Unseen 9/11 archive found at house sale
June 20, 2019 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Ground zero demolition archive c/w 9/11 Archivists who bought a stash of CDs at a house clearance sale found 2,400 photos of Ground Zero in New York taken following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. c/w 9/11

The digital albums include images of Ground Zero itself taken both at ground level and from above, construction staff at work and the damaged interiors of the blocks surrounding the towers.

Dr Burgess said sharing the photos was "about doing what's right for humanity" and suggested that people who are moved by them should consider donating to a worthy cause of their choice.

BBC article
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-48689783

Flickr album
https://www.flickr.com/photos/textfiles/albums/72157708997281912
posted by RandomInconsistencies (17 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not just "archivists," Jason Scott works at the Internet Archive.
posted by reductiondesign at 1:50 PM on June 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


This is great work on Jason's part. His warning that CD-Rs are literally falling apart should not be lost in the review of these amazing photos.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2019 [22 favorites]


"It was as if the voices of a million conspiracy theorists cried out and were suddenly ... well, no, not silenced. The opposite really."
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:55 PM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is amazing.

I just realized after seeing some of the interior shots that I have not seen anything documenting the inside of the buildings before today. It hit kind of hard to see the scale of destruction from a new (to me) perspective.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 1:56 PM on June 20, 2019 [9 favorites]


Because of the angle, the actual scale of this one becomes even more striking the longer you look at it and start to process what the details around the edges tell you about both the horizontal dimensions and vertical depth of what you're looking at.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:10 PM on June 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


So glad to finally find out what happened to the Amex building. All I read was that it had been "damaged," enough to be closed for a while, but I never found out just how badly it was affected. Great FPP, thanks!
posted by Melismata at 2:10 PM on June 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yeah - bitrot on CD-R's is going to be a shock for many many people.
posted by jkaczor at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


This is haunting in so many ways, not least because of what we know those workers were exposed to and seeing in "real time" over the course of almost a month what kind of PPE gear they are or (usually) are not wearing with all that dust and smoke rising around them. It's an archive of toxic exposure.
posted by barchan at 2:42 PM on June 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


The government officials who declared the air around Ground Zero clean and safe then should be the ones in Guantanamo today.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 3:16 PM on June 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah - bitrot on CD-R's is going to be a shock for many many people

Not bitrot, rust. The metal is oxidizing away, just like bare steel turns orange , silver turns gray, and copper turns green. This isn't ones turning into zeros, and vice-versa. This is literally the material (silver) that holds the information slowing getting destroyed.

My father has a bunch of the very early variant of CD-Rs (they cost $10 each in 1995, and use gold so no oxidation), and they still look and work great. The cheaper ones we bought over the years, however, are all now clear drink coasters.

After going and reading the linked NPR article: WTF? This isn't some mystery whose truth is lost to the ages. Silver tarnishes and eventually oxidizes away. Some CD-Rs use materials (like the aforementioned gold) that don't oxidize. Non CD-Rs don't expose the silver (since there is no reason if it's already been written), so they last a long time if not forever. They couldn't find someone to interview who was alive during the time before Spotify and streaming music?
posted by sideshow at 4:14 PM on June 20, 2019 [9 favorites]


I mean, I was alive for floppy disks, and didn’t know CD-Roms went bad until just this very moment. It’s not an age thing.
posted by corb at 11:16 PM on June 20, 2019 [7 favorites]




So glad to finally find out what happened to the Amex building.

Is that what the crashed dome thing is from? Or was that from WTC 11?
posted by thelonius at 12:55 AM on June 21, 2019


Very sobering, and excellent work.
posted by james33 at 4:41 AM on June 21, 2019


I just realized after seeing some of the interior shots that I have not seen anything documenting the inside of the buildings before today.

This too is a thought that really hit me hard. That we had never seen the inside. That being said, I think one reason for that is because of the horror of it all. These photos are very overwhelming, but I appreciate that they're being preserved for future generations.
posted by Fizz at 5:22 AM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


The main reason we didn't see it is because they wouldn't let anyone in. It was a dangerous place to be, both because it was still burning slow down under and pumping out poisonous smoke, and because they were working in a kind of frenzy.

Seeing how compacted the ruins are reminds me of my emergency room doctor sister-in-law telling us how they went to full mass-casualty disaster status, called all shifts in to work, put the trauma surgeons down in the ER, rolled gurneys out onto the street to unload ambulances, and waited. And waited. There just weren't any survivors to treat.
posted by ckridge at 6:48 AM on June 21, 2019 [9 favorites]


Wow, these are amazing. It would be extra amazing to find out who the photographer was - can we tell what kind of worker they were from the shots? Will any of the people pictured be able to identify them? The house owners?
posted by epanalepsis at 8:21 AM on June 21, 2019


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