On 9/11, many people recall a day that began like any other, marked by a strikingly clear blue sky. They can vividly identify where they were or what they were doing as the attacks began to unfold.
Prior to the crash of the first plane into the North Tower, New York was bustling with activity, typical of the morning rush. Parents sent children off to school, which had just resumed after Labor Day. Many hastened to the polls to do their civic duty by voting in the city’s primary elections. Some slept in, slow to shake off the Monday Night Football game that ran late into the night. In retrospect, these quotidian activities may have played a substantial role in saving lives, as they placed many World Trade Center employees far from their workstations, delaying the early birds.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is actively acquiring materials relating to the Sept. 11 primaries as part of a larger effort to document the disruptions to notions of “normalcy” that prevailed before 8:46 a.m.. One example is a campaign button worn by supporters of Betsy Gotbaum, who was running as a Democrat for public advocate. Gotbaum was on the streets that morning, urging passerby’s to vote. After the attacks, then-governor George Pataki declared a statewide emergency and rescheduled the elections for Sept. 25. The button recalls New York City’s focus on the hotly fought contests across the five boroughs.
Other election-related materials in the permanent collection include various brochures, pamphlets and mailers. This collection is a work in progress, and the museum’s curator would be eager to receive additional Sept. 11 primary day artifacts. All are invited to help participate in the creation of the exhibition by sharing memories, objects, photos and other materials with Museum. Donate through our website or contact the Memorial and Museum by phone, 212 312 8800.
By Jan Ramirez, Chief Curator of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Alexandra Drakakis, Administrative Curatorial Assistant for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum contributed.