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Newly Digitized 9/11 Album Shows Attacks From Rarely Seen Angle

An album showing photos of the September 11 attacks as taken by Liam Enea's relative.
Liam Enea
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An album showing photos of the September 11 attacks as taken by Liam Enea's relative.

A Connecticut teenager found a forgotten piece of history in a family album — photos of the September 11 attacks taken by a relative from a high-rise apartment in the Financial District.

Liam Enea is from Brookfield — he’s a sophomore at the University of Connecticut. He says his grandmother recently passed away. And before she died, she gave Liam’s mother a photo album of pictures taken by her sister — Liam’s great-aunt.

A photo of the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
Credit Courtesy of Liam Enea
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A photo of the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

One photo shows the south tower in mid-collapse. Liam says many show the attacks from an angle he hasn’t been able to find in any other pictures from the day. Not that many photos were taken from nearby high-rise windows, compared to photos from street level. He tells WSHU's Davis Dunavin that he became fascinated with the pictures and talks about his relative.

Davis Dunavin: Her name was Marianne, is that right?

Liam Enea: Marianne Paglisi, yes.

DD: Tell me a little about her. I have to imagine she had stories of her experience.

LE: She was traumatized by the events of that day. Watching that it happened right from her terrace where she was living. That’s about as terrifying as it can get, watching something like this something basically happen in your backyard. And she was able to take these photos in what I would consider wartime photography. She was badly affected by that, and she moved away from New York City a few years after it happened.

DD: I wonder if you could describe to me a few of the photos.

An image of the hole that Flight 11 left in the North Tower on September 11, 2001.
Credit Courtesy of Liam Enea
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  LE: The first one is of the north tower blaring against the blue sky of that day. You could see the hole of where American Airlines Flight 11 impacted the tower, and the looming smoke coming out of the wound into the building. I would say the first photo is the most searing one, because it was taken about a minute after the first plane hit. And from the perspective it was taken, it was in a high-rise building just north of the World Trade Center complex, you can see the entire tower along with the people on the ground looking up at it.

Liam Enea
Credit Davis Dunavin / WSHU Public Radio
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WSHU Public Radio
Liam Enea

I decided to put them on the internet for posterity. And that’s when I got to the process of posting them on Tiktok and Reddit, which is where it happened to garner a lot of attention. One of the most interesting reactions that I found to it was a person who commented on the Reddit post saying they could see themselves in one of the pictures that my great-aunt took. She took a photo of the plume of the South Tower rolling north up the West Side Highway. And you could see civilians running from it, it almost looks like an action movie. And the person was able to circle in on where they would have been.

DD: Right, and there were a lot of different responses, kind of a wide range of emotional reactions. What did you take away from that?

LE: Well, it’s interesting to see that other people had their own collections of photographs that they took on that day that they never shared with the world. You can see that a lot of people are holding something in.

DD: You were born after 9/11, right?

LE: Yes, three months actually to the day after 9/11.

The Twin Towers collapse on September 11, 2001.
Credit Courtesy of Liam Enea
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  DD: It’s been a fact of life for your entire life. How do you think of the day as somebody born after it happened, but obviously someone for whom it sounds like it still holds a lot of emotional impact?

LE: To me, it’s always felt that 9/11 was the inflection point between the 20th century and the 21st century, not January 1, 2000. Seeing that we had gone from a period of prosperity and happiness to being immediately fearful makes me wonder what this old world looked like, and I imagine that’s something I can never truly experience in a post-9/11 world.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.