There is so much I want to say. Where do I start? Well, the beginning would be nice, right? Now there’s a capital idea! For those of you who have never seen the Twin Towers in person, or toured the WTC, I’ll give you an inside look before I go into my thoughts on that tragic day.
When you walked into 2 WTC, you would hear the dinging of the express elevators. It sounds like the little bell a desk clerk at a small hotel would use to summon the bellboy. There was no need to push any buttons when you entered the car. The elevators were automatically controlled. After a set period of time, the doors would close, and you would ascend at a rapid pace to the “Sky Lobby,” which is just that. A lobby roughly 50+ floors up. Sometimes I would feel a popping sensation in my ears, and I would stretch my ear drums to help equalise the pressure.
For the record, the Eustachian tube on each side of your face is what helps equalise air pressure on both sides of the ear drum. Anyway, I love the Sky Lobby name. No other office building in NYC has such a concept. Not even the Empire State Building. Once you reach the Sky Lobby, you would transfer to another bank of elevators to go to your desired floor.
Going down in the express elevator was not for the faint of heart. It felt like you were free falling. Yes, it travels downward THAT fast. It always felt like the floor dropped out. But it always slowed down before you reached the bottom, and it would come to a very gentle stop. I miss riding the express elevators so much. Hearing the dinging as the cars beckon you to enter. If I ever lost my bearings for some odd reason, all I had to do was listen for the dings and follow the sound.
Inside the towers was like a city. There were stores, food vendors, restaurants, various street exits, and subway entrances. On the lower level was the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) trains to NJ. A standing train was damaged during the collapse, but two carriages survived. A blind trailer carriage now resides at the Trolley Museum in Kingston NY. Click on the link below to see it.
Just wanted to share this rather informative video. Viewer discretion is advised.
Back in the 1990’s I was working as a foot messenger in NYC making minimum wage. Lower Manhattan was a frequent destination since I would get deliveries to Donaldson, Lufkin, and Jenrette, (DLJ) the Stock Exchange, Goldman Sachs, and the international law firm of Millbank, Tweed, Handley and McCoy near the Staten Island ferry terminal. There were other firms that I visited for deliveries, but they are too numerous to mention here. When I needed a break, I loved going to the World Financial Centre, (WFC) which was connected to the WTC by a large, air conditioned pedestrian bridge because crossing busy West Street below was suicidal. It was like an oasis. It was air conditioned, had palm trees, benches, an Olive Garden restaurant, telephones, water fountains, restrooms, a high ceiling, and a gorgeous view of NY Harbour thanks to the huge windows that let in plenty of sunlight. I felt so relaxed after sitting down for a few minutes that I didn’t want to leave, but I had packages to deliver, so staying for a few hours was not happening. I loved the marble steps that led to the foot bridge and the marble floor was always clean. Words do not do it justice. The pedestrian bridge had big windows where you could see the traffic on West Street. It also makes one be thankful that someone had the foresight to include a bridge to connect the two buildings.
So now, what was I doing when the first plane hit? On that fateful morning, I was on my way to work at Sears, and I was running late. I didn’t have the radio on because I was not in a good mood. I also had my first car at the time, a rather amusing 1991 Chevy Cavalier. I arrived at work, and everyone was standing around one of the radios on the sales floor. One of the salesman told me that a plane had hit a building. Okay, I thought some annoying Cessna had hit a building. I’m standing there with everyone listening to the radio when the second plane it. I was in shock. I wanted to see what was going on, but none of the TV’s on the sales floor was connected to cable, and Riverhead is too far away from the city to receive broadcast signals without an amplified roof mounted antenna.
The store was located in the Riverhead commercial district. But all was quiet. Even though it was a sunny day, no birds was singing, there was no traffic, there were no people on the sidewalk. I’ll never forget that. I got permission to leave early since nothing else was going on. I turned on the radio when I got in my car, and the song that came on was “Put Your Lights On” by Santana. People were calling in to the radio station crying about what happened. When I got home and turned on the TV, the full impact hit me when the towers fell. I couldn’t cry because I didn’t know what to feel. I felt so empty. I called my friend Naomi to see if she was okay. She was working in the NYT building on Pearl Street, a few blocks south. Thankfully, she was well.
Nothing was moving in Manhattan. All subway service going to Manhattan was stopped. No express bus service to the outer boroughs. Not even a taxi or a pedi cab. Throngs of people covered in varying layers of toxic dust walked across the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges to find their way home. For most people, it literally took all night to get home due to limited service. Dozens of private boats evacuated thousands more. All those people covered in dust broke me. I wanted to help every one of them. At least a shower, a hot meal, and a shoulder to cry on. They looked so sad, so shell shocked, so tired, so broken. As I see it in my mind’s eye, tears start forming.
When the second plane hit, everyone above the impact site was either killed instantly, or they had minutes to live. Just like that, their fates were decided. There was no where to go. I saw a video of someone jumping out the window. That really hurt, and it quickly turned into anger. Not because the person took it upon himself or herself to jump, but because it was an act of pure desperation. After the jet fuel melted the internal framework, the towers came down, to the delight of the terrorists. I was angry enough to want to go to Iraq with a commando unit, and all the weapons and ammo that I could carry and snuff out the rat bastards that did this! I would have laid WASTE to everything in my path!
While we all were still grieving over lives lost in the WTC attack, American Airlines flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbour, Queens, on the Rockaway Peninsula. That stoked fears of another terror attack, but thankfully, it was not. After take-off from JFK Airport on November 12, the vertical stabiliser on the Airbus A300, snapped off, rendering the plane unable to maintain altitude and airspeed. I almost forgot about the souls who perished in that crash. Please let us not forget about them.
After a few months, I stopped watching the news because the coverage was 24/7 at this point, and I did not want to be reminded that the Twin Towers were gone. My sadness and grief slowly turned to anger. Why did this have to happen? We knew there was a threat, but no one took it seriously! And then it took YEARS for the Freedom Tower to be built due to squabbling with the Port Authority of NY/NJ about financing. That was disgusting. I am still angry about that. But its all water under the bridge.
The subway stations that were damaged in the collapse were all rebuilt. There is now a new South Ferry terminal on the Broadway Local line that replaces the old one that was functionally obsolete. The WTC terminal of the PATH train was also rebuilt. For a short time, one could observe trains leaving the terminal since the right of way (ROW) was visible from the outside. There was a small ceremony for the reopening of the Cortlandt Street WTC station on the Broadway Local line. The southern end had suffered damage.
The last time I saw the WTC was in 1996, when I quit my messenger job. I have not been back since. I regret that I have not been to Ground Zero to pay my respects, and I wanted to bring a friend so she could pay her respects. With the way NYC is now, I am reluctant to set foot on Manhattan bedrock. Thanks to Marxist NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, aka “Big Bird,” you are now required to have your papers to move about the city. Shout out to those members of the Jewish community of a certain age who know all about the importance of having your papers. Talk to them if you want to know what happens when their papers were not in order. I assure you, it was not a good thing.
When I met my current girlfriend, she told me about how she could have been one of the dead. She had a meeting in one of the towers that day, but she stayed home due to sickness. When the towers fell, everybody she knew was calling to see if she was okay. I never would have met her had she gone to that meeting. I am convinced it was fate that kept her away because we were destined to be together. Its a long story that only a select few know about.
Even though a lot of FDNY fire apparatus was damaged and sent to the closed Staten Island landfill, some survive as untouched museum pieces. One commuter bus was saved from the scrapper’s torch. MTA bus 2185 christened “Pamela” was parked when the towers fell, but was rebuilt. She now survives as a part of the museum fleet. She only comes out for special events, and she might see revenue service on occasion. She might run during Christmas and New Years, but that is questionable due to this Covid nonsense and a shortage of drivers. I’m glad the MTA saved this bus.
I long for the solidarity that existed for a few weeks afterward. We cried on each other’s shoulders, we were so helpful to one another, we always had a kind word for a stranger, no matter the skin colour, or ethnic lineage. We were all one. Now, most people have forgotten that. Being selfish and entitled is the order of the day. Now as we face a corrupt government determined to take away our rights and freedoms, we need unity more than ever. We have to hang on to hope that people will wake up and topple this regime before it is too late.
In closing, I wanted to say that the WTC did not solely consist of 1 and 2 WTC aka the Twin Towers. There were others in the vicinity, up to 7 WTC, but not as tall. They were all office buildings hiding in plain sight. When the towers came down, those buildings were damaged also.
Thanks for reading this long post. I had a lot to say. We will never forget.