I never realized it until reading this New Yorker piece, but I have absolutely no idea about what the World Trade Center might have looked like on the inside. The only images that come to mind are of the Twin Towers standing, exploding, falling, or being jumped from. As described in Take Picture, a Talk of the Town piece in this week’s New Yorker, a young Estonian immigrant named Konstantin Petrov worked at Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and was an avid photographer.
Working the night shift, he’d take pictures with a point-and-shoot in the hallways and offices of the towers and of the banquet halls and dining room sitting empty and ready for the next day’s customers. It’s an odd little piece of photography that fills in a piece of my personal geography that I didn’t even know needed filling. Petrov worked the night of September 10th, and started driving home a little after 8am on the 11th. He noticed some debris as he was leaving, but didn’t know what happened until he’d gotten home. His pictures from inside the towers, some uploaded as late as August 2001, and from after the attack, are available on Petrov’s Fotki site, last updated around 12 years ago. A number of the images were used in a National Geographic documentary, 9/10: The Final Hours. This image seems to be a self-portrait of Petrov.
On the subject of images from inside the World Trade Center, seek out the documentary 9/11 (IMDB) by French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet and FDNY firefighter James Hanlon. The filmmakers had been following young firefighters in the Engine 7/Ladder 1/Battalion 1 Firehouse on Duane Street in Lower Manhattan for several months; the firehouse was one of the closest to the World Trade Center site. The filmmakers were there gathering footage on the morning of September 11th, and were among the first people on the scene after the first crash. Their footage in the documentary is the only video taken that morning from inside the Twin Towers. That footage, as papers and bodies fall to the ground outside the towers, is chilling.
By the way, Esquire’s article The Falling Man, a modern classic of long-form journalism, is now a fund-raiser for the James Foley Scholarship Fund at Marquette University. Read it now if you haven’t already. And if you have, read it again.