Ground Zero Photo Inspires 15-Year Pursuit

Four visitors stand beside the reflecting pool on a warm evening. The trees of Memorial plaza line the reflecting pool around them.
Visitors reflect on the 9/11 Memorial plaza. Photo by Jin Lee.

A crinkled photograph found in the rubble at ground zero prompted Australian photographer Nathan Edwards to embark on a 15-year search to find the young woman and toddler pictured in the snapshot, according to an article for News Corp Australia.

During a temporary assignment with the New York Post in 2001, Edwards was tasked with documenting and photographing downtown New York City following the events of 9/11. In the midst of capturing thousands of other images, Edwards stumbled across a family photo, calling it a “searing jolt of normal on a day when it seemed there would never be normal again,” and snapped a shot of the picture.

“Just to find that picture in the rubble when everything else was ground to dust — I guess it felt like a bit of a sign,” Edwards told News Corp Australia. “From the moment I found it, I wanted to know who the people were, and I really wanted them to be alive.”

Spending years tracking down firemen, survivor groups and eventually turning to social media, Edwards regularly searched for the woman and child in the photograph. This past February, his tireless searching paid off when a member of a survivor’s network provided him with a name – Jennifer Rothschild-Robinson, the woman in the photograph.

On Sept. 11, Robinson was on vacation in Cape Cod with her husband. Robinson’s office at Ohrenstein & Brown was on the 86th floor of the North Tower, seven floors above where hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center, according to the article. That day, Robinson lost her friends and colleagues, Ann Marie Riccoboni and Valerie Murray.

The photo Edwards found was taken when Robinson took her 5-month-old daughter Isabelle to her office in December 2000. Edward’s photograph ran in the New York Post on Sept. 12, 2001, prompting calls to the Robinson’s home to check on the family.

The Robinson family placed the page torn from the newspaper on the fridge to remind them of their “remarkable good fortune.” It was their wish to find the photographer, “to see if he took the same kind of meaning from his experience as they did,” according to the article.

Robinson told News Corp that she “had always wondered who is the photographer and thought how lucky I am, but it didn’t occur to me how much it meant to him.”

Connecting first on social media and then in person earlier this year, Edwards joined the Robinson family in a visit to the 9/11 Memorial, the first time Jen had been back since 2001.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

Previous Post

New Our City. Our Story. Podcast: A Changing Brooklyn

Harold Buisson poses for a photo in a suit and tie.

Born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, Harold Buisson has seen the borough transform dramatically since 9/11.

View Blog Post

Next Post

The Lens: Capturing Life and Events at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The Twin Towers are seen under construction in this black-and-white photo taken from New York Harbor in the 1970s.

The Lens: Capturing Life and Events at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a photography series devoted to documenting moments big and small that unfold at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

View Blog Post