September 17, 2001
I was jogging down the path just above the World Financial center when I heard a plane flying very low, and very fast, directly above. I looked up 2 seconds before the first plane hit.
Hundreds of us stood there, crying for all the people on that plane and at work in the WTC, while we speculated on what could have happened. We saw that it was an American Airlines plane, and wondered if there had been technical difficulties, or if the pilot had taken ill. Staring at the flames bursting forth from the tower, we noticed people waving shirts out the windows, screaming for help. I stepped forward to point one such person out to a police officer when the second plane hit. We felt the heat of the blast on our faces.
That's when we knew it wasn't an accident. That's when we all realized our city was under attack. The first word that came to mind was "terrorism", and that's when everyone began to run. Thousands of people began to run up the west side path, sirens were screaming, we stopped to look and saw people by the dozens falling out windows. Everyone was crying. We continued our march uptown, wanting to get out of the way, thousands on a path barely wide enough for a car to drive down. Thousands heading north, away from the destruction.
There were people headed south, running south, riding bikes, pushing strollers. What could these people want downtown? "My baby is in that daycare center!" one of them screamed, with tears choking her voice. There were dozens of people running south, against our flow, to go get their children.
By the time we hit 14th street, the first building began to fall, and with that, many of us fell on the street. We fell to our knees, crying and screaming, not knowing what was going on. Without the benefit of TV or radio, we had no idea the Pentagon had been hit, no idea what was going on, we just knew we were witnessing the most devastating destruction New York had ever seen.