktails in a nearby bar until the early hours. I remember waking up to the sound of drilling from a nearby construction site and looking up at the window out to a clear blue sky, feeling glad about the weather but sorry about my pounding head. The phone started ringing in the next room and I just lay there hoping someone else would get up to answer it.

Finally it stopped ringing and the answering machine clicked in; I could hear my sister saying with great urgency, "if you are there, go and look at the TV, quick". My wife and I stumbled out of bed and woke up the other couple who happened to be sleeping on a sofa bed in front of the TV. It was just before 9am when we switched on the news channel and we could see a picture of one of the Twin Towers with smoke bellowing from the top floors.

My first thought was that perhaps a light aircraft had crashed into the tower. However, moments later we saw another explosion from the other tower which we all greeted with an array of expletives and from that moment on everything became surreal. All four of us just sat there in our nightclothes staring as events unfolded before us live on TV; we were unable to comprehend that these catastrophic events were occurring just four miles away. Various phone calls from my sister followed as she could see everything from the window of her midtown office. My sister's fiance called from his office in Connecticut to say that we should remain where we were and that there were rumours that more planes were heading for other iconic buildings, including the United Nations building.

The apartment we were in was on 51st St, off 1st Ave, and just four blocks away from the UN building. Following his call, news filtered in that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. I thought that if we need to run away from a disaster scene we should at least be wearing shoes, so I suggested that we all get our shoes on. It seems weird that amidst all the chaos I was concerned about our lack of footwear. We continued to watch events on the TV, anxiously listening to see if we would need to evacuate.

Watching the towers collapse was horrific as we knew the casualty numbers would be astronomical. I remember looking at her and thinking, "are you for real? On the footpaths coming from the direction of downtown Manhattan we began to see thousands of workers walking towards us, many heading for the Queensboro Bridge in a scene of what can only be described as mass evacuation.


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You could virtually hear a pin drop as they all marched past totally bewildered. Even though there were several hospitals nearby the ambulance activity was remarkably low, which made me think that perhaps there were no injured, just dead. US jet fighters sporadically began flying over the streets, adding to the dreamlike atmosphere and giving a feeling we were under siege.

We went to one hospital to give blood; a large crowd had gathered for the same reason but we were told they were only looking for blood from US nationals. We then went to a nearby pub where we had arranged to meet my sister. The pub was full of people who had been evacuated from downtown, many of whom were unable to get home. It was quite a relaxed atmosphere as people drank and talked about the events of the day, but I got a sense that the enormity and reality of what had occurred had not yet kicked in.

As the evening wore on the streets began to look empty, the buzz of Manhattan had been temporarily extinguished. I wondered what had happened to the driver and prayed that he was okay. When people ask where you were on September 11th and I tell them I was there in Manhattan they are intrigued and want to know my story. But just like them and most people in the world I saw it unfold on TV and to this day the actual event still seems unreal. I'll never forget the posters of the missing people that started to appear all over the city and friends and families gathering outside hospitals hoping to find their loved ones safe - tragically mostly in vain.

I witnessed empty, ghostly Manhattan streets the day after and when people did eventually return to work it was not uncommon to see people fleeing office blocks based on rumours of bomb scares. A justified sense of fear had started, which lasts to this day worldwide. Down at Union Square, the closest you could get to Ground Zero, a large crowd gathered in silence around a shrine of floral wreaths, US flags and photos of the missing.

There was a great dignity among the people there as they lit candles to remember the fallen. I saw that the immediate reaction of New Yorkers was not of revenge and retribution but a real, tough fighting spirit and a determination to get their city back in business and show the world they cannot be beaten.

Since the event I have become more educated on the motives behind the attack, which I suppose was the primary objective of the terrorists, to highlight their cause to the world in the most spectacular way imaginable. I feel a whole generation has failed their children, which seems to be a recurring theme throughout history. I hope that their generation can buck the trend and put it right. Peter Howard snapped this image of the World Trade Centre from a bus tour on the morning of September 10; he says he still can't watch footage of the next day's attacks.

We were visiting New York City on a house trade with a friend that week to visit my daughter and check out the city. We took a city bus tour on September 10 which went under and around the Twin Towers.

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On the morning of September 11, I was drinking coffee and getting ready to take the subway to an electronics store about a block from the Twin Towers. Then the TV broke in with news that a small plane had apparently hit one of the towers; from then on the story unfolded.

9/11: 15 years later

As things got worse I thought it might be a good idea to stock up on food, so I went to a nearby deli for potato salad, cold cuts etc. It might sound stupid but hours later the place had sold out of most everything. I called my daughter and she and a friend walked from work near the towers to our borrowed condo on 56th Street on West Side.

The Red Cross headquarters was near our condo; there were calls for blood, but having by then watched the two towers collapse I knew and said they wouldn't be needing much blood. One of the fire houses that lost I think 14 men was nearby. By day two flowers and messages started appearing at the fire station.

Days later the candles, flowers and messages spilled out and down the street. Food and drinks donated to the Red Cross were piled up on the sidewalk around their building, I remember chocolate chip cookies donated by kids. I was not happy about flying out on Friday; my brother made train reservations for me but we decided we just wanted to get home so we flew after all.

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Twin Towers Remembered: A Selection of Camilo José Vergara’s Photographs

I'm not a heroic type, but I've pretty much decided if I was on a plane being hijacked I'd rush the bad guys and chew their necks. The pictures of the planes hitting the towers, particularly in the first few years, showed on TV thousands of times I can't look at them. Jerico Dig Cabaysa says he does not even remember posing for this photo on September 10; he flew back to LA at 11pm that night. This was my first visit to New York and I loved it. I was about a year removed from college and was exploring moving out there. Specifically that day, we walked around Battery Park for the first time and this was my first real urge to see the Twin Towers.

My friend who lived in NY encouraged me to stay an extra day or even an extra few hours to go to the top. Turning the camera to follow the plane, Jules taped one of only three known recordings of the first plane hitting the North Tower Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, the others being a video shot by Pavel Hlava and a sequence of still frames taken by Wolfgang Staehle. The firefighters, under the direction of Chief Pfeifer, were the first responders on the scene, and Jules was allowed to follow the chief during the attempted rescue operation.

The film gives various firemen's accounts of the events of the remainder of the day - from the initial crash to the building's collapse to the attempts to rescue survivors from the rubble - as well as the aftermath of the events and those who were lost, including Chief Pfeifer's brother, Engine 33 Lieutenant Kevin Pfeifer.

The Firehouse on Duane Street. We sat there and had coffee with the Ground Zero workers. It was beautiful and sad. Later that day we searched for the firehouse on Duane Street.

The World Trade Center Remembered

Lindsay saw the flag as we passed Duane Street in Lower Manhattan. We all ran toward the flag. The doors were closed. I sat on the curb and sobbed. The firefighters helped the children into the firetrucks. They were humble, kind and clearly overwhelmed with the attention. Off to my left, I could see the Naudets and director James Hanlon, hanging out in the kitchen of the firehouse. In , there were new faces in the firehouse.

The firefighters featured in the documentary had moved on or retired. But in the tradition of patience and kindness, the new crew welcomed us into their station. My children were nine years older and graduated from college. We took more photos with the firetrucks.

For years we have sent lollipops and messages to the Duane Street Station. Interest in the people killed, the rescue workers, and the long-term significance of the tragedy is understandable. But why the visceral fascination with the skyscrapers themselves? Sears Tower in Chicago soon took the title, but the World Trade Center towers continued to awe people because of their sheer volume, not just their height. If you took the entire square footage of the Empire State Building — all stories of it — it would not have filled the sub-basements of the two Twin Towers!

We think of the towers as looming aluminum and glass stalks into the sky, but they were also close to being cities unto themselves. Still, skeptical New Yorkers, who generally brag on their city as the biggest and the best, were slow to warm to their new twin peaks. Architectural scolds said they were too big, too boxy, an imposition on the skyline, too far from the action in Midtown, and disrespectful of the revered Empire State Building. And animal lovers were aghast because migrating birds kept bashing into the towers.

They loved to snap photos of the sun, and even moonlight, on the shiny towers at various times of day. Angus Gillespie told me even workaholics who labored in the buildings found serenity, high in these twin aeries. Looking at the North Tower's roof, with other Manhattan skyscrapers looking minuscule in the distance. As you stood on the th floor of either building, and you looked down, you could see the hustle and bustle of the taxicabs and the buses, darting in and out.

It was like floating in a cloud, high above all the noise and confusion at street level. The World Trade Center was the brainchild of billionaire David Rockefeller , who had put a resplendent bank building in Lower Manhattan and wanted something grand to go with it — something to dress up a financial district filled with decaying old buildings. Eric Darton, a lecturer at New York University, who also wrote a book about the World Trade Center, told me the idea that the Twin Towers somehow represented the resilience of Americans after that first attack was multiplied after the ruinous and murderous assaults eight years later.

I had no idea until the towers fell that so many people — so many people around the world — had invested so much, psychologically, in these emblems.


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And had to really feel our way through the next year — feel what it was like to be in this new world where two immense symbols of domination can simply crumble. This horrific situation provided us with an opportunity to really reflect on our culture, and on our culture of cities in particular. It was the most money ever spent on a piece of New York City property. Eric Darton told me he understood this figurative shaking of a fist at our enemies. He said he ran into people who carried his book around for some kind of comfort. In some cases, people holding it in their hand is the closest thing to a material piece of the World Trade Center.

I had simply been thinking of myself as a storyteller. I really believe that a time when people and structures are being torn apart, it is narratives and stories that hold us together. That feeling persists a decade later.


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  8. That number of feet is not arbitrary. But the bulk of the building — which will taper into eight tall isosceles triangles, forming an octagon at its center — will be set farther away from Wall Street, to minimize the chance that it could be the target of future attacks from the air. More symbolism, by design. From there, an illuminated spire containing a television antenna will rise to the 1,foot summit. When it's finished two years hence, a World Trade Center tower will again be America's tallest building.

    Like many other Americans, Carol and I have deliberately traveled to New York — at least once a year in our case — and stayed at the Hilton Millennium Hotel.