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 City Lore                                                                September, 2011  


• 9/11: the City Lore Chronicles • Martha Cooper Book Launch

Dear Citylorists,

Please enjoy our Tours and Tales September 2011 e-letter!

Mural in Bronx
Mural in Bronx, photo by Martha Cooper

• 9/11: the City Lore Chronicles  In the days that followed 9/11, City Lore undertook the task of documenting the shrines and memorials that cropped up in the vast memorial garden that New York became in those mournful days. In 2002, as we planned for our exhibit, Missing: Streetscape of a City in Mourning, which was soon to open at the New York Historical Society, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett suggested that we should have a small gallery set aside for contemplation where visitors could sit quietly amidst art inspired by the tragic events and contemplate their meaning. Her suggestion proved portentous. By the time the exhibit opened, we were already fighting one war and contemplating another. The significance of the shrines continually shifted as politics and media conspired to use the shrines as the backdrop for a patriotic fervor to justify those conflicts.

10 years later, with the wars (hopefully) winding down, we return to the heartfelt response of the city itself – to NYC’s lowest and highest moments. In that light, City Lore decided to bring our work surrounding the tragedy together in the 9/11: the City Lore Chronicles. Here, you can find four initiatives true to the spirit that used art to quench the torrent of grief and horror that engulfed us on those dreadful days. On this the 10th anniversary, let us celebrate the city as well as mourn those we lost.

As Marci Reaven and I wrote for the Missing exhibit, ordinary people started the memorials, sustained them, rendered them meaningful. Thousands took part. They neither asked permission from our city officials nor waited for religious or civil authorities to say how we should respond. New Yorkers showed an amazing instinct and ability to use public spaces all over the City to gather and express themselves, and, in many cases, to give others an opportunity to do the same. The magnitude of these public expressions of grief seemed to mirror the enormity of the loss. 9/11: the City Lore Chronicles are a tribute to this great city where, despite all its potential for anonymity and alienation, people seemed able to create places where humanity could re-stake its claim. To find those moments and visit those ephemeral sites of memory once again, access the five wonderful and interrelated projects which continue to resonate:

  • Missing: Streetscape of a City in Mourning. This virtual tour of the Missing exhibit, curated by City Lore, about New York City’s heartfelt response to 9/11, ran from March 8 to July 7, 2002 at the New-York Historical Society.
  • A photographic gallery of images by Martha Cooper. City Lore’s acclaimed Director of Photography, Martha Cooper, chronicled the shrines and memorials that marked NYC’s response to the tragedy beginning on 9/11.
  • The web site, Race for the Sky: Songs for New York and 9/11. Lisa Radakovich Holsberg visited City Lore’s Missing exhibit at the New-York Historical Society in 2002. As a classical singer, she was inspired to work with composer Richard Pearson Thomas to put some of the poems found in the shrines and memorials and collected for the exhibit to music.
  • Two "Tower" poems assembled as a response to 9/11. Following the tragedy, City Lore worked with the poet Bob Holman to recreate the World Trade Towers in words. Each of the two tower poems are 110 lines, one for each floor of the Towers. Each line was contributed by a different poet. Tower One was assembled from poets who answered our call; for Tower Two, we invited well known poets to submit lines.
  • Poems Posted in the Wake of September 11th. This essay by folklorist Steve Zeitlin addresses the poems found in the shrines and memorials following 9/11

Return, Remember - Ephemeral Memorials in the Legacy of September 11th
Photo by Martha Cooper


• Return, Remember — Ephemeral Memorials in the Legacy of September 11th, A panel discussion and book party  As the permanent 9/11 memorial becomes a reality at Ground Zero, this panel discussion, with Q and A, assesses the legacy of the spontaneous, ephemeral memorials created all over New York in the weeks after the attack. It includes a reading by Bob Holman of the Tower Poems, described above, and music composed for the poems posted on walls and buildings after September 11th. The panel is followed by a book signing for the launch of Martha Cooper’s, Remembering 9/11 (New York: Mark Batty Publisher, 2011), a selection of photographs highlighting Cooper’s 2001 documentation of spontaneous memorials in New York City.


Martha Cooper, renowned documentary photographer
Steve Zeitlin, Director of City Lore, whose organization was immediately involved in helping preserve representative 9/11 memorials
Kay Turner, Folk Arts Director, Brooklyn Arts Council, who has written on memorial and related traditions
Lisa Radakovich Holsberg, Soprano & faculty of the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University
Marci Reaven, Vice President for History Exhibitions, New York Historical Society
Bob Holman, Poet
Harriet F Senie, Director of Museum Studies and Professor of Art History, City College

What: Return, Remember: Ephemeral Memorials in the Legacy of September 11th
When: Tuesday, September 6, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Where: The Powerhouse Arena, 37 Main Street ( intersection Water St.), in Dumbo, Brooklyn (F train to York)
Admission: Free
For more information: Brooklyn Arts Council 718.625.0080

Please forward this email to your friends and encourage them to join the City Lore’s email list!

Enjoy the City!


City of Memory is sponsored by City Lore and Local Projects.  It was funded by The Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

City Lore is part of a cultural coalition called CATCH, to promote the City’s cultural heritage. Check out the web sites of our wonderful partners, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, the Latino Children’s Theater, SEA, and the World Music Institute.

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