St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message

Images of 9/11

Photographer Gary Marlon Suson says he was inspired by a visit to the Anne Frank House to create the Ground Zero Museum Workshop.

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press
Published September 9, 2005

[AP Photo]
Gary Marlon Suson sits beside his photographs inside the Ground Zero Museum Workshop. Suson spent eight months as the only all-access photographer at ground zero after the 9/11 attacks. His museum also has artifacts recovered at the site and video.
[AP Photo]
A star of David and a cross that firefighters working in the ground zero recovery effort cut from steel are among the museum artifacts.
[AP Photo]
An ash-covered doll is one of hundreds of artifacts collected by firefighters and Suson.

NEW YORK - Two days before the fourth anniversary of the 2001 attacks, a photographer is offering intimate images of death and love inside ground zero at a new museum that brings you nose-to-nose with the smoldering pit.

"If people want to come past the security gates and see what our world was like down in the hole, this is as close as they can come to it," said Gary Marlon Suson, the ground zero photographer for the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the city firefighters' main union.

Suson spent eight months at the site with recovery workers searching for the remains of the 2,749 people who died on a sunny September morning, including 343 firefighters. His time in "the pit" comes alive at the Ground Zero Museum Workshop of photographs, videos and artifacts, which opened to the public on Thursday.

Last year, Suson, 33, went to Amsterdam, Netherlands, and visited the home of Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who wrote a diary of her life before the Nazis sent her to the Bergen Belsen death camp.

"Within two hours of being in there, I felt like I'd come to know this little girl. It put a face on the Holocaust," Suson said. "I went back to the hotel and cried."

The experience inspired him to create the 1,000-square-foot museum, whose rooftop he stood upon in 2001 to take images of the trade center collapse.

"I felt, if I could create something that would have an effect on people similar to the one the Anne Frank museum had on me, it could help people connect more to 9/11. If you can't connect, you can't heal," he said.

At the second-floor museum in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, visitors are met by three-dimensional displays of photographs that pull the viewer close to the terror, dirt, sweat - and death.

Suson took one of the first photos of the firefighter honor guard that carried remains as they were found. He shot the scene in close-up, as he did other moments, such as a firefighter helping carry out the remains of his own son.

The museum has tangible vestiges of the twin towers, including pieces of window glass, lobby marble and jagged beam steel. One display case holds a beer can from 1971, when construction workers building the new towers shoved it between two steel beams before sealing them. The can was pried from the metal at ground zero, twisted and rusty.

One jarring item is a frozen clock, its simple black hands stopped at 10:02, and the small one at 14. The south tower collapsed first that day, at 10:02:14 a.m. The clock came from a room with a weightlifting bench used by PATH train workers.

Suson, an actor and playwright, contributed thousands of dollars toward the $60,000 museum; the rest came from private donations. Proceeds from the $15 entrance fee ($12 for seniors and children) will go to six charities linked to 9/11, some benefiting families.


Ground Zero Museum Workshop:

[Last modified September 8, 2005, 11:02:03]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters