- Postcards from NYC purchased days before the World Trade Center attack and never mailed.

Remembering 9/11

One of the most striking recollections of the day - every car, taxi, bus and truck on the island seemed to vanish into thin air that morning.

6w ago

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On the 34th floor of the mid-town Manhattan Sheraton hotel, the producer and reporter are preparing for a news conference and an appearance on the Today Show. They have no idea what happened just minutes earlier four miles away in lower Manhattan. The third member of the California based production team flew in that morning on the red-eye from Los Angeles. She walks into the hotel room just before 9:00 a.m. and turns on the TV to follow a news story first seen on a monitor in the lobby - the World Trade Center is on fire.

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A remembered and 'as it happened' video diary from NYC on September 11, 2001

At first the news coverage consists mostly of long lens images of smoke coming from the first tower and a few wide shots from the street. The scale is impossible to understand because the building is so massive. Many people, including the crew watching in the Sheraton assume that a small plane has flown into the tower. Maybe it was off course with mechanical issues, or maybe it was a suicide. Within seconds the scene switches to replays of the second tower being struck by a jetliner and a massive fireball engulfs both buildings. The scale of the damage is immediately clear.

In the hotel room the producer is on the phone with a staff member of the Today Show, at work in Rockefeller Center, the headquarters for NBC. The reality starts to sink in, "Everyone here just started running," says the staffer, "I'll have to call you back."

It would be many weeks before they would speak again. In those intervening days the world would be forever changed.

Where did the millions of cars, trucks, cabs and buses go? Within an hour they vanished - many likely left the city altogether, over the bridges or through the tunnels. The only wheeled movement still there: bicyclists and skateboarders.

Where did the millions of cars, trucks, cabs and buses go? Within an hour they vanished - many likely left the city altogether, over the bridges or through the tunnels. The only wheeled movement still there: bicyclists and skateboarders.

Outside the Sheraton on the streets in midtown it is a beautiful crisp Fall day. Nobody is thinking about the weather as the exodus begins. It's quiet, eerily quiet. Within an hour of the second plane hitting there isn't a car, taxi, bus or truck on seemingly any street in Manhattan. Every vehicle in the city disappears into thin air. As the crew starts the long walk with their video gear towards lower Manhattan kids on skateboards are doing slalom runs down the middle of 7th avenue. Every now and then an emergency vehicle speeds past. Everyone has one eye on the sky.

The news ticker banners in Times Square relayed real time information as thousands watched together in horror while the events unfolded, hour after hour.

The news ticker banners in Times Square relayed real time information as thousands watched together in horror while the events unfolded, hour after hour.

What followed was the story of a city in shock. It seemed like everyone knew someone who worked at the tower. The phone system was scrambled for hours so finding out who was safe was impossible. Slowly the shock turned to anger, then sadness as the day wore on. Finally, candles were lit and prayers were said as night fell.

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Comments (49)

  • The attack was really really terrible. I’m just happy that America stood up again, and absolutely owned those inhumane terrorists. May God bless the fallen first responders and victims of the September 11 attacks. May God also bless the families of the fallen. May God bless America. Today, we grieve our brothers and sisters who lost their lives in those fateful hours of the Fall day.

      1 month ago
  • I was unwrapping my birthday present on my 11th birthday on September 11th as I watched the towers fall....in absolute disbelief. Went to school and everyone was in silence. It was an inexplicable day. The images of people jumping out of the building still give me chills.

      1 month ago
  • Well written.

    I was at work in Kennett Square, a Philadelphia suburb about 100 miles from New York City. I remember hearing a news report saying a small plane had hit the WTC. Eventually that report was amended to a Jetliner instead of a small plane. A colleague of mine suggested that “maybe the plane was empty.” I remember thinking “no way it was an accident, and no way that plane was empty.” Then the second plane hit and we knew. We all knew. And then the Pentagon. And then the rumors just flew like paper airplanes that you could never quite catch.

    We just watched tv after that. We watched what, to a US native, seemed to be footage of Beirut, or Syria, or some other perpetually strife ridden region that appears on the nightly news. But it wasn’t Beirut. It was Manhattan, 2 hours up the New Jersey Turnpike. As a US citizen I need to consider myself very fortunate that such an intensely dreadful event is so rare, so rare as to be numbing in its horror. But I’ll never forget how scared I felt... or the anger.

      1 month ago
    • Thanks for your comments Mike! The 'small plane' report was the first we heard also, but within minutes the second plane hit and we knew we had been attacked.

        1 month ago
    • Must have been simply terrifying to be so close. Thanks for a very well written piece

        1 month ago
  • An absolutely amazing article - we must never forget the terrible events that unfolded on that day. Great Job

      1 month ago
    • Thanks Captain! Yes, we must never forget and we must work towards making sure another attack doesn't happen. There are varying opinions on how to prevent it from happening again. As they say, "your mileage may vary"

        1 month ago
  • I failed to really articulate well how eerily quiet it was that day. No horns, no screeching brakes or revving engines, no rattling buses or cursing taxi drivers. Just quiet. People walking slowly, quietly leaving the city. The Brooklyn Bridge nothing but foot traffic.

      1 month ago
    • I can’t even imagine ... and I have an active imagination.

      Beyond the sheer suspended disbelief and shock there is the magnitude of impact on people who were nowhere near, as close as you were to the event. The “six degrees of separation”...

      Read more
        1 month ago
    • I called my family back in California (as soon as I could get a line) and they all said, "Stay put, don't you dare go down there!" The first chance we saw we took off headed for lower Manhattan. I still don't think my mom has forgiven me, lol.

        1 month ago

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