Within days of September 11, 2001, the company EarthCam installed its high-tech webcam at the devastated site of the Twin Towers. Around the world, people riveted to the recovery efforts could view live streaming images over the Internet. In its 11 years at Ground Zero, EarthCam has documented the construction of new structures, including New York City’s newly proclaimed tallest building, One World Trade Center.
Shot from the Millennium Hilton on Church Street in Lower Manhattan, 1 million photographs have been painstakingly edited into a two-minute time-lapse film that captures One World Trade Center’s rise.
One World Trade Center — previously known as the Freedom Tower — reached 1,271 feet on Monday, April 30, surpassing the Empire State Building’s height by roughly 50-feet. At 100 stories, the unfinished building has another four floors to go before completion in 2013 or 2014. Only after a 408-foot needle tops the new tower will it outreach the former Twin Towers, by some 400-feet.
EarthCam’s consistent capturing of One World Trade Center’s rise for more than seven years is capable through what the company calls “self-healing” camera technology and software, which checks the camera up to 288 times a day.
“Uniquely important, the construction of the World Trade Center is a tremendous effort by many, which deserves innovative technology and a passionate team to monitor and document its rebirth,” said Brian Cury, CEO and founder of EarthCam.
Viewers can keep an eye on further developments at the site with livestream views from many different perspectives.
Earth Cam has expanded its bird’s eye view of the world by developing innovative camera technology that now includes a 16 megapixel robotic camera, whose panoramas max out at 700-megapixels.
To zoom in from such grand subjects and learn that the source of the technological wizardry comes from Hackensack, NJ, is, well, a bit of a surprise. A New Jersey native and former television producer, Cury founded the business in the Bergen County seat in 1996. In 1999, its webcams began broadcasting a livestream from New Year’s Eve in Times Square, where it now offers seven livestreams, including one in 3D.
While curious Web surfers may be intrigued by the sights EarthCam zooms in on, EarthCam is providing a service to clients from Coca-Cola to sports teams to state transportation departments by allowing them to monitor far-off assets and projects, be it a major billboard or a development project on the Panama Canal. Today, the company of fewer than 100 employees maintains and monitors webcams for companies in 1,500 cities in 50 states and 46 countries.
The less commercial projects of EarthCam allow armchair travelers to scale the heights of the Statue of Liberty to overlook the New York Harbor, or mediate on the beam of light that rises into the sky above Viðey Island in Reykjavík, Iceland — the Image Peace Tower installation Yoko Ono dedicated to her late husband John Lennon in 2007.
The images EarthCam captures at Ground Zero are donated to and archived at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.