September 11th, 2001 is one of those days that, for the rest of their lives, many people will remember where they were and what they were doing as its events unfolded. My generation’s equivalent to the assassination of JFK, or man walking on the moon, eight years after events that changed New York, and far beyond, 9/11 as it has become known will be recalled around the world today. To mark this anniversary, I decided to post this photograph of a photograph that I took from the roof of the World Trade Centre just 6 months before it was no more.
I will always associate 9/11 with the Mercury Music Prize, because that is what Sky News were reporting on when they interrupted to bring breaking news of a plane having hit the World Trade Centre in New York. I was having lunch at home that day for some reason, and just happened to be watching Sky News at that moment. Sky quickly found themselves someone from the aviation industry and were speculating on whether it was an accident or a terrorist attack. The general consensus was that it was probably a light aircraft involved in a tragic accident. As they fed a live feed from Fox News, and as I watched, an airplane entered the frame, flew behind the towers, and quite unexpectedly exploded through the second tower. Given the time of day here, the fact that RTE and BBC had yet to pick up the story, and the fact that this was pre-Twitter and other online breaking news outlets, I suspect I am one of relatively small number of people in Ireland who saw that second plane hit in real time. It was the most shocking and unbelievable thing I had ever seen, but would remain so only for about another 90 minutes. By the time the first tower fell, I was back in the office and we were all assembled around a PC watching a dodgy online stream of the events as they unfolded.
Six months earlier Aoife and I had visited New York, and had taken the elevator to the roof of the World Trade Center to take in the views. A few nights earlier we had seen New York by night from the Empire State building. On this occasion we viewed it by day, and later completed our sightseeing with a trip to the Statue of Liberty. I had purchased a camcorder the day before we visited the World Trade Center and so had that with me. I still have the footage of the lift, the walk around the top floor, and the views from the roof, and I also have a handful of photographs I took with my Kodak compact camera.
They are film shots of course, and are now stored as prints in an album, but to post one here I took a photograph of one of those photographs – this showing the view from the roof. The quality isn’t the best, but you can see how these buildings towered above and dominated New York’s skyline, in the same way that their story will, for generations to come, dominate New York’s history.