The story of One World Trade Center: Rebirth and remembrance of 9/11

Crowning New York premieres September 7th, 8PM EST on the Smithsonian Channel

A personal response to September 11th through photography.

Michael Raisch in New York, 2002

When something so unexpected happen, something so unimaginable. The reaction is very personal for all that experienced it. In 2001, with a basic start in photography, there was a very real feeling, in this new post 9/11 reality that at any point a know landmark could be completely destroyed and gone for all time. My response was to dive in deep and document a post 9/11 New York City as much as possible, both digitally and in black and white print film.

6 Months marked since the September 11th. Both Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg along with George Pataki reside over the the ceremonies.

In 2002 designs for the future of the World Trade Center site were made public. I headed downtown to view the final 9 designs for the redevelopment of the WTC. I do recall viewing Studio Libeskind's design. Memorable in the plan called for trees planned into the upper most floors of what became One World Trade Center. I didn't photograph his winning design.

Sky Park WTC Proposal

Sky Park WTC Proposal

Foster and Partners: WTC Proposal

Meier, Eisenman, Gwathmey and Holl: WTC Proposal

The evolving view from Jersey City

Jump to a decade later. In late April of 2013, I was contacted by Paul McGuire of Pipeline 39 Entertainment to contribute to their upcoming film 'Crowning New York' produced for the Smithsonian Channel. When Paul came across my time-lapse work, we was excited for the straight on angle and closeness my work in Jersey City provided. It was an honor to work on a chapter in the September 11th rebuilding story along with Paul's studio. "Crowning New York" premieres on the Smithsonian Channel next Sunday, September 7th, 2014 at 8PM EST.

One World Trade Center rising: Photographed from 2011-2013 © Raisch Studios

One World Trade Center rising: Photographed from 2011-2013 © Raisch Studios

I've been able to photograph and witness the redevelopment from various angles over the last decade. In each image the public has been allow closer access to the site itself. In 2002, high construction fences keep viewers east of Broadway, over time as hard working crews restored Lower Manhattan the 16 acre space became more available to the public. These photos below are all taken from the southeast side of the site.

The Redevelopment of the World Trade Center Site - Photographed from 2002-2013 © Raisch Studios

Left: Thomas Raisch, © 1978 - The view of the World Trade Center - Right: Michael Raisch, © 2014 - The view of One World Trade Center.

A generation shaped by 9/11

After the years passed in Jersey City, I'm in amazement to look back both myself and those 16 acres in Lower Manhattan. In that time I got married to my wonderful wife. We also welcomed our daughter into the world. As these life events played out, work at the World Trade Center saw a huge milestone, the topping out of the Spire on tower one. 

From the seeing the destruction of September 11th first had to witnessing the Spire ready for installation. I arrived young adult and left as a father.

Michael and his daughter seen during the construction of One World Trade Center

Symbolism and rebuilding from 2001 to 2013

Below is a sketch I drew in November of 2001, it is the ruins of the north wall of Tower 1 of the WTC. I choose to sketch as a photograph felt disrespectful to the victims of the attack. I placed the sketch along with the photo I took of the Spire, 12 years later as a the symbol of rebirth and renewal. 

Left: The Spire of One World Trade Center, 2013  -  Right: The ruins of the North Tower, sketched in 2001 © RaischStudios

From above: The view of Lower Manhattan from Jersey City and the rise of One World Trade Center 2005-2014 © RaischStudios

The completed One World Trade Center photographed on January 31, 2015 © Raisch Studios

The completed One World Trade Center photographed on January 31, 2015 © Raisch Studios

America marks 13 years since the attacks of September 11th. All original footage and photography in 2012 - 2014. A Raisch Studios Production © 2014


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The Art After 9/11