Note: Click any image here for a clear, large version. All images will open into a new window. To continue, just close the new window. Smaller monitors may require some scrolling to view the whole image. 256 color systems may display posterized colors in skies and other places -- use thousands or millions of colors if possible. All full-sized images are larger than usual jpegs (>10", ca. 100 megs each), as no smaller size can do justice to this event, one which will loom as the lowest nadir of perfidious human evil. To quote FDR from 60 years ago, this truly is "a day which will live in infamy."
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7- Shards and Rubble
If one picture could capture it all that afternoon, this particular moment does it for me. The jagged metal shards are one block from my camera, while near me is temporary fence, with a gate manned by military personnel wearing a breathing filter mask. This man has his back to a white lettered sign that says "keep back", just below another in bright cyan which reads: NYC POLICE. There are bottles of drinking water on the sidewalk, a red bucket for cleanup, a wireframe rubbish basket beside that, and a dump truck waits patiently to the right.
This Image Says It All
Other twisted metal juts into the frame from a smaller wrecked building to the right, while another even taller fragment of at least a dozen stories from 2 WTC forms the left background, at least double the height of the central piece. And finally, most distant is the damaged but still standing building of Two World Financial Center, half hidden by the bluish haze and smoke.
Note that these aluminum facing sections are a few stories tall, as this view is down Cortland Street for one city block. The scale is misleading with the fence in front rather close to me as I took this with a moderately long lens. The large sections broke off and crashed down into the plaza below to become imbedded into the twisted girders, concrete, and other pulverized material already there. There they rested, like the giant stone heads on Easter Island, as much below grade level as you can see above it.
Liberty Street Plaza
One block further south I reached Liberty Street, and with it, Liberty Street Plaza. This cross street forms the southern border for the WTC Plaza, or did until one week and one day earlier. Now it provides this open vantage point, looking roughly due West, perhaps the best available to pedestrians walking on Broadway. That's the still standing tower of Three World Financial Center just right of center, and Two WFC to the left of center. Three has a tetrahedral pyramid for a roof, Two has truncated hemispherical dome. Both show a blue-green patina on their copper surfaces. Further south lies the shorter One WFC, but it's blocked here by closer buildings situated along Liberty Street. There are several enormous cranes like the yellow one in the middle of things here, helping to clear the debris. Until the really lowest levels are reached the subterranean fires will continue to smolder away, producing most of the nasty bluish haze we can see here.
Close-up of Dust and Debris
I continued to walk even further south, down well below Trinity Church, a famous NYC landmark which marks the western edge of Wall Street, heart of the financial center and stock market. There was nothing else to see of the terrorist carnage, although a modest view from Battery Park might have been interesting. Instead, I decided to turn around and see if I would be permitted to see the damage from the north of the site. So I retraced my steps. Across from City Hall are many stores that are temporarily closed. I noticed that on the marble window frames and ledges of one of them the omnipresent dust could be studied at close hand, and took this cu shot of it.
This is all that remains of concrete and gypsum board "sheet rock" and the other building materials, after tons of high speed falling, scorchingly hot and massive weight has baked and crushed it into oblivion. It's grisly to realize there are undoubtedly molecules of desks, equipment like computers and telephones, and also people, cremated into ash, within this mixture. Remember what I pointed out about Entropy? Well, this is a real-life example of that, all form and distinction and life turned into uniform ... what? ... uniform oblivion, uniform nothingness, all that is left, nihilism. I cried when I realized just what I was looking at.
Study In Blues And Gray:
Dust Covered Catalogs
At the same block are several of one of my favorite stores for music and audio / video / computer equipment: J&R Music. Their stores were still closed this afternoon, the gates were down. And then I saw it: the spot where you can pick up copies of their current catalog along several shelves. Something made me want a cu photo of this, a still life of mundane objects now covered in the debris of the attacks. When I got home and began downloading the images into my trusty computer, this one stood out. It looks like many I've seen in photo magazines over the years, and I don't think it compares too poorly with others I've seen.
Except THAT isn't true at all -- this one has an overlay, pun intended, from an outrageous event. That's not a long passage of time there you see depicted by the gray powder covering the pages and holders and metal gates. This happened in a few minutes, not years. Even several rainy days was not enough to wash the evidence away, evidence of willful murder and destruction, of hatred run amok. It is very difficult to stop someone who cares not if he is maimed or dies "for his cause." Put together several such "warriors" trained from youth to identify with hatred, add money and time and perverted intelligence, and here you can witness the results. This is how fundamentalist religious fervor and cultural conditioning can impel madmen to behave.
This photo may not say "Beware" as immediately as the skull and crossbones of a Jolly Roger. It may take a moment to contemplate the tale encoded there, but in addition to the top photo of this text block, it says it all for me. It's the other side of the coin from those deeply moving images many of us shared in our new weeping places, the shrines to loves lost and lives destroyed.
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8- Views From the North
We were heading north, about to turn west. On the way across City Hall Park I couldn't help but to wince to see two military police vehicles and guards, something you'd NEVER stumble upon in normal conditions at this location, except, perhaps, in a parade. But this was no parade, no normal conditions.
Military Vehicles Near City Hall
Past that intersection, and along the top cross street of City Hall Park I found a few blocks not closed. Chambers Street seemed a good choice, and eventually Reade and then Duane Street were necessary route adjustments, before I could continue west.
View South on Greenwich
Finally I reached Greenwich Street, near Duane Street. Greenwich is the main location for the major television news coverage of the WTC attack. There were equipment trucks and satellite dishes lining the west side of this north-south major artery of Greenwich Village. The police were much more demanding here, insisting we all move on right away, keep to the east sidewalk. But from that location you couldn't see much. I walked further north to Thomas. There one was allowed to cross the street quickly, which I did and took the above photo. Since even the longest lens setting doesn't quite do justice to this astonishing scene, let me enlarge the central portion further. Below is about a 4x (area) magnification.
Enlarged View on Greenwich
What was most appalling to me is the height of the debris. It's a mind-numbing immense pile you see here. Look at how it towers over the heads of the pedestrians and workers in front of it, reaching around the fifth or sixth story of the nearby buildings? That really is astonishing, very unlike images from the end of WW II that other views of the debris conjured up. This represents a much greater scale, of height and density. These were BIG buildings! Yet we're looking mainly at the remains of one of the shorter structures from this angle, 6 WTC, which lies just north of big tower of 1 WTC. Now they lie together, rubble mixed with rubble, or as my dear bright friend, Laurie, punningly put it: "Rubble Without a Cause" She lives down here, and saw the whole thing as it happened (woken by the sound of the first low flying jet just before the crash), her neighborhood crumbling in front of her eyes. Horrible, just horrible. So I think she's permitted a bit of "gallows humor" at a time like this.
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