Skip to content
Lucas Foglia in BBC News

Lucas Foglia was 19 years old during the first summer after the September 11 attacks, and had just moved to Manhattan from Long Island.

He worked in Arnold Newman's photography studio and - after hours and at weekends - he walked through the city's five boroughs with his camera.

"When someone made eye contact with me, I asked if I could make a portrait of them. At first, I assumed people would respond with caution. The city was recovering from an event that shook its sense of security. Yet most people said 'yes' and looked straight into my camera lens. I am grateful they chose to trust me."

Here are some of those New Yorkers' recent reflections on the attacks on their city.

Desiree Blakis grew up in Greenpoint with her mother and grandmother. She had met Dorota when her family moved in next door on Eagle Street.

"In third grade we had the strictest teacher ever. The littlest thing and she would make us stand and look out the window in complete silence. Our view from the school was the whole city.

"On 9/11, me and another student got in trouble. And while we were facing the window, we literally saw the plane go through the tower. We started screaming: "Oh my God! Look! A plane crash!" And our teacher told us to stop because she thought we were trying to get attention.

"We were like: "No! Just look out the window!" And then she walked over and closed the shades. She wouldn't even look. "Now you're staying there longer." And we stood there, looking at those dark brown shades."

Stephen May was born and bred in Yonkers, just north of the Bronx.

"We had a juice bar on 23rd and 5th, looking downtown. I was working there, and our nanny had just brought my son Max over. Standing on the corner, we actually saw the tower fall. I felt something like a pressure, like a hard wind in my chest. I just lost all air, exhaled everything out of my lungs.

"You're looking at it. You're seeing it. But it doesn't register in your head. It doesn't make sense, it's like a movie. It's beyond your realm of comprehension.

"There was a massive river of humans coming up 5th Avenue. Thousands of people walking uptown, covered in dirt, just to get away.

"We were all in shock. Right after, you couldn't judge people because they were all shell-shocked, upset, angry and scared. You know, you realize there are things that are out of your control and you have to face that.

"A week or so after the attacks the Yankees played the Mets. They wore NYPD and EMS and Fire Department hats. Everybody cried together. We were all New Yorkers. We all got attacked. It was like we were on one team.

"Everybody had a common goal. Let's all help one another and let's get back. I will never forget that ball game."

Shalena Laiz grew up in Far Rockaway.

"During the summertime, my cousins and I would stay with my grandma. She lived on 129th Street in Harlem. She had eight daughters and 26 grandkids, so during that time, I'd say it was a good 12 of us staying with her.

"On 9/11 I was in the living room, watching TV. My sister and I thought it was a movie, when we saw the first plane hit the tower. The news started saying: "We're under attack, we're under attack," and my family started to get really frantic. I just remember my sister crying. Everyone was just so scared.

"My mom was working downtown on Wall Street for the Department of Consumer Affairs. We thought she was at work. She was very, very close but when her shift was supposed to start, the subway had stopped and she couldn't get there. Thank God for that.

"The summers brought everyone back closer together. There were a lot of block parties, a lot of fundraisers, and a lot of memorials where people were very compassionate, because you didn't know who was affected by it."

Robyn Moreno was studying in Jerusalem at the time of the attacks.

"I was in my dormitory when I first heard about 9/11. I got a phone call from my father and he said, petrified: "Are you okay?" My response was, "Yeah, why?" And he told me what happened.

"We didn't have a television in the dorm, so I had to go across the street to a student lounge.

"I don't know when we will be able to look at strangers with trust again. It all generates fear and paranoia. It's a hard dichotomy: when you're scared of the person you're standing next to, yet you want to be empathetic."

Eleanor Kuntz arrived in Brooklyn at a friend's house on 10 September 2001 - she was supposed to start a new job the next day.

"My friends and I went on the roof, and we saw the second plane hit the second tower. We didn't really know what to do except walk towards the bridge.

"People were just flooding over. Women carrying their shoes - people covered in grey ash. It was raining ash and pieces of paper. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

"You had people buying all the water in the grocery stores, bringing their shopping carts out in the street, and just handing bottles out.

"I had never witnessed that kind of disaster and hurt, and also an outpouring of love and care at the same time.

"The summer after 9/11, people were outside a lot. New Yorkers live outside of their apartments, out in the city. It didn't matter how small our place was, because the whole city was really our home."

SUMMER AFTER by Lucas Foglia is published by Stanley/Barker