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New York, A City United

MEMORIAL LANDSCAPE OF A POST 9/11 NEW YORK CITy

A detailed look into a resilient, united and grieving post-September 11th New York City retold from an art student's perspective through original sketches and how it lead to the discovery of a symbol for the unknown victims of the September 11th attacks.

 
 
 

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World Trade Center, May 13, 2001 – Photo: Eileen McNamara Raisch

 

Attending art school days into my sophomore year.

NOVEMBER 3, 2001

 

At the time I was pursuing my degree in graphic design at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Like many Americans, our sense of security and awareness of the world shifted dramatically that day. We gained a renewed sense of patriotism, one that the younger generation (myself included) never experienced before. The attacks affected me greatly living in the New York City metro area as a young adult entering the 'real' world. I turned to my art to document and process the events of 9/11 and the weeks and months after. All of the following drawings, sketches, photographs and objects were part of my life and were created from 2001 to 2002.  This is the narrative of how I came to learn of the delivery bike memorial on the streets of New York. The animated gifs illustrate the memories of that November day, while the static sketches are my originals from 2001.  This story follows my journey through the city and how my interactions with people conveyed the solemn and yet united tone of the city. 

 

September 11th edition of the Daily Targum, Rutgers

Original 9/11 Blood Donor card

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My day began at the Rutgers campus dorms

LIVINGSTON CAMPUS – NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ

 

 
 

My studio class traveled to the city,
viewing Soho galleries.

The following story is told through original sketches and recreated gifs, illustrating memories 15 years later. These gifs express my sketching style as a college student, documenting small moments through art. This story will follow my journey through the city that day and how my interactions with people conveyed the solemn and yet united tone of the city.  We gained a renewed sense of patriotism, one that the younger generation (myself included) never experienced before. The attacks affected me greatly living in the New York City metro area as a young adult entering the 'real' world. I turned to my art to document and process the events of 9/11 and the weeks and months after. 

At the time we taught the
art of 15 second gesture drawing.

 Figure and gesture drawings, class assignment - September 25, 2001

Figure and gesture drawings, class assignment - September 25, 2001

 Gesture drawings, Civic Square, New Brunswick September 25, 2001 

Gesture drawings, Civic Square, New Brunswick September 25, 2001 

 Various figure drawings, Manhattan - Nov 2001

Various figure drawings, Manhattan - Nov 2001

 American flags, 30 Rock - Nov 3, 2001

American flags, 30 Rock - Nov 3, 2001

Cafe, New York City - Nov 3, 2001

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Here is New York Exhibition

A DEMOCRACY OF PHOTOGRAPHY, 116 PRINCE STREET

 

 
 

I came upon a line extending the block...

Original "Here is New York" exhibition mission statement, November 3, 2001

The gallery showing had such a unique presentation  onto itself. I'll never forget to the images hung above akin to clothes lines in the city. Beyond the impact of the images of a grieving New York and the attacks that day, was a small monitor looping video play back in the corner. Any one that was there will remember- A lone camera man's journey to Ground Zero at night and footage he captured just days after. We all sat their in close quarters in viewing in complete silence.

 

After my studio class wrapped up with the various galleries in Soho, including the New Museum, We had broken class for that day. Somewhere in our traversing Soho, I had noticed the crowds and line associated with an nearly unmarked photo gallery. This turned out to be the "Here is New York" crowd scoured photography exhibition. This show would go on to tour the country and become a published book. At the time, I was exactly sure of the scope of the showing. While we waited the line, I had made small talk with those around me. They had seen the attacks first hand.

It looked like a ticket tape parade...
— A voice in the line describing the paper falling from the Towers.
 
 

Moved from the experience, I decided
to see the attacks for myself.

 

Time and change is an ever present force in New York City. This place and everything about stopped that morning, the moment when those airliners struck the towers. Discovering the bike memorial was impart a result of the post-9/11 atmosphere in NYC. One part was due to how everyone talk in the aftermath, the second was myself as an art student in college. I was compelled to see the transformed war zone, I needed to see what happen for myself. For a very unique moment in time, New Yorkers really talked to everyone. People listened, they united in this forever changed atmosphere.  Below is the original sketch I drew of the remains of the North Tower, The horizontal lines indicated the grounds, still smoking. Also below is a religious booklet handed to me as I entered the Ground Zero area, entitled 'Remembrance" 

After I finished this sketch, I came upon what be know as the Delivery Bike Memorial...

 

Original sketch of First Responders and the remains of the North Tower, November 3, 2001

I found a small crowd gathered around a memorialized bike.

 

Overlooking the devastation of the area was a group paying their respects to what seemed like an ordinary mountain bike. This one was different adorned with flowers, religious cards and items. It was transformed into a public memorial for an unknown victim of the 9/11.

 
 
 
 September 11th Delivery Bike Memorial, Photographed March 11, 2002 © Michael Raisch

September 11th Delivery Bike Memorial, Photographed March 11, 2002 © Michael Raisch

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Learning of the delivery bike memorial story.

ONE BLOCK FROM THE SOUTH TOWER, BROADWAY AND CEDAR

 

 

 

 
He went up to the towers delivering breakfast sandwiches and never made it out.
— A voice on the street
 

As told to me it belonged to a delivery messenger, on a breakfast sandwiches order and never made it back from the Towers. There was an suggestion that (he) was a immigrant worker and not noted among the official victims of the attacks. Located next to the bike locked up to a bus stop post, you could still see the promotions for the downtown event planned for the week 9/11 ahead, 'Dine Around Downtown' planed for Tuesday September 12th in the World Trade Center plaza, and 'Summer 2001' Downtown promotions still were present. In reviewing theses details, I discovered a small crowd gathering around the bike memorial. I casually asked about the origins of the bike. It was explained to me that the bike had belonged to a "undocumented delivery worker that had gone into the towers delivering breakfast sandwiches and never made it out." His identity was unknown due to his immigration status. Below are a collection of image I created in the weeks and months to come after learning of the bike's significance. 

THE HANDMADE NOTE READ:

 
In Memory of the delivery boys who died.
En memoria de los delivery boys que murieron. Sept 11 2001.
 

9/11 Bike Memorial Photography, DECEMBER 2001

This vista offer a narrow view through some fencing and revealed a north western view of the remains of the outer wall of Tower 1, the North Tower of the WTC. It had collapsed and was angled back on top of WTC 3, the Customs House. Many on lookers had been snapping photos. The raw nature of the attacks was so real. Death was everywhere, so close at hand. For my generation, born in the early 1980's I had never see such violence against our country first hand. I felt it would have been invasive and just wrong to photography this view so directly. It might as well have been photographing an open grave. I had choose to sketch the North Tower directly as a way to mark the moment and preserve the memory. The iron was red. I'll never forget that visual tone and color, rich almost like scared tissue. Because of the sketch and location, this is where had initially came upon the bike memorial.

Unique to this moment in time, people truly united in shared conversations on the streets.

These shared moments shaped my day and experiences. As people talked and opened up I came to learn of the Bike, shared a moment waiting in line for 'Here is New York' and was able to get a ticket for the SNL dress rehearsal

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Heading uptown to The MET

FINDING SOLACE AND CONTEMPLATION IN ART

 

 
 

Taking in art and ancient history in the city.

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The Astor Court

MING DYNASTY, CHINESE GARDEN REPLICA

In search of “quietude” in the garden.

 

As I was discovering aspects of the city, I came known the MET. One of which, as an art student was the suggested donation to entering the museum. This became a haven for me as an artist once I discovered. At the time I was handed out a spacial textures project in my graphic design class at Mason Gross. We were asked to describe a place through texture only. I quickly had reflected on my experience in the Chinese garden at the MET in July 2001 for the project. I then rolled my trip into Manhattan together with design photo research work.

 
 MET Astor Court, November 3, 2001

MET Astor Court, November 3, 2001

  MET Astor Court, November 3, 2001

MET Astor Court, November 3, 2001

 Sketch of the Astor Court -  November 3, 2001

Sketch of the Astor Court - November 3, 2001

 Astor Court Entrance, November 3, 2001
 Left and Above, original sketches of Astor Court - November 3, 2001

Left and Above, original sketches of Astor Court - November 3, 2001

 Astor Court Sketch, June 2001 

Astor Court Sketch, June 2001 

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Saturday Night Live Dress Rehearsal

A STAND BY TICKET opportunity

 

 
 

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: SEASON 27  |  HOST : JOHN GOODMAN

Through the day’s journey I heard you
could get a ticket to the SNL dress rehearsal.

 

Landing a ticket for SNL was absolutely thrilling.  That excitement was usually heightened by the comradery present the city then. During my travels that day I had causally heard that one could get a ticket more easily for the Dress Rehearsal for SNL. I immediately jumped on the notion.  I happened to asked around in the right group as the people I spoke with had a sudden cancelation. I was thrilled to take this additional ticket, we all were pushed to the back on line as all on 'stand by' status. Slowly we moved closer to goal of gain admission a real bond had formed. We all eventually got seated in what was a memorable show with John Goodman hosting. I recall turning to my friends and saying. "We're doing this for America" as the elevator doors closed at 30 Rock. We all had felt a real sense of brotherhood and defiance as we attended. Almost to stand united to those who attacked us. Weeks later, Julie whom I had received the extra stand by ticket mailed me a photo of us standing in front of the 2001 season cast.

We’re doing this for America!
— Michael to his fellow SNL ticket holders
 
 SNL Stand By Ticket, Artist's recreation
 
 

I'll never forget Jimmy Fallon’s energy and enthusiasm firing up the crowd...

 

Jimmy Fallon, At the Weekend Update desk, November 3, 2001

 
 Original gesture sketch of the Saturday Night Live studios, November 3, 2001

Original gesture sketch of the Saturday Night Live studios, November 3, 2001

Michael and Julie attending the Dress Rehearsal of SNL, November 3, 2001

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15 years later from urban legend
to the September 11th Museum.

HOW THE BIKE MEMORIAL FOUND IT'S WAY TO THE MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Flash forward 15 years later, as 2016 unfolded and we approached the fifteen anniversary milestone. I set out to speak with the September 11th Museum on my 2001 work through social media. In discussing the art work I produced as a college student, I had also shared of some of the detailed photographs of the objects left behind of the World Trade Center. In hearing I was honored to have the delivery bike memorial photographed added to the museum’s collections through Jan Seidler Ramirez. The images below are from our April meeting at the Museum and some of the areas featured in this story rephotographed 15 years later.

We've seen memorial take shape since it's 2011 opening and now, as some kind of testament to the rebuilding efforts a high-end mall stands in the shadow of the towers. It was really a striking message to world how we've rebuilt in 15 years. A true moment of our unique American can do spirit. Further proving we came back stronger. To further illustrate this point (Below). This is the exact place I sketched the ruins of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, 15 years ago this fall. Still smoking as they were still pulling the deceased out.

 Site of the original November 3, 2001 sketch of the World Trade Center rephotographed in 2016

Site of the original November 3, 2001 sketch of the World Trade Center rephotographed in 2016

9/11 Memorial & Museum

Artist’s Digital Exhibition Traces Life of 9/11 Artifact, OCTober 26

 

 
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The Rise of One World Trade Center

A story told through timelapse of the rebuilding of One WTC

 
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The Art After 9/11

A college student's original sketches and art in response to September 11th, 2001