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All rights reserved © 2017 Kate Joyce
Union Square, New York | 2001 - 2011
September 11, 2001. My United Airlines redeye from San Francisco arrived in Newark near seven o’clock that morning. I got off, walked into the terminal, got my bags, and jumped in a cab. My plane refueled and became Flight 93, the 4th hijacked aircraft that morning. I was in the city for thirty minutes before the first plane hit the World Trade Center's North tower. I was with my father and sister. I was twenty-one years old and it was my first visit to Manhattan.
During those first couple of days I experienced an epicenter of another sort in Union Square. People gathered from all over the city and all over the world to mourn and memorialize the lives lost, while also trying to discuss the multitude of issues raised by the collapsing towers.
I stayed with a constant group of people and passersby, into the night, returning day after day, listening and photographing.
In 2006 I revisited my negatives. Temporary cement barricades surrounded the park along E. 14th Street and University Place. On top of the barricades hundreds of candles burned for loved ones. I was compelled to reassemble the barricades. I paired images and digitally blended them in order to create a single image.
Union Square is now a place of pilgrimage.
September 11, 2011. On the ten year anniversary I walked to Union Square after having dinner with a 19th-century photo book enthusiast and friend in Greenwich Village. The park was quiet. It was close to midnight. A young man invited me to a game of chess. I'd never played before. He introduced himself as Rosario and pulled up a crate for me to sit while he finished a game with someone else. Chess traces its roots to ancient empires in Afghanistan and Iran, regions that were, and still are, central to conversations about the World Trade Tower attacks. I watched their hands work the pieces around and off the board. At checkmate I took the chair opposite and learned how to play.
- Kate Joyce 2013