Joel Meyerowitz's World Trade Center Archive

What happened at Ground Zero in the months after 9/11 remained a closely guarded secret. But one photographer documented everything - here is his record of that time.
Share

1 / 24

2 / 24

3 / 24

Joel Meyerowitz, Ironworkers (Fall 2001)

4 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Ironworkers (Fall 2001)

Joel Meyerowitz, An NYPD rescue worker (l) and Building 4 on Church Street (r) (Fall 2001)

5 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, An NYPD rescue worker (l) and Building 4 on Church Street (r) (Fall 2001)

6 / 24

7 / 24

8 / 24

"I don't know whether it was the crack of the cables snapping that disturbed them, or pure chance

9 / 24 "I don't know whether it was the crack of the cables snapping that disturbed them, or pure chance

Joel Meyerowitz, Spray-painted signage on Albany Street (Fall 2001)

10 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Spray-painted signage on Albany Street (Fall 2001)

Joel Meyerowitz, Wash stations on the corner of Fulton and Church (Fall 2001)

11 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Wash stations on the corner of Fulton and Church (Fall 2001)

Joel Meyerowitz, Handmade banners on the fence of St. Paul's Chapel (Fall 2001)

12 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Handmade banners on the fence of St. Paul's Chapel (Fall 2001)

Joel Meyerowitz, Handmade banners on the fence of St. Paul's Chapel (Fall 2001)

13 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Handmade banners on the fence of St. Paul's Chapel (Fall 2001)

14 / 24

Joel Meyerowitz, Inside the pile, looking west (Fall 2001)

15 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Inside the pile, looking west (Fall 2001)

16 / 24

17 / 24

Joel Meyerowitz, An FDNY Command Post on West Street (Fall 2001)

18 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, An FDNY Command Post on West Street (Fall 2001)

Joel Meyerowitz, Objects found in the sifted debris (Winter 2001)

19 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Objects found in the sifted debris (Winter 2001)

20 / 24

Joel Meyerowitz, Group portrait of the raking teams (Spring 2002)

21 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Group portrait of the raking teams (Spring 2002)

22 / 24

Joel Meyerowitz, Signing the last column (Spring 2002)

23 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Signing the last column (Spring 2002)

Joel Meyerowitz, Grass growing among the leftover debris on the PATH train tracks (Spring 2002)

24 / 24 Joel Meyerowitz, Grass growing among the leftover debris on the PATH train tracks (Spring 2002)


"There were small knots of men everywhere on the site - waiting for heavy machinery to pass at a crossing, or hanging around next to the raking fields, or standing by a makeshift shrine - and many of them were eager to tell you what had happened to them, or what they were thinking, or how they were feeling."

- Joel Meyerowitz on his experience photographing the destruction caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center.

This extraordinary archive of pictures is the only existing photographic record of Ground Zero after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001. Fenced off and classified as a crime scene, the area was closed to all photographers, and only scant information was available about the activites in the guarded enclosure that became known as the "forbidden city."

Through sheer persistence involving almost daily acts of resourcefulness and defiance, Meyerowitz became the sole photographer to have continued access to the site and describe its transformation over the next nine months from a place of total devastation to cleared bedrock.

The photographs serve not only as an elegy to the thousands who lost their lives, but also celebrate the tireless effort and bravery of the thousands of police officers, fire fighters, construction workers, engineers and volunteers who assisted in the clean-up process. Images of physical ruin and emotional strength place on the record the moments of courage, compassion and solidarity that occurred there.

 

Watch Joel Meyerwitz describe photographing Ground Zero




ABOUT PHAIDON

Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more