|Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway|
|Right half of undated stereo card of Brooklyn Bridge, from the Boston Public Library digital archives|
The second photograph shows the view north, with the Empire State Building beyond the historic Manhattan Bridge (opened to traffic on December 31, 1909). These were taken with Kodak Gold 100 film, which worked well on gloomy days and scans well.
In 1995, the family and I stayed in the Vista International Hotel at 3 World Trade Center. It was a 22-story steel-framed building, said to be the first hotel to open in Lower Manhattan since 1836 (is this possible?). It was badly damaged by the truck bomb that terrorists set off in the underground parking garage in 1993, but had been renovated and reopened. The hotel was convenient because you could pass through enclosed walkways into the lobbies of the north and south Trade Center towers. I recall one of the lobbies had a ticket office where you could buy half-price tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway productions. One evening, we went to the top floor of the hotel, and one of the stairways had an unlocked access door to the roof. The view of the south tower was awesome. It loomed up into the foggy night sky seemingly forever. Some employees were toiling away late in their offices. On September 11, the hotel was almost totally crushed, and 40 people lost their lives.
In 1997, I attended a meeting in a NY State Department of State office building at 212 Broadway. The meeting was on the top floor, and once again, an access door to the roof was unlocked. This was too good to resist and I took a panorama of the World Trade Center building using a 35 mm Olympus shift lens (in this case, shifting the lens vertically).
|Panorama of four Rolleiflex exposures on 120-size film.|
|Card by Mayor Rudi Giuliana, from the Leica Gallery|
|Federal Plaza from World Trade Center, April 29, 2001|
|Antennas and equipment on the roof of the North Tower, April 29, 2001|
Then the unimaginable happened. Five months after visiting the observation deck, the towers were destroyed. My coworkers and I watched television in our Vicksburg office transfixed as we saw the towers implode and throw up an immense dust cloud.
|NASA photograph iss003e5388_232021.|
This was the remains of the Winter Garden, across West Street from the Trade Center Plaza. It once housed beautiful palm trees.
Very moving were the impromptu memorials of flowers, notes, letters, and photographs of loved ones who had perished. Fortunately, none of my coworkers were hurt, but all knew someone or were connected via a friend or neighbor to someone who died.
|MTA route map, December 2001|
I took the black and white photographs with Kodak CN400 film using my 1949-vintage Leica IIIC camera with a 5 cm ƒ/3.5 Red Dot Elmar lens. This was the post-war coated version of the famous Elmar lens, in production until the 1960s. This, as well as the later ƒ/2.8 version, are wonderful performers when adapted to Leica, Micro 4/3, or Fuji X digital cameras (and, of course, are best on film). My IIIC is still in regular use, but I sold the Red Dot Elmar lens.
Updated August 15, 2014, with added photograph.
Updated October 2018: added MTA map.
Update March 12, 2020: Mr Michael Hertz, whose design studio created the iconic NY Transit Map, died on February 28, 2020.
Update July 12, 2020: Added early-1900s stereo card of the Brooklyn Bridge