Each August and September, as summer fades into fall, Yahoo News photographer Gordon Donovan finds himself in a familiar spot — snapping images in the area where the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place.
“I do it because I love the city, the history of the city and how we’re not going to be put down,” explained Donovan, who was born and raised on Staten Island and watched the twin towers being built from across the harbor.
But his photos aren’t random shots of the evolving downtown landscape. He returns to document the exact scenes of many memorable images taken by photojournalists that awful day in 2001.
“It’s fascinating to see how it has changed over the years, because it was just this big pile of rubble the first time I went down there, about a week afterward,” said Donovan, then a graphic artist at CBS News, who was at work on the Upper West Side the morning of the attack.
Today a memorial and museum honor the nearly 3,000 people killed. The area also includes a recently opened transportation hub, and there are other signs of development yet to come.
“Now you can’t even recognize what happened,” Donovan said. “What they’ve done down there is beautiful and just revitalized the whole area after such tragedy and brought it back to life.”
Donovan’s then-and-now project, he said, is a testament to the city’s strength and an opportunity to share the changes with New Yorkers who may have moved away over the past 16 years. He said his project also honors the photojournalists who took the original images on 9/11.
Drag the slider across each pair of images to see changes in the New York City landscape.
Looking downtown from the ‘Top of the Rock’
2001: The twin towers of the World Trade Center burn behind the Empire State Building, Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Patrick Sison/AP)
2018 One World Trade Center towers above the landscape in lower Manhattan behind the Empire State Building, Sept. 15 2018. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
Across the East River in Brooklyn
2001: Pedestrians on the waterfront in Brooklyn look across the East River to the burning World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Henny Ray Abrams/AFP/Getty Images)
2018: People take photographs of the New York City skyline from Pier 1 at the Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
World Trade Center survivors covered in dust
2001: People struggle through debris near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Gulnara Samoilova/AP)
2018: Pedestrians make their way along Fulton Street next to St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church on Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
Across the Brooklyn Bridge
2001: Women wearing dust masks flee from Manhattan to Brooklyn on the Brooklyn Bridge following the collapse of both World Trade Center towers, Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP)
2018: People head toward Brooklyn from Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, on Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
Subway stop on Cortlandt Street
2001: A destroyed subway station near Ground Zero on the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. (Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP)
2018: Traffic along Church Street passes the Cortlandt Street subway station on Sept. 5, 2018, across the street from Three World Trade Center. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
Vesey Street covered in debris
2001: A firefighter walks amid the rubble near the base of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Peter Morgan/Reuters)
2018: Commuters head to work at the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
World Trade Center skeleton
2001: The remains of the World Trade Center stand amid the debris following the terrorist attack on the buildings in New York, Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Alexandre Fuchs/AP)
2018: The World Trade Center buildings and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum are seen from West Street on Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
Covered in dust from collapse of towers
2001: Pedestrians on Beekman St. flee the area of the collapsed World Trade Center in lower Manhattan following a terrorist attack on the New York landmark, Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Amy Sancetta/AP)
2018: A man walks past a parking garage on Beekman Street in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
The Sphere at the World Trade Center
2001: Fritz Koenig’s “The Sphere,” a 25-ton sculpture that once graced the plaza at the World Trade Center lies in the wreckage following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (Photo: Shawn Baldwin/AP)
2018: “The Sphere” has been relocated to Liberty Park, which overlooks the World Trade Center memorial. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
Fire truck covered in debris
2001: A fire truck is surrounded by dust and debris near the site of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Bernadette Tuazon/AP)
2018: Seventeen years after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, construction continues on Greenwich and Rector Streets in New York City, Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
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