My apartment look[s|ed] right at the twin towers, about 8 (?) blocks away. (We're in Tribeca, just north of the WTC.) I was asleep (was a long night at the office) when the first plane hit the north tower at about 0840. We heard this rather loud BAM!, and I said to my companion, "This can't be a good thing." Got up to take a look, and saw the hole in the side of the building -- flames, smoke, debris pouring from the building (I was close enough that I could see papers flying from the gaping hole). There were actually TWO holes -- both dead center on different sides of the north tower. Looked as if the plane hit about 3/4 of the way up the tower -- though we had no idea that it was a plane that had hit. The news reports started coming in pretty quickly, though.
I grabbed the video camera and started taping. I was taping when the second hit occurred; I think I got it on tape. I saw a bright flash and the NE corner of the south tower exploded outward. Damage on that tower was definitely more toward the "corner" of the building, about halfway to 2/3 of the way up the tower. I didn't see a plane, so I thought that it was a bomb that had been planted inside the building.
When the second hit occurred, and it became painfully obvious that it was a terrorist attack, our proximity to the Federal Building really hit home. My companion said, "Let's get out of here." We quickly threw on some clothes, she grabbed her computer and I got my briefcase, and we headed down the stairs and onto the street.
People were running in different directions, but most were trying to put distance between themselves and the WTC. We headed across town in preparation to either catch a subway or walk uptown. (I needed to get to work, on 22nd St. Long story why that was/is so important, and is not relevant to the narrative.) The trains were filled beyond capacity, so we gave that up without even bothering to wait for a train.
We walked up 6th Ave, stopping regularly to turn and just look at the mess .... smoke was pouring from the towers, you could see flames in places. Emergency vehicles were trying to get downtown, fire companies were being scrambled. Overall, it wasn't as much mayhem as one might have expected ... many people were hysterical, but most were listening to news reports and/or just looking at the towers in disbelief.
At one point, as were standing there on 6th Ave looking back at the towers, we saw an explosion right at the primary point of damage on the south tower; we then watched in awe -- that's the only way to put it, just AWE -- as the south tower collapsed. Unlike the [later] collapse of the north tower, the south tower actually fell somewhat to the side and then dropped. It was incredible.
At this point, we could see Navy jets patrolling the airspace around Manhattan
We continued up 6th Ave., and suddenly heard screams from the crowd. People were running and looking toward the tower[s], and my companion said that something else had happened ... we crossed the street to take a look, and we could see that the second tower had collapsed.
The city is a mess, for the most part. My apartment building has been evacuated and has been "locked down" by the FBI. Apparently, we will not be able to return tonight. We'll probably sleep here at work.
We are all hoping that the attacks are over. It's incredible to look downtown and NOT see the towers. AFAICT, the towers have collapsed entirely; there appears to be no remains of them at all.
Feel free to forward this if you would like, and you can keep my name on it.
- Vince Sabio
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