By Alexandria Deters and Hunter Reynolds

September 11, 2021

WARNING: The slide show contains images of destruction in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001 that may be upsetting to view.

In May 2019, I had my first studio visit with Hunter Reynolds. During that visit he told me his experience of 9/11 in New York City. It was intense to say the least, and from it I realized that there was so much I did not know and understand about that day. The events before and afterward, the energy of the city before and after, and how the trauma from that day affected and still affects the NYC community.

After our studio visit, the entire next week I watched every documentary, read everything I could, to understand more because it was just so unreal and horrifying. How did this happen? Why did this happen? How did this city I have come to love and now call home ever recover?

Some of these questions will never have an answer, but one I do now know. The city healed and continued to thrive because of the people that composed it. It was a family of strangers doing everything and anything to help one another because the trauma they all were experiencing was too great, too horrible. They all knew however they had to go on, not forget, but live on in memory of the 2,996 lives stolen that day.

A couple of months ago, Hunter and I were discussing how the 20th anniversary of 9/11 was approaching. He told me he was ready and wanted to share more of the photos he took in the days following 9/11 at his cousin’s at 125 Cedar Street 11th floor home and studio. Over the years Hunter has gone back to his experiences during the year following 9/11 in different artworks and performances, for the 20th anniversary he is representing that experience in his own words and photos.

The photographs in the accompanying slideshow were taken during the following days and weeks after 9/11 by Hunter and Dianne. They document the damage to Dianne’s home, art, her city, and the Towers. The toxic dust that covered everything and everyone seen in Hunter and Dianne’s photos, has never left this city, even if physically it may have. It continues to cause damage and destruction through various types of cancers that have befallen untold thousands. Everyone that was there that day, everyone that came to help, anyone that tried to pick up the pieces of their life. The gray dust that covered the people and land of lower Manhattan is a ubiquitous and haunting reminder of that tragic day.

The photos that were taken are shocking and upsetting, the amount of destruction that was caused, words truly do not suffice. The photo of a man pushing a cart spray painted ‘BIO HAZARD’ filled with equipment is of Hunter taken a few days after 9/11 by Dianne during one of their trips to recover her artwork and belongings from her home and studio. The cart being pushed by Hunter was originally a USPS cart to move mail. In the aftermath of 9/11, those carts were used to collect evidence, bodies, and dismembered body parts surrounding Ground Zero.

Every New Yorker that lived through that day has their own story, memories, and tragedy.

This is Hunter Reynold’s My 9/11.

Hunter Reynolds:
On the evening of September 10th 2001 I went to the gay bar Boots & Saddles to have my favorite German beer on draft. In walked a hot German man from Berlin. I lived in Berlin for 8 years and was really missing my time there. Frank Haussler was on his first trip to America celebrating his graduation from seminary school to become a priest. We hit it off and he invited me to spend the night with him at his hotel in SoHo.

He told me that he was leaving the next morning to go back to Germany at 3pm and that he wanted to be up early and to have breakfast at Windows On The World at 8am and then go to the Observation deck at the top of the north tower. I said “OK I might go with you. I have never been to either place.”

Hunter and Frank ended up running late that morning, and never made it to the World Trade Center. Frank never had breakfast at Windows on the World. Instead, while watching the first tower being struck, Frank and Hunter both realized that if they had never connected that Monday night Frank would now be dead.

We ended up at Tribeca Park where we watched the Towers collapse. When the South Tower fell I thought of my cousin Dianne Blell, a well known artist and photographer, who lived on the 11th floor of the artist loft building at 125 Cedar Street, across from the South Tower. Wondering and worrying if her home was being crushed, that she might be hurt or killed. We found each other alive 3 days later. I spent the next three months doing a gorilla art recovery mission, retrieving her art and thousands of negatives and slides from her destroyed loft. We worked as volunteers at a nearby Korean rescue station which offered free food, drinks, coffee and miscellaneous rescue supplies for the first responders. We also infiltrated every security system in place to get into Ground Zero and access to 125 Cedar Street. Then I spent the next several months helping to restore her art and cleaning the WTC dust from 40 years of her photography. A lot was lost that day. Artists died and art was shattered and our hearts bled for our community of artists.

A lot was lost that day. Artists died and art was shattered and our hearts bled for our community of artists.

If you or anyone you know lived in lower Manhattan or parts of Brooklyn during the time of 9/11 and/or moved to that area within the following two years, please visit: