Some Projects Just Take Longer

This three-photograph project began unknowingly in 1999, as I was testing a new lens for my Minolta film camera. I drove to Jersey City, N.J. and decided to take some photographs of the old Central Railroad of NJ train terminal and of Lower Manhattan. The location was in Liberty State Park, not far from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It was a cloudless and hazy afternoon and the photographs, including the one just below were quickly relegated to an old slide tray.

20020413_WTC After DSC_1380 resized for triptych

Approximately two years later, on September 11, 2001 I was scheduled to meet a group of former colleagues in New York City at noon, and my Path train would have arrived below the World Trade Center at 11:15am. Needless to say, I never got on the train and with hundreds of millions of others, watched on TV the horror of that morning. After over 10 years of commuting into Manhattan or Jersey City, and taking for granted the magnificant NYC skyline dominated by the World Trade Center towers, I realized I had only one photograph of the Twin Towers, and it was taken on that day when I was casually shooting in and around the old train terminal in Liberty State Park.

Beginning on October 7th, 2001 I visited the site of the WTC and the surrounding area on numerous occasions to photograph the aftermath of 9/11.

After 9/11, I decided I wanted to try to go to the same location from 1999 and make a photograph of the same scene, but this time of a very different Manhattan skyline. So in April 2002, I went back to Jersey City and armed with a print of the first photograph, located as accurately as I could, the exact location from which I had taken that first photograph in 1999.

20020413_WTC After DSC_1380_CR_Transformed_Sized for Tryptych
Since 2002 a picture frame containing those two photographs has hung on my wall.

A dozen years later, in April 2014 I had a trip planned to NYC and decided, since the new Freedom Tower had finally been topped off, that it was time to add the third photograph to the set. Finding the shooting location was complicated even further by the change on the New Jersey shoreline where landfill had been added and a New Jersey 9/11 memorial had been built. But if you look carefully, you will notice a tiny green navigation buoy in the Hudson River that allowed me to precisely lineup the corner of the World Financial Center tower in all three photographs. I now had the final photograph of this 15 year project.


To me, these three photographs represent the resilience of hope of New York City.

Some projects last days, some months, and some take longer.

On my website I have a gallery named “Never Forget – Gone, But Not Forgotten.” You can view a group of the 9/11 photographs I have taken over the years, and that I exhibited beginning in September 2016, commemorating the 15th anniversary of 9/11/01.


6 thoughts on “Some Projects Just Take Longer”

  1. Hi, Alan:

    Wow, fascinating story. Kudos to you for your perseverance I’ve never shot the Manhattan skyline from that location, I’ll have to look into it. But thanks for the post, it was really interesting from several levels.

  2. Brilliant, poignant images, Alan. Glad you came across your original image when you did in time to allow you to embark on this project. I hope you write and submit an article to every NY magazine, newspaper, and related government agency. It’s a unique, personal, and powerful story well told in both words and pictures. Great job!

  3. What a wonderful story Alan….and a great way to use your photographic talent. The 3 images tell a story about our nation’s history as well as a very personal history for you, narrowly missing being there at the time. I hope you are able to publish this account and historical photos in print. Glad you thought about that original image and did the work to put this project together. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Alan,

    Very well done and thanks for sharing your thoughts along the process. A fine example of powerful story telling with nicely thought out images. Also good reminder for an efficient catalog system so we can find our older photos.

  5. Twenty years ago on September 10-11, my daughter celebrated her 33rd birthday, my mother-in-law passed away at the age of 92, and the 9-11 attacks occurred. It was a time of personal and national turmoil. I have struggled to bring it back into focus on this, the 20th anniversary of that terrible time. You images have recrystallized the moment for me. Thank you. Well done! – September 11, 2021

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