When I was a kid, I watched the World Trade Center in New York City being built. I could see it from my Queens rooftop. Armed with a pair of good binoculars, I could catch all the action, and it amazed me to see those two glass and steel marvels rising against the sky.
Of course, the World Trade Center's birth came from a death of the neighborhood that was annihilated when it was built. I do not recall the area because I was too young (ground was broken for the buildings in 1966), but my father well remembers that streets were shut down and over a hundred buildings demolished to make room for the 16-acre site. He even recalls buying a watch in one of the stores that were leveled. Shops, businesses, and apartments were eliminated to accommodate the massive project. The death of a little neighborhood in the big city occurred in order to spawn a complex with the largest buildings in the world (at least for a short time until Sears Tower in Chicago opened in 1974).
The World Trade Center rose in my childhood and dominated my thinking about the city I loved as I became a man. While I had been to the top of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, nothing seemed to compare to visiting the Twin Towers or "the Trades" as some people called them. Being in my nascent photographer stage, I took all sorts of pictures of the Twin Towers once they were completed. Sadly, like the buildings captured in those shots, those photographs no longer exist.
The two iconic towers could be seen from almost anywhere in this town, and they immediately became the recognizable symbol of New York City all over the world. Tourists flocked to visit the observatory, take pictures of the cityscape that flowed all around it, and dine in the premier restaurant Windows on the World. After visiting the top of one of the buildings, there was a feeling that you had touched, if not heaven, the closest thing to it in the sky.
I, like so many New Yorkers and citizens of this nation and the world, was left devastated by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Arguably, it seemed that no city had ever been so irreparably altered by an act of war as had New York on that day. While a few loons danced in the streets to celebrate in foreign lands, most human beings on the planet saw this as a terrible blow to not just New York but to civilization as we know it.