The Twin Towers ruled the skyline of New York City. They captured the sun and changed color all day long. At night, their glow was visible from communities across New Jersey and Long Island. They were beautiful.
In 1995, I stood under the Brooklyn Bridge in a cobblestone Park now closed to the public. At my back was the Brooklyn tower of the bridge, a massive structure that seemed to dwarf my camera and tripod. The roadway above hummed with the noise of cars heading to lower Manhattan, their passengers unaware of the brilliant color filling the sky. As the red grew deeper, the Twin Towers stood out, like ancient landmarks claiming ownership of lower Manhattan.
©Mark D Phillips
20″ x 30″ Original Photo Print in Black Frame
Movers, Not Shakers! pop up Green Gallery presents “Lost and Found in Brooklyn” by Mark D Phillips on October 19 to 20, 2019, during the Gowanus Open Studios weekend.
The exhibit will feature Phillips’ photographic collection of images in and around Brooklyn, of scenes that no longer exist, including his haunting image of “Satan in the Smoke.” This is the first time he has publicly exhibited the image.
“Satan in the Smoke” was one of the first images of the 9/11 attack transmitted to newspapers. On September 13, 2011, Bryce Hoffman of The Saginaw News wrote:
A front-page photograph on more than 13,000 copies of Tuesday’s Saginaw News has prompted some to believe that Satan himself presided over terrorist attacks on the United States.
In the next weeks, Phillips received nearly 20,000 emails with “Is it Real?” asked over and over. The photo was shot on an early digital camera and, with no negative, there were many who questioned the authenticity of the image including The New York Times.
Phillips had to go to extraordinary lengths to defend his reputation, sending the original digital file to the camera manufacturer, Olympus, who verified the image as real. “Satan in the Smoke: A Photojournalist’s 9/11 Story” is available on Amazon.com and tells Phillips’ personal story of an event that he never expected to be a defining moment in his photographic career.
9/11 took away many iconic views of the city from Brooklyn, and for a decade the lower Manhattan skyline was completely devoid of any tower on the World Trade Center site.
For years, the Twin Towers dominated the skyline. One of his favorite images of the buildings was shot from the cobblestone park at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge tower in DUMBO during a brilliant red sunset with the skyline dwarfed by the bridge roadway. The area was closed to the public following 9/11.
Brooklyn’s neighborhoods have changed radically in the three decades of Phillips’ photographic career. Gentrification turned abandoned buildings in DUMBO and Red Hook into luxury condominiums and mega stores. The trolleys disappeared from Red Hook, the Gowanus Canal became a Superfund site, and many of the ethnic lifestyles vanished.
In one of Phillips’ first photographs shot after moving to Brooklyn in 1989, taken from the Third Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal next to Movers, Not Shakers, the World Trade Center can be seen peeking above a lumber yard with reflections of the open sky on the water’s surface. Luxury condos and new developments line the left bank of the canal.
This will be the third year that Phillips’ images will be on display in the unique Green Gallery created from reusable packing bins during the Gowanus Open Studio weekend.
“The photography that Mark has captured over the years of the Gowanus Canal and surrounding areas is captivating, filled with images that create that sense of deja vu of looking back to Brooklyn’s past, and allows one to reflect on how much has changed here over the last 30 years. Our team is excited to create a space within our warehouse that will be a unique way to view our friend Mark’s photographs in a quickly disappearing industrial setting,“ said Mark Ehrhardt, owner of Movers, Not Shakers!.