Documenting the Decade

I was in my office on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building preparing for an early meeting. The sound of the first plane was so loud that I looked up and watched as it hit the WTC. I took this photo shortly after the second plane hit. From my vantage point it was impossible to see or understand that a second airliner had hit the tower - all I saw, heard, felt was another explosion. - Matthew Jelacic (Sept. 11, 2001)

From the New York Time's Lens blog (http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com): When Times editors began brainstorming about ways to mark the end of the decade, it didn’t take us long to settle on a course of action: get readers involved.

In soliciting submissions for "Documenting the Decade" we asked you to send photos that helped illustrate what you considered important moments from the decade in news, politics, culture, entertainment, business, sports and technology. We also asked that the photos be accompanied by short personal essays that explained how they defined the decade.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the largest natural disaster in the U.S. with more than 1,836 lives lost. There were bloated, rotting, dead bodies left around for at least two weeks. No one seemed to feel it was their responsibility to pick them up and attempt to identify them. I couldn't help wonder, would this happen if we were San Francisco? Covering the tsunami in Sri Lanka made me sad. Katrina made me mad. - Alison Wright (Sept. 5, 2005)

In the end, we received 2,769 submissions and published 885 of them. As with all projects involving reader-generated content, we moderated the submissions, picking out the best and rejecting those that were poorly composed, irrelevant or, in a few cases, offensive — much the way that we handle reader comments. It’s admittedly a subjective and non-scientific process, but it’s intended to create a rewarding experience for our audience.

I've loved the duplicate digit dates of the decade, starting from the first day: 01-01-01. Although I never did anything in particular to celebrate these dates, apparently many brides made a point to be married on duplicate digit dates. 07-07-07 was a brilliantly sunny Saturday in Bath, England, and everywhere I turned there were newly married couples who had the foresight to reserve the lucky and memorable date for their wedding. - Lisa Fenger (July 7, 2007)

Lisa Iaboni, a senior producer at the Web site, who sifted through many submissions, said she expected to see images of heavily documented news events. But she said she was struck by how many pictures came in that showed “more intimate moments, and how these ‘quiet’ images represented what the decade meant. Some of my favorite images in the collection are more like observations, seemingly mundane moments where the reader points out a behavior or a juxtaposition,” she said. “The best of these images provide a window into how we conduct ourselves in our society, and how it might be unique to this decade.”

Election Night. A defining moment in history. A moment of great pride, hope and emotion. - Alana Cowen (Nov. 4, 2008)

To view the rest of readers' submissions ----> Documenting the Decade at newyorktimes.com.

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