September 11 Digital Archive guarantees preservation of Here Is New York gallery

Here Is New York, the online gallery of images depicting the September 11 attacks and their aftermath, will not go the way of most website content, vanishing forever into the cyber-ether: Rather, this extensive and unique collection of photographs, taken by both amateurs and professionals, has a secure spot in the historical record.

Here Is New York is the latest acquisition of the September 11 Digital Archive. In addition to the nearly 7,000 professional and amateur images in the Here Is New York online gallery, the Archive contains more than 130,000 written accounts, e-mails, audio recordings, video clips, photographs, Web sites and other materials that document the attacks. These items will provide researchers with a major source of information about the attacks.

Here Is New York, created in response to the World Trade Center tragedy, began as a storefront exhibit in SOHO that, in addition to displaying professional photographs, invited amateurs to submit images. In accordance with the exhibit’s subtitle, “A Democracy of Photographs,” many of the amateur photographs were digitally scanned, printed and displayed on the walls alongside the work of professional photographers. All the displayed prints were sold for $25, regardless of their provenance. The net proceeds from the sale of these prints went to the Children’s Aid Society WTC Relief Fund.

The physical gallery no longer exists, and the project’s livelihood relies on its Web presence. The Internet is hardly an insurance policy for preservation and legacy, but now, as the Archive’s newest acquisition, Here Is New York will be available to future generations of historians and researchers.