Tourists come from all over the world to gaze upon the soaring architecture. Many eyes get to admire the exciting exterior from behind darkened shades.
Still, few get to enter the front doors of the south-side lobby guarded by a woman dressed in a dark suit guiding people away from the glass revolving doors.
The steel framed edifice contains 104 floors and goes by two names: One World Trade Center or Freedom Tower.
The lobby is separated from the glass doors by a multicolored, splatter-painted wall full of greens, pinks, oranges and blues. A piece of art painted by José Parlá. The room on the other side of this wall has high ceilings and tall walls both coated in a thick layer of white paint.
There is a white marble desk the length of the room and is dotted with employees wearing the same suit as the woman outside. The words, “Condé Nast” carved out of white metal are nailed up onto the wall behind the desk.
It’s noon and women walk out of the elevators holding just their wallets and wearing sunglasses that are too big for their slim faces. They venture out of the air-conditioned lobby to go get lunch.
Other women come back into the building holding their venti-sized Starbucks coffees lightened by a non-dairy cream, small echoes follow them matching the pattern of their stiletto heels tapping against the floor.
Men come in and out in pairs laughing about some crazy business deal they just made or a crazy weekend party that had an unexpected ending.
The elevators take these pretty and petite painted girls and perfectly put together men up to floors not seen by the tourists and not seen by anyone without a pass that open the clean, clear doors. Beyond those glass gates is a world of fashion, writing and mystery.
Fashion magazine mecca, Vogue, is housed one of these 104 floors of One World Trade Center. And on that floor is the office of Ian Crane.
Crane is the set producer at Vogue and his role is to find the location of a shoot, call up the designer, the photographer and anyone else needed. When it comes to fashion shoots, Crane runs the show.
He is a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University. When he first arrived to the beautiful campus, he felt welcomed by the students and staff and felt part of the caring community.
He had a love for art and fashion and decided to major in visual arts with the hope of becoming a fashion photographer one day. Crane even wrote for PLNU’s newspaper, and picked up the nickname, “The Fashion Guru.”
His bio on Lomabeat.com read, “After graduation, his dream is to move to New York City and become a rich gypsy, fashionista/editor-in-chief, and self-diagnosed bagel addict. His favorite animal is the cow and he’s inspired by the colors nude and black.”
During his summer in 2013, Crane had the chance to experience his dream city for a few months and made his way to NYC to work as a photo and bookings intern at Harper’s Bazaar.
After graduating from college, Crane got a job at Interview Magazine working as a photography assistant and then as an assistant photography editor. After that he became the assistant bookings editor for W Magazine before working at Vogue as the set producer.
Yet transitions weren’t always this easy for Crane. In the spring of his freshman year of college, Crane came out as gay. The place that was so welcoming to him suddenly didn’t feel that way.
But Crane surrounded himself with friends and professors that he could confide in and feel comfortable with in order to face this trial.
“It was maybe a challenge to myself,” said Crane. “And I think that it’s something I’ve learned a lot from going to school there as a gay person was how to thrive in a place where you don’t necessarily feel welcome.”
When he was in school, Crane tried to start a club for the LGBTQ community on campus but had no luck and his club never took off.
At Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois, over 100 kids now file in to take part in the LGBTQ club called Prism started by graduate Nate DiCamillo. DiCamillo participated in the New York City Semester in Journalism put on through The King’s College in NYC and now lives in the city.
He came out as bisexual his junior year of college and then came out as gay his senior year and ended up starting the Prism club with about 20 members to start off with. Though the club couldn’t be affiliated with the school, they could still hold events on campus.
DiCamillo said that he understood why the school was so tentative about this club because of the fine line between keeping the funding from donors with some reservations about the LGBTQ community but also creating a safe place for these students.
“There is a level of fear among the LGBTQ students,” said DiCamillo.
And he also said that there is a level of fear among the faculty and students because a lot of them just don’t know what to do with people of the same sex that are attracted to one another.
A senior film major, Hanna Kate McClendon, at The King’s College, wishes she knew where she fit in as a gay Christian going to a Christian college.
McClendon is one of the leaders of the LGBTQ discussion group on campus that started six or seven years ago. This group is not a formal club that is affiliated with the school nor is it a recognized student organization, so it doesn’t get funding from King’s. Because of this, they aren’t allowed to be part of the New Student Orientation club fair.
“The challenges that arise honestly, for me, are very understandable,” said McClendon. “And I think they just want us to stay quiet and keep our heads down.”
But even though they aren’t official, they are still growing. The group started off with about three people during McClendon’s freshman year but grew to have around 15 individuals showing up for each discussion which is held in the office of Eric Bennett, vice president for student development.
And as the group grows in size, the volume of their passionate, advocating voices grow as well.
“There’s more of us now and they’re getting a stronger voice,” said McClendon. “It’s the rise of the gays.”
For McClendon, DiCamillo and Crane, facing adversity in college allowed them to excel in the big city of New York.
On the 35th floor of the Freedom Tower is a cafe filled with nude loveseats placed in window nooks with matching nude pillows. White tables with brown chairs scatter the floor in methodically placed pattern.
Crane sits in one of the window nooks sipping on an iced black coffee out of a plastic cup with no straw because straws are bad for the environment.
His posture exudes confidence.
He left arm stretches along the back of the small couch and his left leg bends at a 45 degree angle with his shoe almost touching his dark pant leg. His green shirt hangs loosely off his small frame and his lips form a pout as he ponders his young life.
“It’s was where I always wanted to work and now that I’m here, it’s weird,” said Crane. “Like I’m 25, I work at Vogue, what’s next?”
His eyes drift off to look out onto the dark stone squares that make up the memorial and the towering buildings that make up the skyline of the city of New York, a city of endless possibilities.