Sunday, September 11, 2016

Taking the Twin Towers for Granted

The gargantuan twin towers of the World Trade Center are framed by the stately Washington Square Arch in a New Yorker spot drawing by Tom Funk. The drawing was published in the "Goings on About Town" section of the March 19, 1979 issue six years after the World Trade Center opened. The twin towers were never beloved exactly, not while they stood, but they were accepted and embraced by New Yorkers as an audacious expression of the outsized aspirations of our city. In their brashness they were understood by us and as familiar presences in lower Manhattan we soon learned to take them for granted.

Discovering the many ways these two monolithic buildings played off against the more established elements of the skyline was an ongoing process that we engaged in casually, believing we had all the time in the world to work out the nuances of scale and perspective. Then, of course, the towers were suddenly destroyed, lost forever in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 amid a far greater human tragedy. Only then did we stop taking the towers for granted. They became instead an enduring symbol of all we had lost, and of the importance of remembrance and resolve.

Tom Funk, The New Yorker, March 19, 1979, page 4

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