On Sept. 11, 2001, New York City was shaken to its core when two jet airliners crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. In the wake of the chaos, New York-based Irish photographer Nicola McClean responded in the only way she knew how: she picked up her camera and took to the streets to try and capture the confusion and panic that surrounded her. At the same time, a young police captain in New York named Paul McCormack, rushed to downtown Manhattan, and worked in the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero.
Courtesy, Nicola McClean
During that time, McClean took thousands of photographs near Ground Zero and the surrounding neighborhoods, working to capture the chaos engulfing the city, as well as the work of emergency workers, police officers, firefighters and others. Over the following 10 years, McClean and McCormack worked together to create “Ground Zero 360: Never Forget,” a stunning panoramic installation of photographic images, visuals and audio clips that provides a unique insight into the hearts and minds of New Yorkers in the days that followed the attacks.
Their unique exhibit comes to Holocaust Museum Houston this September, opening on the 13th anniversary of that fateful day. HMH members are invited to a free preview reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 11, in the Museum’s Mincberg Gallery, Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St. in Houston’s Museum District. To renew a membership or to join and attend, visit the Museum Web site at www.hmh.org, e-mail email@example.com or call 713-527-1640. The exhibit remains on view through Jan. 11, 2015.
General admission is $12 for nonmembers and $8 for seniors and active-duty members of the military. Admission is free for Museum members and students with valid ID. The Museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Visitors will be able to discover the startling aftermath of one of the most tragic events in American history – seeing what McClean, hearing the stories she heard and meeting the people she met, particularly the heroic men and women of the New York City Emergency Services. Through harrowing visuals, heartbreaking “missing posters” and a unique panoramic installation, “Ground Zero 360” invites viewers to step into the past and feel what 8 million New Yorkers were feeling in the days that followed the attacks.
Visitors will also be able to hear the city’s previously unreleased emergency radio calls from that morning, and touch a fragment of twisted steel I-beam and broken granite from the World Trade Center. Also on view will be personal artifacts on loan from families of a police officer and a firefighter who lost their lives at the World Trade Center, as well as crosses cut from the steel by ironworkers and a flag that flew over Ground Zero.
The lives of three Jewish firefighters who were killed in 9/11 also will be commemorated.
“Most fled the city in fear of their lives, but New York’s finest and bravest were not among them. On 9/11, I was Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s 41st Precinct,” McCormack said. “Police officers see danger often, but nothing prepared us for the chaos and death of that day. I worked with other first responders to locate survivors at Ground Zero. There were few. We in the NPYD still remember the thousands of innocent souls we couldn’t save. We will never forget the sacrifice of the rescue workers who died.”
“Yet, he added, “one of the most uplifting moments of my career was seeing crowds lining the streets, cheering for police officers, firefighters, ironworkers and health care workers reporting to work at Ground Zero. I felt we were all united in love of our country.”
McClean recalled that on the morning of 9/11, “dust was falling so thickly I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. As the sandy powder fell, police and fire fighters appeared, disappeared and reappeared. I felt a deep sense of loss, and an intense feeling of good versus evil. A tangible sense of wrongdoing seemed to fill every molecule of air. Though it was so quiet, every grain of dust also seemed to be wailing, and slowly signaling the end of the world and the end of our vibrant New York, as once we had known it,” she said.
“This exhibition is dedicated to all victims and their families, whose lives changed completely and forever on September 11, 2001. It is our responsibility to never forget,” she added.
Because of injuries sustained in the line of duty, McCormack retired from the New York Police Department. He and McClean eventually married, and are now raising their family in Ireland.
Whether an adult or a child when it happened, 9/11 was a defining moment. The City of New York continues to evolve and change, but the memory of those extraordinary days and weeks will always remain. Ground Zero 360 allows the onlooker to experience the enduring events of 9/11 and celebrate the tremendous courage and dignity of a nation under fire.
Location : Mincberg Gallery