September 17, 2001
I live in the West Village, and until last
week, worked out on the West Side, rollerblading or running from 14th
street down to the Staten Island ferry and back. Last Tuesday was no exception
and I was running 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
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.