22 THE QUEENS COURIER • SEPTEMBER 16, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Queensborough Community College hosts haunting 9/11 photo exhibit
BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
A new photo exhibit at the
Queensborough Community College
(QCC) Art Gallery, entitled “A Tribute:
2001-2021” by a university alumnus and
former fi rst responder, is commemorating
the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror
Th e haunting exhibit features more
than 80 Ground Zero photos taken by
retired FDNY forensic photographer Chris
Landano, a former QCC student.
Th e impressions of entangled steel beams
as well as toxic and smoldering debris at
Ground Zero show a scene that can only be
compared to a war zone. Landano’s images
captured the worst of humanity and illustrate
the heroic rescue, recovery and cleanup
mission by fi rst responders in the aft ermath
of the attack on the twin towers.
Th e then 23-year-old fi refi ghter had been
with the FDNY forensic photo unit for
nine months and was near the Brooklyn
Bridge when the horrifi c events of 9/11
unfolded before his eyes.
He remembered talking to his supervisor,
who told him to get as close to the
World Trade Center as he could — and
Landano was on the Brooklyn Bridge
when the fi rst tower collapsed, and he
eventually found his way to Church Street
in downtown Manhattan.
“It was a whole other world with all the
dust,” Landano said.
His mission was to reach the
command post in the lobby of
the north tower and join his
supervisor and colleagues.
“Th ey were in the lobby
photographing,” Chris said.
“Th ey barely made it when the
buildings came down, but that
was my mission. My mission
was to get to the lobby, which
Even though he had a bag
full of cameras and fi lm on
him, Landano didn’t take
any photos of the horror that
“I was helping people here
and there, wherever I could,”
Landano recalled. “I was on
the pile, just trying to move
debris. I was kind of all over
the place as everyone was. I felt
a little bit out of place because
I’m a photographer and a fi rst
responder. I’m assigned to the
photo unit, but I didn’t take
one photo that day.”
Landano, who grew up in Queens,
studied photography at QCC. He took
hundreds, if not thousands, of photos at
Ground Zero between Sept. 12, 2001, and
“I photographed on the ground, from
the air, even from rooft ops,” he said, adding
that he took photos from a 54-story building
while sitting on the ledge.
Landano even captured the scale of
the destruction from a NASA helicopter,
which was equipped with a thermal imaging
camera trying to locate bodies under
the mountains of debris.
“I was up on rooft ops all around. So I got
a good 360 view of the site. I remember,
sometimes, as far as October when they
lift ed the steel, and a puff of smoke would
come out. So it was still smoking a month
later,” he said.
Landano retired from the FDNY in
March 2021 and is one of the many fi rst
responders who suff ers from 9/11-related
He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer
and had half of his thyroid removed last
March because of exposure to the toxic
dust at Ground Zero.
“But I’m lucky, ” Landano said. “Th ere
are hundreds of fi refi ghters that are sick
now. Th ere’s hundreds of fi refi ghters that
are dying. I know guys that were down
there for one or two days, and they’re sick,
or they’re dead. So, I’m enjoying life.”
And that he does. He invented Trakbelt
360, a utility belt that rotates tool pouches
and holsters around the waist for safety,
comfort and versatility. He noted that NBC
picked his product for one of their inventions
He also started up a consulting business
helping inventors and entrepreneurs
get their products to market. His entrepreneurial
spirit doesn’t leave much time for
photography these days.
“It’s crazy,” Landano said. “When I met
my wife, I was big into the cameras and
photography. Th en I invented this product,
and it took over my life.”
Th e fi re department is still part of his life,
and he planned to spend 9/11 at his old
fi rehouse in Springfi eld.
“I love the fi re department. I love the
people. I love the members, people I battled
with, bled with, you know,” the 43-year
old said. “I will always be at my fi rehouse
for as long as it’s in my control.”
Assemblyman David Weprin said the
exhibition showed that the recovery was a
mission with real meaning, which Landano
captured through his lens.
“Th e good thing about it is how everybody
came together,” Weprin said. “Th e
positive of humanity came together, and
everybody was a little nicer to everybody
else. And it really changed us and our lives
Queensborough Community College
President Dr. Christine Mangino said that
it was essential to tell the stories and experiences
of 9/11 to the younger generation
and that art exhibitions, memorials and
vigils kept the memories alive.
“As someone who grew up in the 9/11
generation, it is such a formative part of my
experience as a New Yorker,” Dr. Mangino
said. “It is meaningful and important to
commemorate 9/11 every year and never
to forget the action of that day, both tragic
and horrifi c. I don’t think we will ever
be the same.”
Th e installation is complemented by a
student-curated exhibit of archival photographs
and images of artifacts from the
9/11 Memorial & Museum’s permanent
collection, and will run through Oct. 10.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, visitors
are encouraged to contact the QCC Art
Gallery offi ce at 718-631-6396 to schedule
For more information, visit artgallery.
Photos by Gabriele Holtermann
Images of the destruction at Ground Zero are on display at the QCC Art Gallery.