Well, it’s 2020, and 9/11 has come and gone once again. I’ve visited the lights and shapes that commemorate 9/11 at Liberty State Park several times. People ask me why I go back more than once. “Don’t I see the same thing every time I go?” Never. This year was special.
Maybe it was because it’s the year of COVID 19 and a pandemic. Maybe it’s because the weather was beautiful this year on 9/11 – just like our weather was on 9/11/01. Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in the NY/NJ area my entire life. Maybe it’s because I’m a member of my local fire department. Maybe it’s because I love creating images. Maybe it’s because of something else…
There’s steel from the World Trade Centers on display in many places including the Greenwich Emergency Squad right here in Stewartsville, NJ. Every time I see it, it gives me chills and goosebumps. I start to think of what this steel must have gone through to look like this. Then I think of what all the people that were in or under the towers must have gone through. Then I think of the families of the survivors…
The NYC sky line is what I’m drawn to first. Even though it’s very familiar to me, it hold a special importance. But this year I also wanted to create some images to put a spiritual connection to what happened here.
I also attended the Greenwich Township Emergency Squad Dedication of a new 9-11 memorial on September 11, 2011. The squad sought after and received a genuine piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
I was quite a busy person on September 11th this year. Besides photographing the Tribute lights at night, I also attended Warren County, NJ Patriot Day ceremony. They have a 9-11 memorial under construction as seen in the picture above. This is an actual piece of steel from the World Trade Centers.
I heard a rumor that the annual lighting of the WTC with the skyward lights was going to cease after this year. This is always something I wanted to photograph. You could say it was on my photo bucket list.
So on Sunday, September 11, 2011, I went in search of a location in NJ to photograph this from. My first instinct was to go to the Hoboken area. I couldn’t find any publically accessible location that offered plenty of parking. I thought about going to Newport Centre mall which is also in the area. A fellow photographer suggested a restaurant near Montclair that had a great view of NYC. I was going to go there but there was so much humidity and clouds I was afraid there would be too much haze.
So I headed to Liberty State Park. I’ve never been there before and didn’t know what I would find at night. the GPS initially led me astray but got me close enough that I could follow the lights once. Speaking of lights, as I was getting closer to NYC I couldn’t see them. I remember reading that they are visible from up to 60 miles away. But I knew that night’s weather was not 60 mile weather. Finally they appear and I followed them and the signs to the State Park.
At first I was hesitant to get out and investigate. Then I saw the small parking lot was nearly filled with cars and there were other walking around many with cameras. In fact there were several families there too. I think realized that this night was probably one of the more safer nights there was going to be.
So off I went to find a spot for the pictures. But the first thing I found was mosquitos. Or better yet they found me. So back to the car I went as luckily I had some spray. I should have listened to that little voice in my head that said to wear pants and long sleeves.
I took a series of pictures over an area of water that made it look like the water was continuous to NYC but I knew it wasn’t. But it was a good location none the less. In fact it turned out to be one of the better locations I found out when I went to process the photos afterwards. If I knew that I would have shot more variety of photos there.
I then walked to another area. I started talking with another photographer along the way. We both had tripods and nice cameras and were both worried about safety. So we decided to stick together for a little while.
But more and more people and families were walking around and I heard no screams or gunshots so I decided to walk even closer to NYC. I managed to get to the pier right along the Hudson river and take the following photo: