The WTC Living History Project

Scholars have weighed the position of the WTC attack in American History as only rivaled by Civil War Gettysburg in importance and scale of losses. Imagine if Civil War generals and lieutenants, from both North and South, got together after the war, reviewed and documented the facts and then jointly told the story. Would not this historical account be closer to the “truth” than any told by minor players, journalists, hangers-on or political figure-heads? Among the various versions of facts, which perspective would civil war buffs later choose as the most accurate? We live now, as we did then, in world of competing ideas where histories are lived by some but written by others whose voices become the authorities. Art Science Research Laboratory’s proposed WTC Living History Project gives the key players who actually ran Ground Zero a unique opportunity to participate in creating a new approach to documenting history and to have their own views heard. Four projects encompass our main focus;

  • A. Determine the 8 perspectives from inside Ground Zero (construction, iron workers, engineering, supply and logistics, NYPD/ESU, PAPD, FDNY victims’ family members and workers in recovery). Specifically and systematically use each of these 8 perspectives as a complete and consistent set of lenses and references for the collection, analysis and critique of events and facts.
  • B. Identify and plot the major facts and events, as well as their clusterings, in a WTC Time Line, moving from September 11, 2001 to July 2, 2002.
  • C. Examine the above WTC Time Line at 3 scales:
    • 1. Determine an overall, “biggest picture” characterization of time period divisions and name them.
    • 2. Add week to week information to this large sale, general structure (using the same Time Line and major facts and events from above (B); and the 8 perspectives of running Ground Zero (A).
    • 3. Focus and add on the most outstanding facts and events on a day to day basis and details (using the same Time Line and the 8 perspectives of running Ground Zero).
  • D. Explore the structures of the various squabbles within our group (from the 8 perspectives that ran Ground Zero) as an integral part of the story (for example: all of uniform services versus construction; FDNY versus cops; day versus night tours in the same department, etc.) in contrast with the larger and more important power struggle that our internal group shared against the external “behind the desk” politicians. Just as one could generalize that tie-backs in the slurry wall controlled the entire WTC job, the fight between “speed in debris removal” versus “the civilized recovery of human remains” embodied the one over-arching and driving conflict that both separated us from the external administrators and joined us (in our 8 perspectives that actually did the work at Ground Zero) into a common goal.