The View From The Wtc Plaza

by

10/09/2001

2 dey st ny 10007

Neighborhood: World Trade Center

I worked on the 54th Floor World Trade Center 2. On Tuesday 9/11, I was on the plaza of the World Trade Center when I saw the first plane hit WTC 1. It was 8:43 am.

Since Labor Day we had been very busy and the entire office had been arriving very early for work. On Monday 9/10 I worked until 8:00pm. I was in touch with many people in the building that night. But Tuesday was Primary day in New York and I decided to vote, even though I was late leaving for work. Due to confusion at the voting center it took longer than normal.

I arrived in Lower Manhattan at about 8:38. Walking up Dey Street I decided to stop for coffee and walked across Church Street onto the Plaza of the World Trade Center. I called my father on my cell phone and we were talking which kept me from entering the building. I was on a bench right in front of the WTC 1 and turned slowly for no real reason and saw the entire plane hit the tower. I saw the wing extended from the building on the south side and a large explosion. Then smoke. Then everything was frozen, very still, with a perfect New York blue sky framing the backdrop of explosions. I ran when the glass and metal begin to fall from the sky hitting all around me. Only moments before there were many people around on the plaza like myself, but while I ran I saw nothing, no person, no car. I made it back across to Dey Street and into the loading dock of Century 21 building (the TV photos of this building show it to be demolished).

I don’t remember from there when I made it to Broadway (about a half block east). On Broadway people were collapsing and crying. Much of this time is a slow motion blur. I remember a man screaming, “Fuck this, I’ve been to war for this country, not here.” From this position on Broadway I witnessed the first wave of people jumping from WTC 1. It is the most horrible thing I have ever seen. A doctor next to a group I was with fell to his knees, his stethoscope hitting the ground. Everyone seemed frozen and in shock. From there I heard but did not see the second plane hit WTC 2. The sound was of a nuclear bomb. My cell phone read: 9:03AM.

At that point I began running north. I got to East 4th Street completely dazed. On Houston St. I saw the WTC 1’s needle crumble to the ground and heard on blasting radios that both of the towers had fallen. From there I made my way to the Williamsburg Bridge and made my way back home. Tens of thousands of people were walking across the bridge, a surreal exodus no one was quite prepared to cope with.

Now on Thursday afternoon I have made my way back to the city. I have seen co-workers and friends. The company I work for has been extraordinarily courteous and compassionate with helping all of the employees. The relief of seeing faces of others on my floor was a real blessing. I have done very mundane activities like going to the bank, going shopping that seem very important in order to move past the events of Tuesday. So many people were just minutes from the building, everyone trying to reclaim some since of reality by describing how they got out.

I never thought I would work in the World Trade Center. But I enjoyed my work there. Like all artists, I needed the money, but I also made many friends and learned a good deal about other parts of life, other skills that I never knew I possessed.

The views of the harbor were magnificent and inspirational. I remember ending long days by looking out the windows and feeling so very refreshed and glad to be in such a beautiful city like New York.

But that view is gone and so much has changed. Though I have felt such anger and frustration, more that ever in my life, I know I will survive. I made it out alive for a reason.

I always used to sign off my emails with, “Your Man in the Tower”. Though nothing of the tower is still there, there is still the power of thought and doing something to change this world for the better that will float in the air forever. All we need to do is reach up and find it.

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§ 5 Responses to “The View From The Wtc Plaza”

  • Tom B says:

    This was wonderfully written and very touching. Thanks for sharing.

  • Diane Coady says:

    An important story that depicts the before of a tragedy, when the simplicity of a day becomes indelibly altered. Thank you for remembering.

  • Sharon Edwards says:

    Charles, this is the first time I’ve read this. It is beautifully written and so tragic. I know you went through all of the emotions and torments after that day, but have survived and have been blessed many times over since that clear blue and very dark day. Isn’t it always the clear sky we remember?

  • Margaret Hooks says:

    Hey Charles! Haven’t read or seen this until today! So touching, So real, So Tragic! I remember when I heard the attack was happening (well, when the plane hitting the 1st building)… I happened to remember the sky over downtown Charlotte being as blue as I have ever seen. I was driving into work and Catherine was calling me trying to explain what was happening! I can’t begin to imagine being in the middle of such horrible chaos as you were, we were incredibly affected by it here so many miles away! So glad you and the family were safe!! I hope and pray we never see such a day horrific again!

  • William Turk says:

    Charlie,

    Thanks for sharing. Your story reminds us that we must never take anything for granted, but we must cherish every day and every blessing we have received. Peace be with you, brother.

§ Leave a Reply

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