Ephemera: "Faces of Ground Zero"

  • December 30, 2021

This marks the third in a series of guest blog posts from collector Michael Ragsdale, who has been amassing New York City event-specific ephemera and autographs since 1997. Ragsdale took up collecting as a hobby while working as a cameraman for C-SPAN, Columbia University, the Manhattan Institute, and the New York-Presbyterian Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell. Following September 11, he shifted his focus to items pertaining to the attacks and their aftermath. Here, he shares background on a brochure from the 2002 "Faces of Ground Zero" exhibition at Rockefeller Center. The life-sized Polaroids comprising that exhibition are now part of the Museum's collection: view a selection of them here

A bi-fold brochure shows a fireman holding his helmet on the left, and black ink on white paper on the left.
Courtesy Michael Ragsdale

Around the time of the first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, I visited the very special "Faces of Ground Zero" exhibition at Rockefeller Center. Exhibited in a huge tent were 9'x4' photographs of emergency workers, survivors, public figures, and relatives of victims of the attacks. 

The life-size photos were shot by Joe McNally during a three-week period shortly after 9/11, on a garage-size, unique Giant Polaroid camera at a studio near Ground Zero. Most of the images were of firefighters standing in full firefighter regalia holding axes, shovels, flashlights, or picks. 

"Faces of Ground Zero" was also exhibited in Boston and as far away as San Francisco and London. A companion photo book of the exhibition was published in 2002. To mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks, more than 50 images were put on display at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. I also visited it. 

Previous Post

Ephemera: Sustaining Our Healing Spirit

A flyer for a special event, featuring black type on white paper with a blue signature at the bottom

We continue our series of guest posts by collector Michael Ragsdale, who focuses on New York City event-specific ephemera from the period following September 11. In this second installment, Ragsdale shares the story behind an autographed flyer for a talk given by Carl Hammerschlag, MD. 

View Blog Post

Next Post

The Crystal Ball of Hope

Rounded panel of engraved triangular crystals

We look back on the very special crystal ball that came to define the 2001 New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, and which is now part of the Museum's collection. 

View Blog Post