As soon as she heard the news, journalist Wickham Boyle rushed
to P.S.-I.S. 89, about four blocks from the towers, to pick
up her child. "I jumped on my bike and headed out through the crowds,
brandishing my press pass. I saw my Henry, goofy with a bunch of
friends. I told the principal I was taking as many as would come
with me. Before we hit the streets, I gave directions: 'Stay together;
hold hands; keep moving forward. Listen to me.' By the time we made
it across the West Side Highway, a third of them were crying. I
kept moving calm kids over to the hysterical ones, switching partners
in mid-run. As the first tower fell, a huge column of smoke began
rushing toward us. I yelled, 'All my kids against the wall
all my kids, stand still!' "
Even after the first plane hit the south tower, Stewart Sloan,
a structural engineer at the Port Authority, continued to work.
His office was on the 74th floor of the north tower. "I called my
mother and a good friend to let them know I was okay." When the
second plane hit, Sloan and about five of his co-workers still didn't
leave. "We had absolute faith in the strength of the building,"
Sloan says. "I went over to my buddies nearby and checked in with
them. All of us had an aversion to the stairwell because we had
all experienced the crowded, dark, and smoky stairwells eight years
ago." By the time they cleared out, the stairwell was empty until
about the 25th floor. Near the sixth floor, Sloan felt what he now
believes was the collapse of the south tower. "I'm sure the firefighters
knew from their radio what had happened, but they didn't tell us,
and they stayed at their posts and continued to guide us out," Sloan
says. "I turned around and watched the top of my building coming
down. I stood and watched one floor after another, after another,
At 10:01 a.m., filmmaker Tony Bui was sprinting away from his
apartment on Greenwich and Rector Streets, trying to outrun
the wall of dust and debris. People were tripping, falling, choking
in the cloud; he held his sweater over his mouth and raced into
the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, climbing around and over stopped cars.
"So much debris and soot and smoke went into the tunnel with us
that it was hard to breathe in there," he says. "I thought we were
gone. It was like Pompeii." But up ahead, some women found a service
door. "I heard this massive yelling Go to the door! Go
to the door! and everyone just ran." Seconds later, they
were in another section of the tunnel, still packed with frozen
traffic, but where the air, at least, was clear. They ran the rest
of the way to Brooklyn, emerging into the sun on the Gowanus Expressway.
On Church Street, a block from the Trade Center, at 10:30, hoses
are tangled all over the pavement amid rubble and ash. Firemen
and volunteers are trying to lug them away from debris. No one seems
to be in charge. A fireman comes up: "Does anyone know where Tower
One used to be?" "Right there," says someone, pointing almost straight
Laura Florman sits in the courtyard of Independence Plaza,
the high-rise where she's lived for 22 years. Her 38th-floor apartment
faced the Twin Towers, four blocks away. "The worst part was the
people jumping out," she whispers. "There must have been a dozen
or twenty that I saw. There was one man tethered to a rope, swinging,
and then the rope broke."
Up in Greenwich Village, Christos Stavropoulos, a doctor at St.
Vincents, had been performing abdominal surgery when he saw
the top of the World Trade Center explode from his operating-room
window. "We finished obviously we can't leave the patient
in the middle," says Stavropoulos, 31. "And then everything else
was canceled that was not urgent." Some emergency-room arrivals
died on the table. "One fireman died of crush injuries; that was
the worst thing I saw. He was together, but obviously there was
a lot of internal damage," he says.
At 11:30 a.m., the lines to donate blood at St. Vincents stretch
from the corner of 11th Street and Seventh Avenue all the
way around the block, past Ray's Pizza and up Sixth Avenue.
Scores of people arrive each minute. Hospital staff shout for people
to sort themselves by blood type; after a while someone makes cardboard
signs with O+ and O- on them, and everyone lines up.
On Varick Street, Dave Macri is leaning against a tree face-first.
He has on an orange trading jacket. "When I saw the second plane
hit, I went into the stock exchange. They locked us in on the floor.
You could feel the explosions. The electricity went out for a second,
kind of wavered. You think there's tension there on a normal day,
forget it. I went outside. It was fucking Mount St. Helens. Fucking
Salvador Dalí in real life. I have a lot of friends up there. They're
probably dead. It was like the moon or something, dead silent. The
soot was so thick you could barely hear the sirens. And look at
it now. You look to the left, wouldn't think anything was going
on. It's a gorgeous day."
just wanted to get away from any capitalist shit anyone would want
to bomb. I figured the Village was safe.. "