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The Twin Towers: a fresh perspective
This night shot of the towers reflecting off the waters of the Hudson River was taken from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, February 1973, and shows the structure completed, but some of the top floors still under construction.
Story and photos By Sid Burns
Well, it was 12 years ago that the Twin Towers in New York City came down, Sept. 11, 2001.
That definitely was a day to remember; some 3,000 souls went with the towers. Most of us will never forget it. It’s one of those events that burns that day into one’s memory banks forever; you will be doing something, see something, maybe even smell something, and immediately the “picture” will pop up in your mind.
That picture will be there forever.
I was not there that day, but like many people, I had turned on the television to get the morning news and the very first thing I saw was an airplane heading straight into the south tower. And again, like many, I thought it was a movie, until the announcer came on and started describing what was actually happening.
Now this particular situation had meaning to me. As a former United Press International photographer, I had covered a number of assignments in the tower restaurant. At one point in time, I had started taking pictures of the towers as they were being built. I considered them to be a photographic challenge, since all they were, were two square buildings rising 1,000-plus feet into the air -- no curves, no angles, just straight lines.
From that time, every time I was in the area or on an aerial assignment, I would explore all the possibilities to come up with a photo that was different and interesting. My “challenge” started in the early 1970s and ended in the early 1980s.
One of the last things I did was take pictures of the first group of people to go to the top of the south tower and show the magnificient view. We could see the north tower, with all of its communications paraphernalia. Looking beyond the tower, you could see the George Washington Bridge and beyond. I would estimate that we could see 25 miles or more from the top of the tower.
I am a “purist” photographer; I believe in using what is there, what is natural, and definitely not using any kind of manipulation to enhance a photo as you can do with digital photography.
And now for the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.
The new tower is completed on the outside and it does have some angles. I have not had the opportunity to take pictures of it as yet, but I intend to do that so I can add it to my book, Gone But Not Forgotten. This will complete the story of the World Trade Center, Twin Towers, the final chapter.
Sid Birns was a photographer with United Press International in New York City for 18 years. Now semi-retired, he splits his time between Florida and Montreal.
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