Friday, September 11, 2009


I watched “102 minutes that changed America” on channel four-on-demand the other night. The documentary film comprises hundreds of pieces of footage and audiotape from ordinary people who directly experienced the awfulness of that day. Hugely evocative and it immediately took me back to being in the office of my architectural practice and being called by one of the staff who’d been watching CNN news at the time…. and viewing as the second plane struck the other tower. I recall going home and sitting transfixed by the television images long into the night as the world tried to come to terms with what had happened. Watching the film was agonising is so many ways: hearing the voices of the fire fighters on the 78th floor; the telephonist telling people to remain where they were and that help was on its way; seeing people standing below the towers and staring up in disbelief – when you knew that both towers were going to collapse and anyone left in their location would perish.
Ken+Steve+I were in New York some three weeks later (on a golf tour of New York State) and witnessed the aftermath for ourselves. The World Trade Centre site was still smouldering (although only the excavators were allowed anywhere near). Ken, a New Yorker himself (who had watched the erection of the twin towers as a young boy), was completely devastated as we viewed the site from a boat on the Hudson river. According to Ken at the time, New York seemed like a ghost town (although it still seemed pretty lively to me!) - people were understandably afraid to go back into the city after all that had happened. We were warmly welcomed by everyone we met - and we were able to eat in restaurants that previously would need to have been booked months in advance! I didn’t have a digital camera at the time…. perhaps I need to check out my old negatives again?
Ken+Debby+Gail+Ian+Moira+I went to New York in April 2006 and stayed only 300m or so from the World Trade Centre site in Manhattan. I found it almost impossible to relate the “normality” of what had become a construction site to the scenes of devastation watched on television on the day itself.

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