Ground Zero Diary

"I knew that in an instant we might all be dead. I remember saying the same prayer over and over: 'Oh God, let us escape. Oh God, let me get back to my two boys.' "


Snapshots of a Tragedy

• A speechwriter on his way to work at City Hall hears someone on the street screaming, "A plane just hit the World Trade Center." After checking in with his office, he goes to a neighbor's apartment and watches as the second plane hits 2 World Trade Center.

• At a company on the West Side, about 20 employees begin a marketing meeting. Uncertain how to react, the meeting continues as the two towers burn in plain sight and start to collapse.

• As journalists gathered in the tents for the next Fashion Week show, news and rumors spread through the crowd. "I'm getting really agitated," one woman said. "I mean, there are so many journalists here. Couldn't we be a target?" "Don't worry," her friend answered. "Nobody gives a shit about fashion reporters."


It was around 8:35 am when I walked into 2 World Trade Center.

I was squeezing in a few errands on either side of my working hours. I had dropped my ten-year-old son Charley off at school in Brooklyn and then gone shopping at Century 21, a department store opposite the World Trade Center, to buy clothes for my other son, Sam, fourteen.

Afterwards, I withdrew some money at the HSBC bank and took the escalator downstairs to the main concourse and joined an incredible throng of people. It was 8:45 am, and thousands were coming to work.

I stopped to get a paper and cut diagonally through the crowd, weaving and dodging my way towards the subway station. I had almost reached the Uptown 1 and 9 station when there was an enormous explosion. The building shook.

I heard people say, "Oh, no." Some, not many, were screaming.

We all knew at that moment that we were under a terrorist attack. Most of us assumed it was a bomb.

I looked ahead past Banana Republic, past Citibank to the plaza outside. At that moment, there was a terrifying tidal wave of smoke filling the doorway. It began to shoot forward. The smoke had this enormous momentum that started to come towards us, as if it had a will of its own.

We ran. We ran together past the Coach store. We ran to get out of the path of this enormous wave of smoke. It was like we were being chased. All the people on the concourse ran. We turned right, heading toward the PATH trains.

As we ran, shop assistants were calling in doorways, "What happened? What happened?" But we were running so fast we couldn't answer them and they ran with us. Some people were crying; some people were screaming.

We moved as one body. No one pushed and no one shoved. We all had the same intention: to get out of the building.

I saw a door open and a young security man stepped out. Remembering the 1993 bombing, I thought there might now be a secure bunker to go to. I asked, "Is there somewhere we can go, somewhere safe?" He looked frightened. "I don't know," he said. "This is my first day. What's happening?"

Next: We walked faster. We ran, people still helping each other ...