Born and raised in Dublin, photographer Joe Woolhead has been a resident of New York City for over 27 years. In 2004, he began working with Silverstein Properties, his main focus being on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Here, the Irish photographer shares his journey in pictures – from 9/11, Ground Zero to number 4 Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan.
There’s a reason why Joe Woolhead looks very comfortable in a hard hat, having spent most of his early professional years as a construction worker, painter, plasterer and stone mason. After suffering a serious accident in 1996, Joe decided to return to college to rediscovered his passion for creative arts – particularly poetry and photography.
He pursued his studies at Hunter College in New York city where he graduated with a degree in film. When the attacks happened on September 11th 2001, Joe grabbed his camera and shot what he witnessed over the course of three days. His photographs from that time were published all over the world.
In 2004, Joe began working with Silverstein Properties, his main focus being on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. In 2006, he also started work at the 9/11 Memorial documenting the construction of the museum and the memorial pools. At present, he continues to photograph the progress of work at 3 WTC which is opening in spring 2018.
“I have so many memories of working here and seeing workers journey in and journey out as the buildings progressively got larger. In the early days of construction, I would come down into the pit of the foundation work, the place abuzz with concrete being poured and steel being placed. One day, the workers found a boat dating back to the 17th century in the south west corner of the site and before it was shipped out for further analysis, I took some photos where it had been uncovered in the mud near one of the old piers, years before the land by Battery Park was reclaimed. One morning, last August 2008, I came across a huge amphitheater of schist rock exposed so the geologists could study a striking anomaly in the layering of rock underneath where the machines needed to dig. I got to work taking a wide range of shots of the marvelous rocks, smooth and round, that hadn’t seen the light of day for eons. Within two weeks, the rock formation was drilled to bits. Now my memories are supplemented by the photographs from those days.” – Joe Woolhead in conversation with Murmur.
Joe’s work has been published in numerous publications including the Daily News, New York Post, New York Times, Esquire, the New Yorker, Time Magazine, New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle and the Sunday Times. He has also been featured in several documentaries including Garry Keane’s The Irish New Yorkers (Gaeil Nua Eabhrac) and Sean O Cualain’s Men at Lunch (Lon sa Speir). Currently, he is working on several books, including one with Esquire as part of a long running series related to the World Trade Center.