Sunday, May 16, 2010

World Trade Center

World Trade Center

Made possible by:

George Pataki, NY State Governor
New York State Office of General Services
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
New York State Department of Correctional Services
Office of the State Comptroller, New York
New York State Police
Division of Military and Naval Affairs
New York Army National Guard
New York City Fire Department
New York City Police Department
New York City Department of Sanitation at the Fresh Kills Landfill
New York City Office of Emergency Management
The New-York Historical Society
The Museum of the City of New York
The New Jersey Historical Society
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Phillips and Jordan Inc.
The Salvation Army
Aon Corporation
Christina Steel Inc.
Gould Erectors
Iron Workers Local No. 12

One who was not present can only imagine the vision of the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001. It was a day like any other day, and then something hit, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers- the two most powerful commercial buildings in the City of New York. In just minutes, thousands of people lost their lives; and thousands of other lives changed for the worse. People were faced with ultimate fear and consequence that was not deserved. For over 1 year, firefighters and search and rescue teams dug through endless piles of debris to uncover the missing pieces, including the missing lives of many loved ones. Today on May 16, 2010 , 9 years later, I find myself walking through the World Trade Center exhibit at the New York State Museum.

The World Trade Center Exhibit focuses on the tragedy that occurred, and the consequences it had on the lives of the people, the city, and the country, surrounding it. It helps any individual understand the true pain that it caused so many. It also helps visitors visualize and understand the REAL amount of damage that was done in such little time. This exhibit to me, was more of a memorial and a "jaw-dropping" experience than a historical record. It focuses less on the history behind the particular reasons why the terrorist attack occurred or the historical significance of the attack, and more on its immediate impact, including people's reactions

While visiting the exhibit, I was thinking about why it is a memorial exhibit rather than a historical one.  In my opinion, it is represented this way because the attack happened too recently. . I believe this is the case, because it may be too soon to really treat the personal suffering, the artifacts such as personal belongings that are recognizable would not be used in this exhibit.  Along with artifacts, in terms of the historical understanding of the event it may just be too soon to create a correct historical analysis. The only reference that they use to mention terrorists were the covers of particular newspapers around the country.  This was more to show the response of the United States as an entity rather than the terrorists themselves.

The artifacts that were chosen were less personal and were more focused on what was inside of the building. Over the years, generations will pass and more artifacts will be donated to be used for a more historical exhibit on the 9-11 attacks.  The photos I have chosen are to help you understand what the exhibit entailed. 

Parts from the Airplane                                                  Debris from the wing of one of the aircrafts

After the terrorist attack, the debris was moved to the Fresh Kills Landfill to be sorted through.  This was to provide a clean atmosphere for what they now call, "ground zero."  The landfill was searched through for over 300 days. Eventually, they stopped searching and made the final count of what was found in the rubble.

The land fill was the most important part of the aftermath, and was the reason for many things that were uncovered. The Fresh Kills Landfill was where they uncovered many artifacts including keys, subway turnstiles, aluminum signs, campaign pins, plaques, and ammunition that was stored in the building.  The exhibit also shows the attire that the workers wore while searching through the rubble. This was to show the intensity of the bad fumes and the pollution that the rubble caused.

Along with the artifacts that were found, the exhibit contains several beams that were left from the buildings themselves. These give you an understanding of how large the building was and how much mass came tumbling down in so little time causing thousands of deaths.

Left and Right:

Beams from the structures themselves
Subway turnstile from the WTC
Portions of signs from the complex
Guns weapons that were stored in the WTC
Fire Truck from Engine 6 that was burned during the attack

Along with the artifacts and the videos of testimonies by one firefighter, there are also memorial artifacts that were made by people all over the country expressing their sadness, and their feeling of grief. Children wrote and drew their thoughts down on paper expressing their feelings about the tragedies.

The photos below are of artifacts that were in the memorial section of the exhibit at the end. There were cranes that people made in honor of people who died; the poster on the left is from Cleveland, and is signed by people showing their support for New York City.

This exhibit was moving and evoked a great amount of emotion. It brings the visitor face to face with terror and how such damage can happen so fast, and how many lives it can change. It may be years until the museum is able to exhibit this tragedy on a more historical basis. Right now it is purely to honor and commemorate the people that died and the people who were lucky enough to survive the terrible tragedy that shook the entire nation.

"Black Capital: Harlem in 1920's"

"Black Capital: Harlem in 1920's"

First I will start off by saying this exhibit was magnificent. This exhibit depicts the lives of black people living in Harlem during the 1920's. In my opinion, there was little to no bias in this exhibit. It represented the lower class, as well as explained the realities of situations such as the cost of living, and racism. The exhibit focuses on the African American race and just one of their efforts to fight for equality. The exhibit primarily highlights the accomplishments of black men of the time, but that is because of their tremendous achievements. Still it does not leave women out. The main photograph for the exhibit shows 3 African American women dressed nicely on the streets of Harlem. The choices of photography, the layout and the media used were all very effective in communicating the meaning that blacks were trying to create for Harlem.

These two quotes struck me in particular... They called Harlem, the "center of black political activism" and "their spiritual haven"

The exhibit starts off by addressing the fact that New York City was in fact segregated. Blacks were banned from attending cultural, community, religious, and even educational events. This caused blacks outrage so they wanted to start up their own legacy.

They created their own churches- the exhibit had a pulpit, which was an easy way to encourage visitors to think about what life was like in an all black church in Harlem at that time.

Pulpit from an African American Church

Blacks started their own community organizations, including those centered on sports and literature.  Most importantly, blacks initiated the Harlem Renaissance, which significantly changed the country's views on blacks, and served as a creative outlet for blacks.

"Children's fashion contest, in front of Green's Employment Agency"
Otis Butler, photographer c 1928
Photo courtesy of Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg center for Research in Black Culture
The New York Public Library: Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundation
I like this choice of photograph because it shows the diversity amongst the particular race, in this case African Americans. This shows how children were also segregated.

Sports equipment and photograph of Black sports team

Jazz club was one of the activities that attracted white people to the Harlem community to watch the black performers. They also expressed themselves through art such as painting, to express the "survival over struggle and diversity."

Jazz Instruments of famous Black artists

Some of the most famous works by African American Authors
one of which is by W.E.B Dubois' Souls of Black Folks

"How did African Americans work to improve the quality of their lives in America?"
The exhibit focused on three of the most important black groups that helped influence and better the quality of life for African Americans in the United States.

Harlem was the center of the black political debate. It was a political power base during the time of lynching and discrimination. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, The Universal Negro Improvement Association and the National Advancement Association for Colored People, all were doing their part in fighting for equality.

First, the exhibit admires a man by the name of A. Philip Randolph who started the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. 


The Universal Negro Improvement Association was according to the constitution amended in 1929 is is a "social, friendly, humanitarian, charitable, educational, institutional, constructive and expansive society, and is founded by persons desiring to do the utmost to work for the general uplift of the people of African ancestry of the world. And the members pledge themselves to do all in their power to conserve the rights of their noble race and to respect the rights of all mankind, believing always in the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God. The motto of the organization is 'One God! One Aim! One Destiny!' Therefore, let justice be done to all mankind, realizing that if the strong oppresses the weak, confusion and discontent will ever mark the path of man but with love, faith and charity towards all the reign of peace and plenty will be heralded into the world and the generations of men shall be called Blessed."

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was led by W.E.B DuBois and the mission of the NAACP is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination."- NAACP- OUR MISSION 

These two groups were what made the blacks able to fight for their freedom.  Without them, there would have been no outlet for them. In order for blacks to make an impact there needed to be some sort of structure.

The exhibit had video as well as audio to enhance the viewers experience. It notes of one man who made a difference. His name was Arthur Schomburg, and he saved numerous of articles, newspapers, photographs,etc in order to mark the significance of Harlem. The exhibit ends with Harlem today, and how the rich African American culture and the fight for freedom still exists today.

Other photographs of the exhibit...

New York State Museum

New York State Museum

The museum was divided up into different sections based on location.

I focused specifically on exhibits concerning the metropolitan area, New York City specifically. I visited two exhibits, one of which is permanent and is called "World Trade Center" and the other which is temporary and is called, "Black Capital: Harlem in 1920's." Both of these exhibits reflected a particular time in history. One reflected just one tragic day, and the other represents an influential decade in history. I believe that both of the exhibits are important in different ways and are for sure a must see...