man of style
Steel STANDING MEET THE MAN BEHIND THIS ICONIC 9/11 PHOTOGRAPH. BY KAREN ALBERG GROSSMAN
nthony Whitaker was at his apartment in Harlem on September 11, 2001 when he got the call from his boss at Con Ed: he was needed downtown at the World Trade Center to ensure that first responders had power for their rescues. Subways weren’t running, so he walked many miles to get there. Nearly asphyxiated by heavy smoke, he repaired power lines in the Hot Zone, mesmerized by the haunting image in front of him: the skeletal remains of the South Tower. Overcome by this spiritual symbol of endurance and hope, he snapped a photo; days later, the building came down. So who is this man who shared his iconic 9/11 image with the world in order to establish a foundation (steelstanding.org) to help those confronting adversity? (Among the first beneficiaries: Homes for Our Troops.) Whitaker grew up in the Bronx, has always had a passion for ancient art, was an athlete as a teenager, launched a clothing line as a young man, and turned down a modeling career because his mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, disapproved. “She’s all about humility and spiritual pursuits vs. ego and material things. I’ve always admired her values; I could never disappoint her.” Still, based on an early foray into fashion design (he once won an award at a menswear trade show for “most promising new designer”), Whitaker is into clothes. He loves Zegna suits and Italian leather shoes; he owns literally hundreds of ties. And at 6’4’’ and a 44 long (“I’m not as fit as I once was…”), he looks great in whatever he wears. Whitaker is now completing work on a Steel Standing sculpture in steel and marble to be permanently displayed at the Pentagon this fall. Not just a man of style, this is a man of steel, a man of character.