Bill Biggart

William G. Biggart
Bill Biggart.jpg
Born (1947-07-20)July 20, 1947
Died September 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 54)
Cause of death Injuries sustained from the collapse of the North Tower during the September 11 attacks.
Body discovered September 15, 2001
Resting place 40°42′42.1″N 74°0′49.0″W / 40.711694°N 74.013611°W / 40.711694; -74.013611Coordinates: 40°42′42.1″N 74°0′49.0″W / 40.711694°N 74.013611°W / 40.711694; -74.013611
Monuments National September 11 Memorial & Museum - South Pool, Panel S-66
Occupation photojournalist, photographer
Years active 1985—2001[1]
Employer Impact Visuals
Spouse(s) Wendy Doremus
Children William Joseph Biggart II
(first marriage)
Kate and Peter Biggart (second marriage)[1][2]

William G. Biggart (July 20, 1947 – September 11, 2001) was an American[3] freelance photojournalist and a victim of the September 11 attacks, notable for his street-view photographs of the event before being killed by the collapse of the World Trade Center's North Tower. He was the only professional photographer to be killed while covering the attacks.[1][2][4]

On September 15, 2001, Biggart's remains were discovered along with a bag containing his three cameras and the CompactFlash card from which his last photographs were recovered. The photos were used in the October 15, 2001 issue of Newsweek.[1][5][6][7] His photographs from 9/11 were exhibited at the International Center of Photography and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.[5][8][9] They have also been preserved on the Internet by The Digital Journalist.[10]

Personal life

A child of an American officer stationed in Germany, Bill Biggart was born in Berlin in 1947. Biggart was one of 12 siblings in his Irish-Catholic family.[1][11][12] As an adult, he moved into a loft in Lower Manhattan, New York City, about the same time that the WTC was opening in the 1970s.[13]

Biggart was married twice and had three children. He had one son from his first marriage. Biggart's second wife was Wendy Doremus, and they had two children.[1][2]


Biggart started out as a commercial photographer[1] and he soon began to pursue an interest in spot news photography. He was at Wounded Knee to photograph the 1973 incident.[14] He would also sometimes take jobs for theater productions.[15] With a passion for news, he transitioned to photojournalism in 1985.[5][12] His photojournalism credits are found in the international stories he covered in the West Bank and Israel in 1988,[16][17] Northern Ireland, and the first Gulf War.[1][11][12] He was also frequently credited for photographs that captured news events closer to his home in New York City, such as a NYC subway shot of "subway vigilante" Bernhard Goetz,[1][18] Howard Beach,[11] or the 1989 funeral of Yusuf Hawkins.[19] He was also present in Berlin to photograph the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.[12][14]

Biggart began working for the Impact Visuals photo news agency in 1988 and he continued to work there until he was killed.[1][6][20] He also worked as a freelance photographer for Reuters, Agence France Press, and Sipa Press.[14] His work appeared in The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Village Voice and The City Sun.[6][14]

September 11, 2001

Biggart's name is located on Panel S-66 of the National September 11 Memorial's South Pool, along with those of passengers of Flight 77.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a passing taxi driver alerted Biggart to the fact that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.[21][22] A "news junkie", according to those who were close to him,[13] Biggart ran to his apartment near Union Square, grabbed three cameras (two film, one digital) and began walking the two miles toward the center,[22] where fire trucks were located,[1] shooting photographs along the way,[22] including digital, color film and slide images.[7] He eventually found himself at the World Trade Center shooting the Twin Towers as they burned, and continued taking photos after the South Tower collapsed. His wife called Biggart on his cell phone shortly after the first tower's collapse. According to her, Biggart said he was with the firemen and safe, and he would meet her in 20 minutes.[22]

Another photographer, Bolivar Arellano of the New York Post, observed that Biggart was photographing the second tower before it fell, and that Biggart was closer than any other photographer, and closer than Arellano felt was safe.[23] Bill Biggart took his last photo at 10:28:24 am EST,[1][7][12] about 20 minutes after his phone call with his wife.[1] At 10:28 am, the North Tower collapsed.[24] The falling debris from the tower killed Biggart.[4] His last photograph was presented as a highlight of the 2002 exhibit at the National Museum of American History.[25] In the days following the tower's collapse, Biggart was reported among the missing. His wife searched for him at news agencies and hospitals.[26] Four days later, his remains and camera equipment were recovered from the tower debris.[5]

Biggart took over 300 photographs of the event,[1] 154 of which Biggart's friend, photographer Chip East, was able to recover from Biggart's digital storage devices, and which have become part of the exhibits of Biggart's most well-known photographs.[1][2][9]


Creative works

  • Ireland: A Week in the Life of A Nation (1986 U.K.)
  • Running Towards Danger: Stories Behind the Breaking News of 9/11 (2002, Newseum)


  • Aftermath: Reflections on The Anniversary of September 11, Bill Biggart: Final Exposures, International Center of Photography, New York City, 2002.[8]
  • Bearing Witness to History, Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C., 2002.[9]
  • Bill Biggart's cameras from 9/11 are on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., April 11, 2008.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Adler, Jerry (2001-10-15). "Shooting To the End". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  2. ^ a b c d O'Clery, Conor (2001-12-22). "The parting shot". The Irish Times. (subscription required)
  3. ^ "The parting shot". The Irish Times. 2001-12-22.
  4. ^ a b DeLuca, Louis (2012-09-11). "See the final photos by Bill Biggart, eyewitness to 9/11, killed in the attack". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  5. ^ a b c d Neal, Rome (2002-09-06). "Bill Biggart: Final Exposures". CBS News.
  6. ^ a b c "At Pakistan/Afghanistan Border; Journalist Among Dead and Media Workers Missing". 2001-09-25.
  7. ^ a b c Sengupta, Nilanjana (2011-09-10). "Snapshots of a disaster". The Straits Times.
  8. ^ a b McGee, Celia (2002-09-08). "Capturing History: Photo exhibits show the way the terrorist attacks and their aftermath was documented". Daily News. Daily News.
  9. ^ a b c "Smithsonian Is Planning 9/11 Exhibit". The New York Times. 2002-08-03.
  10. ^ "Bill Biggart's Final Exposures". The Digital Journalist. January 2011.
  11. ^ a b c "Parties, Love Notes and Other Small Memories That Now Loom Large". The New York Times. 2001-09-18.
  12. ^ a b c d e Van der Lingen, Suzanne. "Bill Biggart: 9/11". GUP magazine.
  13. ^ a b Hay, Carol; McKitterick, Tom (September 9, 2001). "Remembering a friend". Toronto Star.
  14. ^ a b c d "About Bill". Bill Biggart, Photographer, 1947-2001. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  15. ^ Gussow, Mel (1982-11-30). "Stage: 'Mens Room'". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Moffett III, George D.; Temko, Ned (1988-04-21). "Crisis of leadership besets troubled Israel". Christian Science Monitor.
  17. ^ Temko, Ned (1988-04-28). "Palestinian-Israeli war shifts to verbal front, but still at stalemate". Christian Science Monitor.
  18. ^ Irwin, Victoria (1987-06-18). "New Yorkers have much to ponder after Goetz trial". Christian Science Monitor.
  19. ^ Roberts, Sam (1989-09-03). "Once Again, Racism Proves to Be Fatal In New York City". The New York Times. p. The Week in Review (Section 4) page 6, column 1.
  20. ^ "Bill Biggart killed at World Trade Centre". Editorial Photographyers United Kingdom & Ireland. 2001-09-18.
  21. ^ van der Lingen, Suzanne (September 6, 2011). "Bill Biggart: 9/11". GUP magazine.
  22. ^ a b c d "September 11th". Bill Biggart: Photographer. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  23. ^ Friend, David (2007). Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11. New York: IB Tauris. pp. 17–20. ISBN 9781845115456.
  24. ^ Miller, Bill (May 1, 2002). "Report Assesses Trade Center's Collapse". The Washington Post.
  25. ^ "2002 Exhibition Highlights". National Museum of American History. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  26. ^ Lin, Jennifer (2001-09-14). "As hopes fade, aching sorrow sets in; Passersby memorialize the fallen on the hulk of a charred fire truck". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  27. ^ Ho, Dorothy (2001-10-10). "Newseum Honors Bill Biggart, Who Died Covering WTC Attack". Film Journal. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22.
  28. ^ William G. Biggart Archived 2013-07-27 at the Wayback Machine. Memorial Guide: National 9/11 Memorial. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  29. ^ Dietsch, Deborah K. (2008-04-05). "Newseum completes avenue revitalization". The Washington Times.

External links