New York City: The World Trade Center 1999

Twin Towers

I must have been sitting there for an hour. I wasn’t used to walking that much. When you go to New York all you do is walk. You walk from Times Square to Central Park to Soho to Columbus Circle. I was there for the second time to explore and photograph. My first trip was in 1998. That was with Sam and a couple of friends. Our friend worked for the Skywest airlines. She got some buddy passes for us and we flew standby. 

Red-eye flights were a new thing to me. I’m tall; 6’3″. On a flight my knees hit the back of the seat in front of me. My head is well above the head rest so my neck is always compromised on flights. I didn’t sleep for one minute. My buddy, Christian, is tall too I looked back at him at 4AM and he was fully awake looking straight ahead in trance while his wife was cozy’d up on her chair asleep. This was well before the ipod thing and laptop computers were too expensive to reasonably purchase for a college student. We made the flight sans technology. Can you believe it? How did we do it? 

Our friends warned us about checking luggage on a flight, how risky it was. I didn’t care. I brought three huge suitcases and a large cardboard box along with me. The box contained blankets, pillows and an air mattress. We were going to stay with Tom and his wife who had just moved to Brooklyn a couple of weeks earlier. I wasn’t sure about their bedding situation so I brought my own bedding situation. I had to kick that box into the back seat of our Honda Civic to get it to the airport. Christian laughed at me when he saw the box and the suitcases. I looked like a refuge. Sam was laughing uncontrollably when she saw the box tumble-down the baggage claim all marked up and crushed. It had made it and so did our suitcases. Christian had to check a small suitcase and the airline lost it. 

Tom and his wife were fresh city-dwellers. They lived in Brooklyn close to a N-R line station. Their apartment was above a “candy store”.  The “candy store” didn’t sell much candy. What they had was a lot of late-nite meetings and noise. Just before we’d gotten there, Tom had found a mattress on the street for Christian and Jill to use on the floor. I gladly pulled a couple of blankets out of my bedding box for them to use. I was so thankful for my air mattress. We all slept soundly to the sounds of trucks thundering down the avenue all night next to their apartment. 

There are so many stories from this one trip…Back to the twin towers. 

Sam didn’t come with me on this trip. Christian and Jill joined me a couple of days into it. I was hired by my Dad’s company to get images for their new office space. 

September is a gorgeous month in New York. It was September 1999 and after a long day of shooting and walking I was slumpt down on the sidewalk across from the world trade center watching the lights come on in the towers. I shot a photograph every few minutes. 

Two years later on a cool September morning Sam and I got a phone call from my crying Mother 

“Are you watching this?” 

“Watching what?” 

“Turn your T.V. on” 

What can you say about watching the events of September 11th, 2001? I had an early portrait sitting that I had to get to. I photographed a couple of high school seniors in downtown Boise. I can’t believe I didn’t reschedule the sitting. Our two young kids ages 3 and 1 had nightmares for a couple of weeks after the attack. 

I can’t believe it’s been nearly nine years. I haven’t been back to New York. 

I struggled writing the line about September 11th. It started like this: Watching the events of September 11th, 2001 was ______. 

Can anyone help out with the right word to finish that sentence?


  1. Many words that accurately describe that day do sound cliche. Here’s my stab at it: Watching the events of September 11, 2001 felt apocaliptic.

  2. I feel sad that my knee-jerk response is so cynical. Watching the events of September 11, 2001 only temporarily halted our collective slide into the superficial and banal.

  3. I was on those towers in June 2000. Watching the events of September 11, 2001 was devastating, unbelievable and heart-wrenching. I stayed home all day watching the news. BTW…@Barb…great word to describe it!

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