Report From Ground Zero:
All photos and text
©2001 by Michael Cook
The New Landscape

In the first week after the World Trade Center collapse, I was able to return to my home (for about 12 minutes) to witness this new landscape from my living room window. A tremendous amount of the wreckage shown here has since been removed and excavated.

Thanksgiving, November 22, 2001

Out of respect for, and in deference to all those who lost their lives in the cataclysm of September 11, I've decided not to post any material on Artinsight regarding this unspeakable tragedy—until now. There are numerous reasons for this, and reasons why I feel it may now be time to present these photographs and my experiences related to that event, as well as what has transpired since.

Because my family and I lived and worked in the shadow of the World Trade Center towers for over 22 years, our home, our furnishings and possessions (including some of the artwork on this site), as well as our respective studios, have been either ruined or rendered completely unusable for a very long time. (I'm not talking about a layer of dust on the coffee table....) Because we lived only 50 yards from ground zero, the force of the collapse blew out our windows and deposited a thick carpet of ash, papers, glass, and heavier debris everywhere inside, ranging from four inches thick on the floor, to several feet deep in places. The dust apparently contains pulverized material of practically every element known to earth, including asbestos and other toxic materials.

The (former) office and computer equipment (barely visible at the lower right here) used to produce Artinsight was either ruined, or still sits there mute, under this blanket of dust, in this chaos, over two months later. We're not making much progress....
Only recently have I managed to replace some of that equipment and piece together enough of the electronic files that were backed up and rescued, to finally start updating this site again, and to gradually begin the process of rebuilding our lives. It's still much easier to do in this in the virtual realm than in the brick and mortar world around us—although many selfless individuals are doing just that across the street, 24 hours a day. They have already made tremendous progress.

Obviously, the lives lost can never be replaced, and our hearts go out to the families of those who will never return from their routine commute to work on that fateful day. We will never forget the extraordinary heroism of all those who gave their lives to save others.

We are extremely fortunate and grateful to have survived unscathed. To the families of all the victims, we extend our deepest sympathy, and want you to know that we share your pain and grief. It's almost as if the entire planet slowed down in its orbit on the morning of September 11. Today, any visit near this hallowed ground provides powerful assurances that other Americans also feel your pain and offer their support and encouragement to keep moving on, as do people from all over the world.

And it is a world that has changed in so many ways since that day. Our personal, political, social, and economic lives have been irrevocably altered. We can never reclaim that, nor the innocence that preceded it.

This year, at this time, what Thanksgiving means to us is the miraculous good fortune of simply being alive. That perspective alone changes our day-to-day lives, and our world, for the better. In this spirit, I present the following links on Artinsight related to this disaster, in the hope that this may help all of us better grasp the complexities of this event, and cope with the continuing anguish, fear, anger, confusion, and grief it still precipitates. I dedicate the following pages, words, and images to those brave individuals who have not returned.

Enter here for the journal of my experiences in going back into our home following
September 11(with photos).

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