21 Years Of 9/11 Attacks: Here’s The Story Behind The Famous ‘Falling Man’ Photo

Falling Man’s identity is still unknown.

‘The Falling Man’ image is one of the most enduring images of the 9/11 tragedy that saw the Twin Towers of the US World Trade Centre collapse after being struck by hijacked aircraft. 

The photo, taken by Richard Drew moments after the horrifying attacks, shows a man falling to his untimely death against the backdrop of the steel frame of the North Tower. It is far from the only picture of unfortunate souls falling to their deaths during the September 11, 2001, attacks. However, the composition of the image is what makes it stand out.

Take a look below:

The image shows a lone figure perfectly bisecting the iconic towers as he darts toward the Earth. Although he has not chosen his fate, he still appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. He appears relaxed and comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. His arms are by his side, his left leg is bent at the knee, almost casually.

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In all other pictures, while people who did what he did – who jumped – appeared to be struggling against horrific discrepancies of scale, the man in the image, by contrast, was perfectly vertical, and in accord with the lines of the buildings behind him.

According to Esquire, the iconic photo is one of a series of 12 images taken by photojournalist Richard Drew. While ‘The Falling Man’ gives an impression that its subject is falling straight down, in reality, he did not fall with a precision of an arrow. He fell like everyone else, like all the other jumpers – tumbling through the air.

The image was published in newspapers around the US in the days after the attacks, however, backlash from readers forced it into temporary obscurity.

Speaking about the picture, Mr Drew previously stated that many newspaper readers complained about the image over the years, saying that “they didn’t want to see this over their morning corn flakes”. However, he also added that he believes that the image is important as it shows “a very important part of the story”.

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“It wasn’t just a building falling down, there were people involved in this. This is how it affected people’s lives at that time, and I think that is why it’s an important picture. I didn’t capture this person’s death. I captured part of his life. This is what he decided to do, and I think I preserved that,” he said.

Falling Man’s identity is still unknown. However, according to New Zealand Herald, attempts to identify the man have been made, and a number of theories have been put forward. It is possible the man worked at Windows on the World, a restaurant at the top of the North tower, which lost 79 of its employees. It is also possible he worked at catering service Forte Food, which lost 21 employees, who were mostly Indian, Arab and Latino.

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