Joel Meyerowitz (Ground Zero Photographer)

“I was watching millions of tonnes of ruined building disappearing before my eyes. The steel was literally melting away. All those wrecked stories on top of each other become a hole in the ground.”
“Meyerowitz photographed the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and was the only photographer allowed unrestricted access to its “ground zero” immediately following the attack.[9] A number of these images have since been made into a book, Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive.[10]”
“After 9/11”
Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive [Hardcover]
The Unbuilding

““The Pile,” as the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center were known among rescue workers in the aftermath of 9/11, was effectively off limits to the daily press. The Police Department treated the location as a crime scene and cordoned off the entire area; and with its hazardous topography of gnarled steel, to say nothing of potentially lethal invisible contaminants like carcinogenic fumes, the site was, in addition to so much else, unsafe.

But partly through connections — he was friendly with the father of Manhattan’s parks commissioner — and partly through persistence, the photographer Joel Meyerowitz, who grew up in the Bronx, gained continuous access to ground zero during almost nine months of the cleanup.”
“Early the next morning [12 September] I went down to the site, only to find that the whole area had been cordoned off with cyclone fencing draped with tarpaulins, above which one could see smoke rising in the distance. There wasn’t much to look at as I stood in the crowd on the corner of Chambers and Greenwich, about four blocks north of Ground Zero, but out of a lifetime of habit I raised my Leica to my eye, simply to get the feel of what was there. Whack! Someone behind me smacked me sharply on the shoulder. “No photographs, buddy, this is a crime scene!” I whipped around and found myself face to face with a female police officer. I was furious — both at being hit and the absurdity of the command. “Listen, this is a public space,” I replied. “Don’t tell me I can’t look through my camera!” But she came right back at me with “You give me trouble and I’ll take that camera away from you!” “No you won’t,” I said. “Suppose I was the press?” “The press? There’s the press,” she said, jerking a thumb over her shoulder at about a dozen TV cameramen and reporters, roped off by yellow police tape, halfway up the block. “When are they going in?” I asked. “Never,” she said. “I told you, this is a crime scene. No photography!”
– Joel Meyerowitz, “Aftermath – World Trade Center Archive”, p. 16

Joel Meyerowitz on photographing World Trade Towers and the aftermath (@1:15)
Joel Meyerowitz: ‘brilliant mistakes … amazing accidents’

“He started photographing there on 23 September 2001, when the heat from under the ground melted the soles of his boots. “I photographed everything 14 hours a day: the demolition crews, the construction crews, the first-aid crews, the debris removal crews, the intelligence squad, even the security guys who initially tried to keep me off the site.” The archive is a work of testimony that will enter not just the history of photography, but history itself.”
“Profile of the photography work of Joel Meyerowitz in his photography of the Ground Zero area of the devasted World Trade Center after the Septemer 11th 2001 terrorist attacks. Looks at how they form part of a project for the New York City Museum, and also includes interviews with various inhabitants of New York about the tragedy and how they have been affected by it.”

Reflections Of Ground Zero Part 1a

Reflections Of Ground Zero Part 1b

Reflections Of Ground Zero Part 2

“LEFT The South Tower, looking west. “The towers had been ‘hull and core’ buildings – hollow steel tubes constructed around massive central cores without the supporting beams that run through conventional structures. This design made the towers so tall – and explained why they fell so quickly. It was impossible not to feel one’s own fleshy vulnerability and it was easy to understand why there were few survivors. Even after nine months of searching and recovery, 1796 people would remain unaccounted for.”

“When I came across them, they were lying on the ground, reaching
into a bank vault that had fallen from a bank’s office in the North
Tower. They were pulling out fistfuls of money – yen, lira, pounds
and dollars. When they were done, the men stood for their portrait:
ten guys and $11 million. ”As they drove it away on a truck, one bag of money fell off the cart. By this time I had mortgaged my house and was struggling to fund the project. In a brief moment it flashed through my mind: ‘My funding!’ But I let out a New York taxi whistle that stopped them in their tracks.”

Meyerowitz on… THE CROSS
“The Cross was found by Frank Silecchia in the Customs House, a building that was nine stories tall and had the WTC fall on top of it, sheering steel girders as it went. In one case, a girder was clipped perfectly so that it formed a cross. “I saw Frank many times over the course of the year, because he worked mainly in one place on the site. He started as this big burly rough-looking construction guy, but he was humbled by finding
The Cross and having the instinct to bring it out. He told me he has
stopped drinking and is trying not to curse. He wasn’t the most articulate guy in the world when I met him, he was profane and a bit nasty, but he was trying to tell me he had undergone some kind of evolution. From then on, everytime I’d stop and talk to Frank, we would get into a conversation and within two minutes he’d be in tears.”
Why was Joel allowed to be at GZ yet the media and independent journalists were not?

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