REDDING, Conn. -- In a program marking the 15th anniversary of Sept.11 at the Mark Twin Library, Redding resident Charles Moretz told the tale of his "spiritual connection" to the World Trade Center through his career as a photographer.
Addressing about 70 people who attended "Genius Loci: The Art of Remembrance," Moretz presented a collection of photographs he had taken of the Twin Towers, dating to the 1970s, and spoke of his strong fondness for them.
His story began after he graduated from the School of Design at North Carolina State University in 1972 and moved to Manhattan to pursue a career of art and design. He settled in a loft in Soho and began exploring downtown neighborhoods.
"I first fell in love with the Twin Towers at night while I was walking around the area," Moretz said. "I was completely drawn to them."
That's when he began to take a lot of photographs of the World Trade Center.
"I had what was almost a spiritual connection to them. I loved being there. I thought they were beautiful and bold and and strong and represented everything about New York that I had come to New York to explore," he said. "And so they became my muse."
About 40,000 people went to work in the Twin Towers every day, and over 100,000 people visited them to do business. It became a city within a city, according to Moretz.
When they opened in 1971, the World Trade Center towers shared a single exclusive ZIP code, 10048.
In 1979, Moretz's work was published in an art magazine and he became known as an up-and-coming photographer. "This was the magazine in New York for advertising and design, and they chose from my portfolio to feature some of the images from my World Trade Center collection," he said.
Then in 1982, "Guy Tozzoli, the (late) president of the World Trade Center Association, saw my photographs and called me and said they were the best photographs of the Twin Towers he had seen."
Over lunch with him, Moretz learned that Tozzoli wanted photographs of the Twin Towers to be displayed on the top floor, in the Windows of the World. "And he wanted me to do it," Moretz said.
This project allowed Moretz access to normally off-limits areas, and he was able to take detailed photographs of the towers, from all different angles.
The murals he created "were all 2-and-a-half feet wide, but they started at 8 feet tall and went to 17 feet tall," Moretz said.
As he was taking the photographs, Moretz continued to have an emotional and artistic attachment to the Twin Towers. "It was a joy to be able to do this work. When I completed those murals, it completed my relationship with my muse of the Twin Towers."
Moretz believes the construction of the Twin Towers was responsible for a revival of lower Manhattan. "It became the most popular tourist destination in America, and it's my opinion that this is why they were chosen as the only non-government building to be attacked 15 years ago," he said.
"When the towers came down, I was numb. There were so many losses, so much destroyed so quickly," Moretz said as he displayed photographs from his collection. "I knew I had to bring back my pictures to honor and remember them.
"I don't want the Twin Towers to just be a shadow in the sky."