The Destruction of
Lower Manhattan, 1967
In the future, when people will look back at Sept 11, 2001, they might well
say, it was the high point of the American Empire.
New York City has been for many
years the center of the New Rome, and we are the Romans. Ironies
abound of course, as New York City is perhaps the most democratic
city in the Republic and one of the most democratic cities the world
has ever known. Never the less, as the Romans before us, there are
plenty of people who despise our power, and plenty of people that
will never be, nor do they ever want to be, citizens.
Thirty four years ago Bleak Beauty's
photographer recorded the demolition of mostly 19th century buildings
located below Chambers street in Lower Manhattan. On the east side
of the island, near the fish market, room was being made for a new
ramp onto the Brooklyn Bridge and for the expansion of Pace College.
On the west side, over 12 blocks of buildings were brought down
to make way for the future World Trade Center. In 1967, the year
these pictures were made, sixty acres of buildings in these two
areas were demolished. The photographs were published as a book,
sadly called, "The Destruction of Lower Manhattan."
The pictures presented here were
all made on the west side of Lower Manhattan, on or near the site
of the WTC. They are presented here out of love for the city. They
are also presented out of respect for the practice of photography,
and the warning that now especially, in these perilous times, photographers
must exhibit integrity in the use and control of their work.
The tragic attack on the Trade
Center was among the most photographed events of all time. Photographers
rushed to the scene. The catastrophe was photographed from every
spot and angle. Some ran towards it, some away from it, but the
bravest stood their ground as the cloud of destruction swept over
them. Within days Time Magazine had published a special issue,
including pictures by journalists as fine as Jim Nachtwey and Angel
Franco, both friends we have enormous respect for.
The fine pictures of these dedicated
and brave journalists are used to lure readers as the editorial
voice of Time Magazine beats
the drum beats of war. The result could not have been more twisted
if it had been edited by Joseph Goebbels. The issue stands as a
monument of media depravity, that can only make you wonder if the
Empire is worth saving. ("Time Inc." has not been "worth saving"
for fifty years.) Time's full page editorial calls on Americans
to unite in hate. "Let us have rage", writes Lance Morrow "a policy
of focused brutality". "America needs to relearn ... why human nature
has equipped us all with a weapon ... called hatred." That the Empire
might not be worth saving is not an original thought with Bleak
Beauty. It is a common idea among many young people today.
Photographers and journalists of
the world, unite and fight. You have nothing to lose but your jobs.
If you do not agree with the ideology presented along with your
work, then take your work elsewhere. Present it yourself. Create
your own magazines, your own networks and your own channels. Write
your own text and captions and editorials. Do not serve the gods
- Bleak Beauty