Denton Tillman

May 9, 2002


September 4, 2011
I’ve always wondered whatever became of that project. It was very moving to see and hear myself relate that story again after all these years. The only thing I feel I left out in my story was my immediate reaction as I saw the plane go into the tower – I thought then, “All those people just died”. I felt the immensity of witnessing what I knew were hundreds of people perishing before my eyes. I was stunned and frozen for perhaps 7 or 8 seconds, as long as it took for the muffled “boom” to reach my ears. It was a startlingly small sound for such an incredible catastrophe. One would expect a sound like in the movies, or thunderclaps.

It was all brought back by the video. So much so that I began to shake from re-experiencing the event as I related how I felt to my girlfriend in Maui.

Because of my clear view of downtown, I have been making a photographic record of the resurrection of the World Trade Center area. I’ve watched it from the hot lights and smoke of the clean-up until the rising, new towers. I’m sure I have enough pictures to make a time-lapse video from all of my still images. Once One World Trade Center is complete, I will begin the process.

Strangely, for the summer of 1963 (maybe 1964) I worked on the graphics for The World Trade Center while in art school at Pratt. I worked in the architecture department of the Port Authority of New York – New Jersey, the builders of the complex.Later, as a professional photographer, I had a number of assignments photographing executives in a number of corporate suites, the last being Fiduciary Trust. I had dinner at Windows on the World several times and I always enjoyed taking out-of-towners to both the inside and outside observation decks. The Empire State Building has always been my favorite building and the view of it from there was magnificent. Almost as good as the view from the RCA Building where you could see the ESB plus the WTC and Statue of Liberty.

I have a long and storied connection to those buildings, – to that part of the city. Not to mention, when I was a small boy, my father was an Emergency Squad policeman in Little Italy and he would often take me to work. I would roam those downtown streets on my own. I loved it.

It has taken all these years to shake that horrible tragedy from my every day consciousness.
This video brought it all back again.

- Denny

  • Jimi

    What a thing like this to witness, Den… but what a view – from that roof top terrace of yours’, I know it all to well… & know you to be the photographer that you are,… well you took fabulous images, before and after… thank you for sharing with us this heart felt story and images…

  • Joyce

    As friends of Denny living on the west coast, our first awareness of what had happened to the World Traide Center was an emai Denny sent us describing the event. His eloquence brought the event to us in all it’s horrific detail. Thanks for sharing Denny.

  • Lisa Maxwell

    Your witness is our gift. Thank you.

  • Diana

    Having received the link to this video, it has taken me weeks to watch it. Thank God I did. 

    Denny and I worked together in Manhattan for years. He is not only rooted in the steel and concrete of the city, but to the blood and bone of every one who has come before to live and serve in that great city. I am astonished at Denny’s ability to articulate so beautifully and honestly his intimate relationship with this globally shared catastrophe. And I know the heavens conspired to place him as eternal witness to this event. His work is not only technically elegant, it is informed by a compassionate heart and timeless insight. I am honored  to call him friend.
    Diana Beaumont