Introduction: Ground Zero from the Air
On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked two commercial passenger jets and flew them into 1 and 2 World Trade Center (the "Twin Towers") in New York City. A third hijacked plane was flown into the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania en route to the Washington, D.C. area. Over 3,000 people, 2,753 of whom perished as a result of the attack on the World Trade Center, were killed in these coordinated attacks.
In the days and weeks that followed, local, state, and federal government agencies worked together at the World Trade Center site to recover the remains of the dead, assist survivors and the families of victims, process a mammoth crime scene, demolish partially collapsed buildings, remove debris, repair damaged infrastructure, and enable nearby schools, banks, and other essential institutions to reopen as quickly as possible.
This exhibit focuses on a single facet of the response led by the New York State Office for Technology (OFT), which hired mapping firm EarthData (now Fugro EarthData) to gather and process data documenting conditions at the World Trade Center site. Between September 15-October 22, 2001, EarthData flew over the site thirty-nine times and gathered data about the site's physical contours and temperature conditions. EarthData then used this information to create digital maps, videos, and other files that OFT and the New York State Police relayed to emergency personnel at the site. In late October 2001, EarthData sent copies of all of the raw data and some of its maps, overlays, and videos to OFT, which ultimately transferred the records to the State Archives for long-term preservation and access.
The images below depict the response as seen from the ground. Click on the thumbnails to view the images more closely.