I had only ever seen New York in the

On the screen it was the coolest place on

Everyone in the world knew the Empire
State and the Twin Towers and Central

It was the centre of the world.

Friends lived there.

Fashion lived there.

Photography lived there.
We arrived in New York at around 5am.

The ship has crossed the Atlantic from
Southampton in bad weather.

Everyone had woken up early just to see
Manhattan. We all leant over the ship railings,
craning our necks to see our first glimpse of the

There it was, those two towers standing perfectly
upright on this small concrete island, swathed in
the grey of an early winter morning.

It was like seeing someone in famous in real life.
It felt real and unreal.

It was thrilling.
If you didn’t grow up in New York
it’s hard to describe what it’s like to
experience as a visitor.

There aren’t streets there are

There aren’t people there are
masses, from every nation on Earth.

Everything is bigger and faster than

You do not visit the city, you are
carried with it.
I watched the clouds roll in over the
East River and thought about the
generations that had come here looking
for a new life.
I walked back and forth across the
Brooklyn Bridge, feeling small as I
was part of thousands of people on
that bridge making their own
memories that day.
Brooklyn Bridge
I tried to channel all the photographers who had
inspired me to pick up a camera when I visited
Times Square.
I put my chin against the gleaming
steel of the Twin Towers and
looked up and marveled at how
they disappeared into infinity.
How could humans could build
anything so impossibly tall?
A year later I saw them burn and
collapse and in my naivety I
would would ask how humans
could be so impossibly angry
This sculpture “Ideogram” by James Rosati
blended and stood out in the plaza between the

It would be crushed under their weight as they
imploded into the ground.
At the USS Intrepid I would see some of the
aircraft I had so slavishly worshipped as a kid
after I saw “Top Gun”.

I juxtaposed this A6 Intruder with the Stars and
Stripes, these fetishised icons I’d consumed so
This is part of a photograph I was so proud of:
this tattered flag lit brilliantly by the sharp early
winter sun.

It’s everything I believe America is: brilliant,
flawed, larger than life.

Chris is a photographer and visual storyteller.

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