It was a bad day. I work about a mile north of the WTC, south of Houston, at Spring St. While walking to work down Hudson St., I saw the first plane flying south, low over the Village. It had the sound of a plane going down. It was low. I knew something was wrong. I saw that the plane was big, but didn’t think it was airliner-sized. I speculated that maybe the twin towers could be a target. Didn’t see the impact, but heard and felt the explosion five seconds after seeing the plane fly overhead. Knew it was bad. Was pretty sure the plane was either into a tall building, or down in lower Manhattan, possibly the harbor. Ten seconds later I was seeing smoke above the buildings. Ten seconds after that I had the twin towers in view. It was such a sad sight, so real. Big black hole in the north face of the north tower. Fire.
I thought it must be a suicide pilot, flying solo, who wanted to go out with a lot of attention. Didn’t think it could be an accident. I was looking at the tower wondering how the people on those floors were going to get out of there. There was fire and damage on both of the faces I could see from my vantage point. I thought about how amazing it was that the building could withstand something like that, & remain standing. Then I wondered how long we’d have that black scar on the building as a reminder of that awful moment. Didn’t realize yet how awful a day it would become, of course. I thought it was over. I didn’t ever suspect that the scar would never need repairing.
Minutes later I was outside my office, where there was a clear view of the twin towers. I stood on the street with others just watching for about ten minutes. Then I went upstairs to my office, and was watching CNN with coworkers when the other plane hit. We heard the explosion of the second plane through open windows. Then the south tower fell. People around me were crying. I went back down into the street in front of the building where I saw the North tower standing alone on the skyline. It was so eerie and lonely looking, just one tower. Back upstairs in my office, I was talking to my mom on the phone when the other tower fell. People were leaning out the windows of our 7th floor offices. The whole skyline had changed. Impossible.
A displaced ex-coworker - who was supposed to be working in the WTC but had been late to work - arrived soon afterwards, not knowing where else to go. He was extremely distressed. Breaking down while on the phone with satellite offices to try to get news of coworkers.
Eight days earlier I was standing atop the south tower with a date, just before dusk, admiring this wonderful, amazing city. After exiting, we paused in the plaza between the two towers to just look up and stare. They were such elegant, stately buildings, and such icons of New York’s strength and enormous population.
I know it sounds shallow in the face of human loss, but I’m going to miss those two towers. They are the two victims I knew best.
Manhattan, September, 2001