9/11: the World Trade Center in images, 1970-2001

·3-min read

As the world marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this weekend, users on TikTok and YouTube are commemorating the World Trade Center in images. Despite the record-setting height of its Twin Towers, with their unforgettable views of New York City, extracts from news reports and amateur videos are a reminder that the World Trade Center was also a workplace like any other office complex.

Launched in December 2020 on TikTok, the “footage_of_the_wtc” account has published more than 150 videos filmed between 1970 and September 2001. The videos, filmed in and around the Twin Towers, have attracted comments from users around the world recounting their own memories of the buildings.

One of the earliest videos on the account shows the complex under construction, in 1970:

Just a year after its inauguration in 1973, the World Trade Center was the site of a spectacular feat by French tightrope walker Philippe Petit. On August 7, 1974, after six years of planning, Petit crossed between the towers on a cable he and his team had snuck into the buildings illegally.

This 1984 video shows aerial views of the 110-story towers, which were 515 and 517 metres high.

Another video, from 1987, shows the complex at ground level, including images of the sculpture "The Sphere" by Fritz Koenig, designed to symbolise how trade can promote world peace. The sculpture would later be recovered from the wreckage and become a symbol of the 2001 attacks.

On February 26, 1993, the World Trade Center was the target of an initial terrorist attack: a truck bomb exploded in the basement, killing six people and injuring 1,042 others. This video on the “footage_of_the_wtc” account shows the moments following the blast.

On YouTube, the architectural channel Nathan9104 has published numerous videos of life inside the World Trade Center. This video from 1994 shows office workers and a kitchen in World Trade Center 7, a building next to the twin towers that was also destroyed in 2001.

Other videos on the account were made by tourists who made their way to the top of the southern tower to take in the views of New York.

'I wanted to show how it was a place that was simple but extraordinary'

The founder of the account, who goes by the name "Archie" and says he works in construction, spoke to the FRANCE 24 Observers. He asked not to be identified.

"My aim is to show these videos to people so they can see what life in the towers was like. I love the World Trade Center. I always loved the World Trade Center and I wanted to show how it was a place that was simple but extraordinary at the same time.

I collected the videos with help from friends who send them to me, or by searching on YouTube and other sites. I look on all kinds of sites. My personal favourite would be a video of WTC 3 (the Marriott hotel). It stands out and the interior is beautiful."

The video was filmed three days before the attack. The Marriott, 22 stories high, stood at the bottom of the twin towers, and was connected to them.

This video, filmed on September 10, 2001, shows the World Trade Center less than 24 hours before it was destroyed.

“Footage_of_the_wtc” includes numerous videos shot on September 11, 2001, including this rare video showing emergency workers in the north tower at the moment the south tower collapsed.

This video shows the collapse of the south tower from a different angle:

This video, filmed on September 12, 2001, shows New Yorkers paying homage at the site the day after the attacks.

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