Greetings from 9/11: Postcards from Ground Zero

September 6, 2016
This postcard was widely sold in New York City souvenir shops in the years before the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. ("Skyline With an Attitude," 1997, American Postcard Co., New York)

This postcard was widely sold in New York City souvenir shops in the years before the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. (“Skyline With an Attitude,” 1997, American Postcard Co., New York)

AFTER 9/11, THE TWIN TOWERS WERE GONE, BUT THE POSTCARDS DEPICTING THEM WERE NOT

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Sept 6, 2016 — In the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, when Times Square was largely deserted, I went there in search of postcards of the World Trade Center.

New York: The Wonder City

New York: The Wonder City

I had long collected New York City postcards, focusing mainly on the ones displayed on racks outside the souvenir stores — from Times Square to Greenwich Village.

The racks had handwritten signs on them offering as many as eight postcards for a dollar. I theorized the storekeepers placed these low-priced postcards outside their shops as a way of drawing the tourists inside, where they hoped they would spend more money.

So it was with a deep sense of satisfaction that I would choose my cards, walk inside, hand the cashier a dollar and then leave, foiling their plot to induce me to spend more.

The postcards on the outdoor racks were generally the oldest ones in the store’s inventory, obsolete and out-of-date, which is why I liked them. In the 1980s — the decade in which I arrived in New York City — I made an informal collection of postcards from these racks, targeting only the postcards with images from before the 1980s.

The pictures they were printed with were from bygone decades — from the 1970s, ’60s and ’50s.

Two images from the 1960s on postcards bought in New York in the 1980s. Playing at Radio City Music Hall the day the photo at left was taken: The 1968 movie "Hot Millions," starring Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Karl Malden and Bob Newhart -- the names visible on the marquee. Right: Wall Street with 1960s cars.

Two images from the 1960s on postcards bought in New York in the 1980s. Playing at Radio City Music Hall the day the photo at left was taken: The 1968 movie “Hot Millions,” starring Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Karl Malden and Bob Newhart — the names visible on the marquee. Right: Wall Street with 1960s cars.

In those days, I was drawn to postcards that struck me as odd, such as the one below showing the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Eighth Avenue. What were you supposed to write on this one to your friend or loved one? Wish you were here, at Port Authority?

My [fill in blank] went to New York and all I got was this postcard of Port Authority Bus Terminal.

“My [fill in blank] went to New York and all I got was this postcard of Port Authority Bus Terminal.”

Occasionally, I’d find some that were just beautiful, such as these two, below.

Central Park pond with buildings on Central Park South.

Central Park pond with buildings on Central Park South.

Hell Gate Bridge, East River.

Hell Gate Bridge, East River.

OLD POSTCARDS IN DESERTED SOUVENIR SHOPS 

With the Times Square souvenir shops and their postcard racks in mind, I hatched the idea of browsing there for World Trade Center postcards a few days after 9/11.

Perhaps I wished to find in the old postcards something to grab onto from the era which had fallen away mere days ago — the era before the World Trade Center became known as “Ground Zero.”

The Twin Towers, seen from Brooklyn.

The Twin Towers, seen from Brooklyn.

The idea came to me as I was seated in my cubicle at work, halfheartedly watching the TV coverage of the aftermath of the attacks.

Unable to fix my attention on the news coverage for very long, I contemplated the bare walls above my cubicle divider (I had never formed the habit of decorating my workspaces).  I wondered if tacking up a few World Trade Center postcards there would be an appropriate thing to do.

The office where I worked was one block east of Times Square, on Sixth Avenue between 47th and 48th streets. So at midday, off I went to the fabled “crossroads of the world” — a place that should have been crowded at that time of year with hordes of tourists.

This year, however, they had all gone home.  It was so quiet you could hear the revolving postcard racks creak as you turned them. Inside the normally bustling souvenir shops, there were now no customers. The store managers and cashiers looked morose, shell-shocked.

As I expected, postcards of the World Trade Center were still abundant — depicting the buildings in contexts that were both humorous and majestic.

In a way, this postcard was the most poignant of all of the World Trade Center postcards I found that were still for sale in the days after the towers were destroyed, because it was so lighthearted.

Because it was so lighthearted, this postcard was the most poignant of all of the World Trade Center postcards I found that were still for sale in the days after the Twin Towers were destroyed.

The postcard at the top at this blog post — with the title “Skyline With an Attitude” printed on the reverse — was purchased at around the same time as the King Kong postcard, above.  This “middle-finger” postcard was widely available for several years before the attacks, but it seems even more timely and appropriate after them.

I found postcards of the World Trade Center photographed from a variety of viewpoints — from New Jersey and Brooklyn, from the air and from the water.

Welcome to New York: Six views of the World Trade Center

Welcome to New York: Six views of the World Trade Center.

There were views of the buildings at all times of day.

The World Trade Center at night, and at sunrise.

The World Trade Center at night, and at dusk.

The ubiquitous towers were seen everywhere, even in the backgrounds of other postcards. Looking at the postcards today reminds me of what we used to say about the Twin Towers in the West Village, where we then lived and where the towers loomed from every angle. “Everywhere you look, they’re not there,” we would say in the days following the attacks.

The Twin Towers? From a hundred vantage points, you can't miss 'em.

The Twin Towers: From a hundred vantage points, you couldn’t miss them.

They’re even seen in this vintage postcard from long before 9/11, sent to me by a friend in 1981.

At lower left, this one is titled "Lower Manhattan Panorma."

This one is titled “Lower Manhattan Panorama.”

One of the postcards I found in Times Square was a work of art.

A 1988 painting by Richard Estes. He called it "The Michelangelo."

Postcard featuring a 1988 painting by photorealist Richard Estes. He called it “The Michelangelo.”

AFTER THE ATTACKS, THE TOWERS CAME DRAPED IN RED, WHITE & BLUE

Postcards of the World Trade Center took on a whole new look in the weeks after the attacks.

Postcards of the World Trade Center took on a whole new look in the weeks after the attacks.

It wasn’t long before the new postcards appeared — the ones with the Statue of Liberty crying, or the Twin Towers draped in elongated flags.

Suddenly, the postcards of the World Trade Center weren't very lighthearted anymore.

Suddenly, the postcards of the World Trade Center weren’t very lighthearted anymore.

The stars and stripes began to appear everywhere, even standing in for the very sky against which the Twin Towers once stood, as in these four postcards.

No blue skies here -- just red, white and blue.

No blue skies here — just red, white and blue.

Postcard designers cleverly incorporated the fluttering flags and their stars and stripes in a variety of ways.

Stars and stripes forever: Recipe for post-9/11 postcards: Take pre-9/11 postcards and then, just add flags.

Stars and stripes forever: Recipe for post-9/11 postcards: Take pre-9/11 postcards and then add flags.

Some postcards took up the theme of the World Trade Center’s lifespan — 1973-2001 — as if the buildings were a person who had just died. Well, maybe they did “live,” in a sense …

Here lies the World Trade Center 1973-2001.

Here lies the World Trade Center 1973-2001.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since the Towers fell.  What more is there to say? Greetings from Ground Zero, wish you were here?

Gone but not forgotten.

Gone but not forgotten.

Click: http://bit.ly/2aEBLFP

Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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Thank you for visiting AdamBuckman.com

March 9, 2016

Thank you for visiting my personal Web site, AdamBuckman.com.   For more information about me, Adam Buckman, please click on any of the pages on the right.

And please make sure and visit my TV blog, TVHowl.com.

Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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Now available on Amazon: My book ‘JERK’

March 6, 2015
Click on the pic to order "JERK" today!

Click on the pic to order “JERK” today!

It’s here!

Welcome to “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” by Adam Buckman, a journalist’s memoir of a 30-year career (so far) spent covering the television business.

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

Why “JERK”? Because “The Idiot” was already taken. Plus, a disgruntled reader once scrawled the word “Jerk” over the photo that accompanied my newspaper column and then mailed it to me, so I figured, yeah, that’s as good a title as any.

Read the book and you will understand why “JERK” is a more or less suitable title for this thing. Or maybe you won’t. Whether you get it or not, “JERK” is supposed to be a personal history of the TV business from the mid-1980s to the present, the era in which I covered it as a journalist. Whether it succeeds as “personal” history or any other kind of history, I leave that to others to determine.

This memoir drops a lot of famous names — Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, Jay Leno and dozens of others — in order to get more people to read it. At the same time, though, I’m proud to say that I didn’t have to contrive any of these name-dropping yarns either; every word of them is true.

“JERK” is also a brutally honest critic’s critique of his own work and behavior — something most critics would never attempt.

Read “JERK” today!

— Adam Buckman

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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