The Falling Man

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, four passenger jets were commandeered by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists after takeoff. Two of these hijacked airliners, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City, killing or trapping well over 1300 people above the 91st floor of the North Tower and more than 600 above the 76th floor of the South.



The Falling Man is a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew of a man falling from the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks in New York City. The unidentified man in the image was trapped on the upper floors of the North Tower, and it is unclear whether he fell while searching for safety or he jumped to escape the fire and smoke. The photograph was taken at exactly 9:41:15 A.M. on the day of the attacks.

The photograph was widely criticized after publication in international media on September 12, 2001, with readers labeling the image as disturbing, cold-blooded, ghoulish, and sadistic. However, in the years following, the photo has gained acclamation.

A Time magazine retrospective published in 2016 stated “Falling Man’s identity is still unknown, but he is believed to have been an employee at the Windows on the World restaurant, which sat atop the north tower. The true power of Falling Man, however, is less about who its subject was and more about what he became: a makeshift Unknown Soldier in an often unknown and uncertain war, suspended forever in history.”


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