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While doing aerial photography around Manhattan, we fly south along the Hudson river, towards lower Manhattan. I see on my left, the Twin Towers and ask the pilot to head over to the towers. I shoot a couple of shots of them and we head back to the east side heliport.

I get to the office and process the film and after examining the shots, I get the idea of challenging myself to see if I can make some interesting photos of the towers, since they are nothing more then two buildings “shooting 1,360 feet into the sky,” no interesting curves, nothing more then two oblong structures, and that started me on a seven-year project.

Every time I was in the vicinity of the towers, I would walk around them looking for some way to “frame” them for an interesting picture.

One night, coming back from an assignment in New Jersey, I decided to take a scenic route back, which took me along the Staten Island side of the Hudson river and that’s when I spotted the towers, structures complete, but the upper floors were not closed in, all beautifully reflecting in the calm waters of the Hudson River.

I finished the project sometime in 1980, made some prints just to see how it would look when enlarged, then put them in my file and that was that, my challenge was complete.

Fast forward to September 11, 2021, for the 20th anniversary and now I have the opportunity to make my contribution to the everlasting history of what was and what replaced what was ... the towers are gone, and hopefully never to be forgotten.

Sid Birns is a former UPI photographer out of the NYC office. He took this shot of the Twin Towers between 1973 and 1980. His son lives in Manchester Center.


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