By Katharine Herrup
Much has been written and said about September 11, 2001, on the occasion of its 10th anniversary, but one story much less known is the one about the band of boats that came together to rescue nearly 500,000 New Yorkers from the World Trade Center site on the day the towers collapsed.
It was the largest boatlift ever to have happened – greater than the one at Dunkirk during World War II. Yet somehow a story of such large scale became lost in all the rubble. But a new 10-minute documentary called Boatlift by Eddie Rosenstein captures the boat evacuations that happened on 9/11. The film is part of four new short documentaries that were created for the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C.
“Boats, usually an afterthought in most New Yorkers minds, were, for the first time in over a century, the only way in or out of lower Manhattan,” says Tom Hanks, the narrator of the film.
New Yorkers don’t really think of Manhattan as an island since everything from the basics to beyond your wildest imagination is so accessible — not typically a feature associated with island life. But on September 11, 2001, those trapped below the World Trade Center site who could not escape without swimming or being rescued by a boat were acutely reminded of that fact.