Wednesday, March 5, 2008

From the archive: thinking of the Twin Towers

I took this picture August 5, 1995. It was my first time visiting New York City. I was working in Maine that summer and had taken the bus down from Portland to meet my college friends Darren and Azalea, who were living in Pennsylvania and had driven their car into the city. In several hours we went everywhere from the top of the Empire State Building (our rendezvous point) up to International Center of Photography (back when it was at 94th and Fifth Avenue) and then down to Canal, where we had a nice meal. After that it was time for them to start heading back to Pennsylvania, but not before a nighttime drive around Lower Manhattan. We even went into Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge. I took this picture as we were driving down West Street to get a closer view of the World Trade Center.

I can't believe that was only six years before 9/11. And I can't believe more than six years have passed since 9/11. The six-year periods before and after 9/11, the bookends if you will, couldn't be more different from one another. Obviously I wish I had taken more pictures of the buildings in the thirteen months I lived here leading up to 9/11. After that day, every picture of the World Trade Center had a new significance. I remember combing through all my negatives in search of every picture I had taken of the towers, even pictures in which the towers weren't featured prominently. The picture above is one of my favorites, one that I paid very little attention to in 1995. I think it's the least "cookie cutter" out of all my WTC images: only one tower is visible, there's some motion blur, and of course the low-hanging clouds give it a kind of ominous feel.

I am a religious follower of the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan. I am fortunate to have worked once with the Times' David Dunlap, whose beat includes Ground Zero. I love that he covers not only the big issues, but also small details like this, this and this. I would like to hear his opinion on the current plan for Ground Zero. Personally, I was a fan of Norman Foster's proposal back in late 2002 or whenever it was when they had narrowed it down to several proposals from big-name architects. I liked Foster's proposal so much that I even made my own smaller replicas of his towers in order to truly understand their shape-shifting design. At right is a picture I took of a professional model that was on display in the Winter Garden, and beside it is a detail of a photo I shot of my model. I think one main reason Foster didn't get the nod was because he already had a building underway (the Hearst tower) that utilized a similar design. I am kind of iffy on the current version of the Freedom Tower, and anyone who hasn't seen it should take a look at this video. I'm definitely not crazy about any of the other three towers planned, and I wish they were all being designed by the same architect. But the skyline from afar does look kind of cool. Speaking of the skyline from afar, below is a picture I took the morning of August 9, 2000, as I was approaching the city during my "big move" to New York. I had driven a U-Haul from Michigan ten hours straight through the night and was glad to finally be arriving. Everybody has their moving to NYC story, and I'm glad I have a photo that includes the Twin Towers to tell mine.


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