The word “delayering” emerged from the radio exactly one week after the first plane shot past Boorstein’s Soho studio. It struck him as a perfect description of how the World Trade Towers disappeared.

On the morning of September 11, Boorstein watched the south tower drop out of the skyline after its twin had fallen. He wrote that it was as though “the building had been erased from the top down by an invisible animated hand. No sound, no smoke; only blue sky remained.”

Months later, a New York City fireman described having heard a clicking or popping sound, possibly the sound of each floor snapping free from its vertical supports. The descending mass increased as each floor crashed onto the one below. The structures delayered.

After the disappearance of those two towers, a period of adjustment began in the United States and around the world. Delayering, with its more than 600 entries written over two decades, provides a raw, direct reminder of events and activities that have shaped our time.

Many 9/11 stories relate to grief and bravery. Boorstein’s Delayering follows a different path, capturing the evolving quotidian aftermath of that day. Delayering does not interpret these events; instead, they are noticed and shared from the vantage point of each recorded day.

Boorstein’s early training as a cabinetmaker and sculptor gives him a tactile understanding of materials and design. This background informs what he notices. As an architectural conservator, he is frequently called on to collect and record information for museums from the Getty in Los Angeles to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

A single, independent person’s detailed view, recorded in real time, holds a unique value.

 

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