The Summer After 9/11, A Photographer Documents A City's Healing

The Summer After 9/11, A Photographer Documents A City's Healing

8:00am Sep 11, 2021
Left: Upper West Side; Right: Harlem. Summer 2002
Left: Upper West Side; Right: Harlem. Summer 2002
Lucas Foglia

This is how I remember New York City during the first summer after the September 11 attacks. I was 19 years old and had just moved to Manhattan from my family's farm on Long Island.

Workers were removing the last of the debris from the collapsed Twin Towers. People were coming outside again. The parades were packed. Much of the city felt alive, hopeful, and strong – even in the shadow of the event that had just happened 9 months before.

Other areas were more guarded — the people I photographed at the Pakistan Day Parade, for example, were much more cautious and talked about the deep prejudice they'd experienced. And the people I met who'd lost loved ones were still deeply in mourning.

I photographed that summer because I wanted to show the city healing, both in celebration and unity, and with some scars. I walked through the city's five boroughs with my camera. When someone made eye contact with me, I asked if I could make a portrait of them.

At first, I assumed people would respond with caution. I was a stranger. The city was recovering from an event that shook its sense of security. Yet, most people said yes and looked straight into my camera lens. I tried to portray everyone with dignity, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity.

Published by Stanley/Barker on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, this book is a counterpoint to the militarization and polarization that happened following 9/11.

Now, as the world begins to heal from the coronavirus pandemic, I hope this book reminds people to approach strangers with empathy, across social distances.

Lucas Foglia is a photographer, exhibiting his work internationally in galleries, festivals, and museums. He is represented by Michael Hoppen Gallery in London, MiCamera in Milan, and Fredericks & Freiser Gallery in New York City. He also photographs for numerous magazines and collaborates with non-profit organizations on social and environmental causes. Summer After, published by Stanley/Barker, is his fourth book. Follow Foglia on instagram for more work: @lucasfogliaphoto

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit
Support your
public radio station