The first time I stood at the World Trade Center site after the clean up was complete, I had a very strong feeling that something important would rise there.
It was 2006, and the site was an empty hole. The walls of the site, known as The Bathtub, were a powerful reminder of just how close the city came to losing lower Manhattan. The loss on that day was terrible beyond words -- but the straight the city showed was etched on my mind.
And so, for the past five years I've worked to record the reconstruction efforts at the World Trade Center.
And now, I can share what I've witnessed with you.
Because I'm a filmmaker, photographer, and writer, I wanted to use all of those tools to give reader a chance to see what I'd seen, and literally watch the site and the Memorial evolve and emerge.
But, at the same time I was sensitive to the fact that people were suffering 9/11 fatigue... that the shear number of documentaries and articles was leaving people defensive and a bit numb.
So, rather than a book or a film... I made the somewhat controversial decision to create an App for the iPad.
Today, it is free on the App Store - live and able to be downloaded for anyone around the world who wants to explore it.
In it you'll find three sections - Past, Present, and Future.
The Past starts with some amazing old video of the construction of the Twin Towers. Grainy old footage that reminds us just how long ago the early '70's were. The Past section includes some never before seen video of the day of 9/11, as well as powerfully emotional scene in Union Square from my film "7 Days In September" and a music video recorded by the band LIVE, and their lead singer Ed Kowalczyk.
The Present is today. Nine sections of video and almost 400 never before seen images... including sections on Construction, The Pools, The Names, the Engineering, and a series of interviews with Memorial Architect Michael Arad.
The Future explores the powerful underground Memorial Museum currently under construction that will open on September 11th, 2012. More than seven stories deep - the huge cavernous space includes the story of The Last Column, artifacts from the site that were rescued and returned, and the stories of the victims - each of their stories protected and shared.
The 9/11 Memorial: Past, Present, and Future isn't a book in the conventional sense of the word. It's an environment, a collection of images, videos, and voices, that puts the control of the journey in the hands of the reader.
My decision -- to make it digital, and to make it free seemed so simple and so right. But, as with all things 9/11 nothing is simple. From the moment the App was announced there were questions. Why wasn't it on Android? Why wasn't it a web site. Why was it digital. Why wasn't it free forever? The answers are all simple. It is what it is. It is on the iPad because it felt right. it isn't on the iPhone because I didn't want the images or the experience to be small. It isn't a website because I wanted people to be able to 'hold history in their hands' - and idea that felt right from the moment we considered it. I wanted the story of the Memorial to be personal, private, connected and safe. Not something you explore during your lunch break at work. Or that you viewed on your flat screen at home. But something that you held, explored, and returned to -- as the material spoke to you.
But most importantly -- I wanted to do something. I wanted to make sure that I didn't keep the things I'd learned, and the people I'd had the privilege to know to myself.
So I hope you'll consider downloading the App -- it's free. Even if you aren't ready to explore it today or during this very emotional weekend, at some point, when you wonder 'what did the build at the WTC site' or start to plan your visit, you'll have the story. The story of the construction, of the Names an their Meaningful Adjacencies, and the voices of people like Lou Mendes and Jan Ramirez - people who've dedicated their lives to tell the story and rebuild the site. Leaders like Joe Daniels and Alice Greenwald who've turned ideas into action - and led a team of passionate professionals.