9/11 Memorial App to Be iPad-Exclusive [Pics]

Never forgetting? There's an app for that.

  • The 9/11 Memorial: Past, Present and Future is an absorbing look at the World Trade Center site—including the original development of the Twin Towers,  the devastating attacks that brought them down and the elaborate process behind the construction of the memorial and the accompanying museum.

    It contains some 400 still photographs and hours of video clips. It will be free to the public between September 1 and September 12 (mark your calendar) and can be purchased for $9.95 thereafter.

    And it will be available exclusively on the Apple iPad.

    “The app lays it out in clear bold chunks—here’s the story before, when the World Trade Center was being built, and then after it was built, and the day of the attacks, and what’s happened since,” noted writer-director Steve Rosenbaum.

    A documentary film producer and web developer, Mr. Rosenbaum has been chronicling the goings on at Ground Zero since the day the Towers fell. Shortly after 9/11, he placed an ad in the Village Voice asking for photos and videos documenting the event. He eventually assembled a collection of some 500 hours of footage, which became the CameraPlanet archive. Some of the best material wound up in his 2002 documentary, 7 Days in September, which the Times called “almost unbearably powerful.” Mr. Rosenbaum rightly points out, “If you watch it, there are things in the film that I protected, images and stories that were never going to be seen by my children’s children if I hadn’t rescued them.”

    As for the new project, while it includes a few chilling clips of the attacks, it is largely concerned with the creation of Michael Arad’s memorial and the 9/11 Museum. (Click through the slideshow for a selection of highlights.)

    Mr. Rosenbaum said he decided to make the material iPad-only because it was simply the best device on which to display it. “I wanted it to be more of an immersive experience,” he said. “The nature of the photographs are so powerful, so to render them in anything but full color seemed wrong to me. And I didn’t want it to be viewed on a phone. I wanted it to be big and glossy.”

    Apple apparently liked the idea. Mr. Rosenbaum—who runs the tech company Magnify.net, a “realtime video curation engine,” and is the author of the recent book Curation Nation—explained that he submitted his app last week expecting it to take several weeks to get through the company’s notoriously opaque vetting system. “It got approved in a day and a half,” he said. The app was developed with Magnify.net video technology and programed by Jeff Soto of the Brooklyn-based mobile development shop TENDIGI.

    He’s hoping for some significant promotion in the app store, since apps that aren’t featured can easily be overlooked, but he noted that there are no guarantees. “I’ve asked around, and apparently they have a bunch of people that have a meeting every week on Thursday or Friday, and they pitch. But it’s a closed system. They may choose it and they may not.”

    Mr. Rosenbaum was asked whether making the app exclusive to the iPad isn’t too limiting for a project with resonance among so many Americans, many of whom either can’t afford the device or have somehow resisted Steve Jobs’ shiny vision.

    “The iPad is the single fastest selling consumer device in the history of consumer electronics,” he said. “There are 30 million now on the market. What’s more limited? A beautiful glossy photo book that sits in Barnes & Noble, or something that’s free and on a device that lots of people have?”

  • A new app tells the story of Ground Zero.

  • A study of the impact area—determining which steel recovered from the site was actually in position at the point of impact.

  • A view of the construction site at Ground Zero.

  • Architect Michael Arad sketched out his vision for the Memorial.

  • An FDNY vehicle from the collapse was held in Hangar 17 at JFK.

    An FDNY vehicle from the collapse was held in Hangar 17 at JFK.

  • A full-scale model of the Memorial Pools was constructed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

  • A worker restores one of the iconic steel tridents from the World Trade Center.

  • A series of models were created to test the water flow.

  • A worker puts finishing touches on the Names Parapet.

  • The bronze parapet bears the names of those killed in the attacks.

  • The architect reviews progress at the Memorial site.

  • A view from above.

  • The pumps can handle 24,000 gallons of water per minute.

  • A view of the Memorial.

  • The app's writer/director Steven Rosenbaum.


  1. Mr Rosenbaum can go bite for all I care.  Way to create something for the people and then restrict it to Ipad owners ONLY!  You know, some people affected by 9/11 choose not to own Ipads, way to snuff them off.  How about posting the slideshow to a website so everone can view it regardless of hardware?

    1. You could always drive down to the actual memorial and see it there. Or you could visit an apple store and ask that the app be put on one of their iPads. I know there are a few of those in the NYC area. But I suppose you really want this free online so you don’t have to move from your seat. That’s ok, but most of the country doesn’t have a decent internet connection. You wouldn’t know that being stuck in your NYC bubble though. Maybe the artist should print flyers and send them out with a daily paper or in the mail with the credit card offers from banks that don’t exist? That would get it to every American, though it wouldn’t be HIS project and HIS vision then, but everyone would see it. 

      1. Anonymous says:

        A lot more of the country has a decent internet connection, than has an iPad.

    2. This isn’t really a valid argument. He has released it in several formats already. If you’re complaining about this you should complain about all the people who don’t have internet access and can’t see the CameraPlanet Archive or don’t have a local theater that plays documentaries like his “7 Days in September.” 

      1. Anonymous says:

        “Theater” and “internet access” are generic classes of service.  “iPad” is a specific proprietary product.  This is more analogous to announcing that a film will only be shown in AMC Theaters, or available on the internet but only for those who have Comcast internet access.

      2. Anonymous says:

        Virtually nobody is buying a tablet that’s not an iPad.  

      3. Anonymous says:

        That’s certainly true, but how is it relevant?  What’s tablet-specific about this content?

        By the same ratio, virtually nobody is viewing digital content on a tablet.  Virtually nobody is viewing photographs on a tablet.  And so on.

        This is like making an indie slice-of-life film (no special effects, no 3-d, etc.), and then only showing it at IMAX theaters.  Sure, virtually nobody is watching high-resolution, giant-sized films except on IMAX, but there’s no point to making it *either* IMAX-specific *or* large-format-specific.  We’re not saying “You should let it be played on the 1% of large-format theaters that aren’t IMAX”.  We’re saying “it’s a friggin’ film, show it at normal theaters”.

    3. Anonymous says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more, Edward! There also really should be an app for Android tablet users. 

      All 5 of them.

    4. Safire8426 says:

      If you go to the 911 memorial site you can view GroundZero and its transformation. You can also tune in to the History channel on 911 and see the six part documentary series that Steven Spielberg is involved in. It’s free. As all 911 related programs should be. An app just for iPad? Come on now. Not for 911. Making money off of this is just wrong. Unless you r donating the proceeds. Which I doubt

  2. Also, Mr Smart Man, There are 30  million Ipads on the market WORLDWIDE.  There are 311 Million People in the US, how can you not call that limited?  Even if every one of these Ipads was in the US, that would still be less than 10% of the US population that can view your app.  You should reconsider as you insult the people who choose or cannot afford to spend $500 on a toy.  And do not compare that to a book at Barnes and Noble, more people can read than own Ipads.

    1. Anonymous says:

      My iPad is regularly viewed by 6 people. I am sure the majority of iPads out there are viewed by more than one person. Just because it is exclusive to the iPad does not mean it will not be seen by all without an iPad. Obviously you do not own one, but I’m willing to bet you have had the occasion to mess around with one that either belonged to a friend, co-worker or was a floor model in an electronics store.

    2. michael says:

      Edward – Though your point is well taken about the number of iPads is use vs. total U.S. population, the fact of the matter is that many more millions will see this piece on iPad than in book form. The coffee table book market has been shrinking for years. He would be lucky to sell 100,000 books (more like 10,000). But I imagine the iPad version will reach many more than that.

    3. Warren says:

      As has been pointed out more than once over the last decade, it wasn’t just Americans who died that day in the WTC. The 11 September attacks were not a US-only event, and the wars which we’ve justified since then have made it, quite literally, a global phenomenon.

      30 million iPad users is a vast audience, and some of them might end up seeing something the’d never really thought about before, and it might even make them rethink and recontextualize the world they live in.

      That you don’t approve is obvious, but lots of things happen every day which don’t require your personal approval, so I have to wonder why this is so clearly offensive to you.

  3. Get a Clue says:

    Blah, blah whine, mr. O’Shea. First of all, many creative endeavors are museum exhibits that can only be seen in one location due to the artist wanting to use a large format screen, large canvases, or other large format panels. So should they scan and minaturize their work for the sake of exhibiting it to more people?

    Next, most iPads are owned by people with families and friends they can share things with, that’s a large part of the appeal of the device’s large, smooth running display. So there is an audience many times larger than just the owners who can view this app. iPads are also in more and more schools every day, meaning that multiple classes of students will have possible access to this app. The same is true of many hotels, museums, and other resort and vacation venues. Also, viewing these materials in a slow-performing browser window, surrounded by frames and toolbars is far from the best media for the program.

    Last, I would not necessarily believe this developer’s assertion that his materials are all that rare or important. There is already a massive archive of material regarding this event, more than enough to document it to anyone’s degree of interest. His claim of exclusivity may be true, but drumming up its importance is just part of the promotion process. So I wouldn’t worry about “missing out” on something if you don’t have an iPad.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Calm down. The application may be exclusive to one mobile platform, but that doesn’t mean the content won’t show up elsewhere. There is nothing stopping someone putting out their own book, website, or application on other platforms. He is merely saying that HIS application will be exclusive to a single medium. The exclusivity may apply only to release. If it does well enough he might publish it elsewhere.

    Speaking from experience, it’s a huge undertaking to reach out to multiple mobile platforms.

  5. Nate says:

    Hopefully this ends up available in its full form on the web somewhere too. That last quote of his is embarrassing, if he honestly thinks that the iPad is some sort of universally accessible device. I’m lucky enough to own one, and not deluded enough to think it’s not a byproduct of my disposable cash on hand.

  6. Anonymous says:

    6 billion people can figure out how to open a book of photographs.  That’s orders of magnitude more than have an iPad.

    And that’s just today.  A color book of photographs will continue to exist almost indefinitely: my children’s children’s children will be able to read it.  How long will an iPad app be around?  iOS has existed for only 4 years, and the iPad for only about 16 months, so it’s hard to say.  An app written for Mac OS that’s 4 years old today would have been running on Mac OS X 10.4, probably on a PowerPC CPU, so (unless the author had just upgraded to a brand new Intel Mac just then and rebuilt it) it will not run on any new Mac for sale today.  Apple is good at many things but longevity of technology is not one of them.

    Apple’s App Store is for cheap throwaway apps: most everything costs $1-$5 and most people just buy time-waster games.  Even the serious apps we buy, we have no illusion that they will continue to work next year on whatever new devices Apple decides to create.

    1. Anonymous says:

      This is a new one on me. Generally people complain about Apple because they take a year or more to update a product line. Because it takes them so long to update their products people feel like they aren’t cutting edge half the time and aren’t worth the money you pay for them. It’s an argument the PC fanboys have beaten to death… over and over. 

      Now Apple is moving too quickly? You guys need to make up your minds. :-)

    2. allanwhite says:

      Can you watch video, or use interactive diagrams with a printed book?

      This is a different medium entirely. The best platform for it is the iPad.

  7. Colin says:

    I didn’t hear about the film, and I may not see the iPad app, but I’m still grateful to Mr. Rosenbaum for his work. Ten years since the attacks, and here in the comments people argue about electronic devices. Life goes on I guess, but American discourse seems to be more and more about people taking sides and digging in, and to hell with common sense and respect. I’m in Europe, watching my beloved country with despair.

  8. Colin says:

    I didn’t hear about the film, and I may not see the iPad app, but I’m still grateful to Mr. Rosenbaum for his work. Ten years since the attacks, and here in the comments people argue about electronic devices. Life goes on I guess, but American discourse seems to be more and more about people taking sides and digging in, and to hell with common sense and respect. I’m in Europe, watching my beloved country with despair.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hey Mr. Rosenbaum! You know what more people have? A web browser…

  10. Hajallo123h says:

    I think it’s a great idea so be quiet