The very first time Jeff and I went to NYC together, we stopped by the World Trade Center. “Do you want to go up?” Nope. I hate heights. That was the first and last time I saw the building until it fell to the ground in September 2001 and took 2,606 people with it.
On Monday, I traveled to the 9-11 Memorial Museum. The Met houses paintings worth tens of millions, but the 9-11 Museum has TSA-level security, which is a fitting way to show how life has changed since then.
The entire thing is underground and covers much of the site of the original twin towers. You can see the original “slurry wall” built to contain the Hudson from the North Tower. There are pieces of steel twisted from the impact of Flight 11 with building, the carcass of a fire truck from Ladder Company 3 in the East Village, where all 11 firefighters reporting died, a broken ambulance, plane seatbelts, dusty shoes, and, curiously, an unbroken window.
Always a tough thing to enforce that requires constant nagging, photography is not allowed in the mausoleum-like interior spaces, which largely house some of the spectacular photographs of the day. You won’t want to linger long as there is a constant loop of TV footage from the day that made me feel ill. The only thing I wanted to capture in pixels was a fossil like lump called a composite. They are basically four or five floors of compressed material that remain un-excavated. It remained unexplained how many of them exist.
The space is open with no clear beginning and end, and those joining me on that hot Monday largely roamed in silence. The only point of levity were several walls of poster-sized New Yorker covers that really capture the zeitgeist of that year.