On the morning of September 11th, I was preparing to go for a run along the waterfront that passes the World Trade Center. There was a loud roar overhead of a low flying plane and then a muffled impact sound. I had NPR on the radio, their studio faces the WTC, and they announced an explosion at the building. I knew immediately it was that plane and went to my rooftop to see what had happened. When the second plane hit we were all convinced more were coming, it was terrifying and horrible to watch. The worst part was waiting for the second building to fall.
As the city was locked down into small zones, my neighborhood was in a cut off zone, so non-residents were not allowed in for many weeks. Soon after the attacks, I volunteered at the site for what I thought would be one day. That one day turned into 9 months, mostly overnights. I ran a canteen we called “The Hard Hat Café” which served coffee and only packaged foods due to the dust and debris (we were inside the red zone). Getting to know the police, dock builders, PAPD, NYPD, FDNY, (and many other acronyms!), ironworkers, etc. was so interesting and being able to help was very rewarding.
When workers and police at the site discovered I was a photographer, they asked me to photograph the recovery effort. Anyone with a camera at the site was arrested immediately, yet for some reason, I was allowed to shoot freely. I chose not to photograph any of the honor guards, nor have I profited from these images.
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