The 500 Hours of 9/11





A brown fedora rests abandoned in ground zero dust: owner's fate, unknown. In images shot from space, a plume of smoke rises miles above the World Trade Center. Two workers cling to a scaffold that dangles from an office building beneath the inferno. A handheld video camera, pointing at a north tower in flames, shakily veers to show the second hijacked jet striking the other tower.

Those images, captured largely by amateurs, are moments from more than 500 hours of videos and films, the largest collection of raw visual data from what historians say is the best-documented catastrophe in history. About 1,700 clips from the collection have attracted more than a million hits in the three months since they were put on Google Video.

The 7,000-gigabyte archive was assembled by Steven Rosenbaum, a Manhattan-based documentary producer. In the days after the terrorist attacks, he put up posters and fliers and placed an ad in The Village Voice urgently requesting images that captured the attack, its aftermath and the mood of the city.

Now his collection is the largest asset of his dormant television production company, CameraPlanet, and Mr. Rosenbaum is working out an agreement with the Bank of America, the company's primary lender. He wants to structure a deal with a donor, buyer or partner that would keep the collection from being sold piecemeal, would repay the company's debt of more than $500,000 and would make the videos available to researchers, filmmakers and the public.



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