I used to live on the corner of Duane Street and Hudson Street in Tribeca, situated on Duane Park at the turn of the Millennium in a 4 story walk-up about 7 blocks from the World Trade Center. The startup I had created at the time had just consummated a critical partnership who was also making a capital investment into the company, so my business partners and I decided to go out and party to celebrate for the night.
We had been working so many long, hard days and nights to reach this point we needed to blow off some steam and celebrate this milestone. Because my place was a spacious 2 bedroom, essentially the entire top floor of the building, both of my partners decided to crash at my place given we had a bit of an after hours there. The next morning I woke up to my puppy Jolie going crazy jumping on and off the bed, racing around, barking… just completely out of character. Being hungover and also short on sleep, I was slow to rise and headed to the bathroom.
CNN Live reports breaking news of the Twin Towers Attack in New York City
I could still see the remnants of last nights debauchery all over the living room and kitchen, not to mention a completely passed out business partner on my sofa. When I finished using the bathroom, I came out to grab some water and went to see what Jolie was freaking out about, assuming she either had to go for a walk or maybe did something she wasn’t supposed to. After a quick walk around my apartment and not finding anything out of place, I decided to pull out her leash.
While I was getting ready to go outside, I turned the TV on. Every single station was talking about terrorists and a special "Breaking News". I really wasn’t paying too much attention to what was being said by the reporter, it was just background noise for me. As the reporter continued I heard them mention the World Trade Center. I began to pay more attention to the news at this point.
I realized the reporter was talking about the first airplane had just crash into the World Trade Center! I immediately became glued to the TV. After a moment, I thought to myself "Oh, shit!" I better take Jolie out before she has an accident Once we reached outside, I walked across the street to the park for her to go to the bathroom. There were random people stopped on the side of the street staring up towards the sky. This prompted me to do the same and when I did, I could see the billows of smoke rising above the buildings that were blocking the view somewhat.
I asked the closest person what was going on and they told me "We are under attack by terrorists" and that the "World Trade Center had been hit by an airplane." Immediately I was alarmed and thought I needed to wake up my partners and let them know what was happening. I also wanted to go to my rooftop since I would have a clear and unobstructed view of the Twin Towers.
Heading back as quickly as possible, I walked into the apartment and one of my partners (the one on the sofa in the living room) was starting to awake from the sound of the television. I told him what was going on and he sat up straight. I said "Let’s go to the roof, we can see everything from there."
I woke up my other partner in the spare bedroom, gathered everyone and we headed up to the roof. We were all smoking cigarettes and kind of joking about what kind of idiots could have drove an airplane into the World Trade Center. "How could you miss it?!" As the conversation continued and shortly after our remarks, my business partners and I witnessed the second airplane crash into the buildings!
We fell silent for a minute or two and could do nothing but scream “Holy shit!” and “Oh my god!”. Our attitudes immediately changed. It went from "The pilot was such an idiot I hope no one was severely hurt." to "This doesn’t feel like an accident any more." I relayed the information that the person on the street shared with me and what I had seen on the news earlier. We all looked at each other and said "This is a really bad situation and we should probably get out of this neighborhood just in case anything else happens."
Fire Fighters in NYC September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
Around the same time we planned on temporarily leaving the neighborhood, our cell phones began to ring from friends and family, many of whom were concerned where we were, and urging us to leave the apartment or come to their homes on the Upper East or Upper West Side. I called for a cab and was told because of everything that was going on, there would be a longer wait time than normal.
I offered a large tip to the dispatcher if they could get us a car in under 15 mins. They agreed. At that point we headed back down to my apartment to gather our things. Since all of us lived in Lower Manhattan, we decided to stick together and head to the home of a good friend of ours from back in the 70’s who lived on the East Side. When the taxi arrived, we made our way downstairs. I took a backpack with a change of clothes and some toiletries just in case of an emergency.
Fire Fighters & First Responders September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
We hopped into the cab, nearly losing our ride to another pedestrian on the street trying to bribe the cab driver to take them instead of waiting for us. We were underway and off to the Upper West Side. The cab driver slowly drove away from my street and headed to the West Side Highway. As the cab pulled further away, none of us could stop watching in the rear window while fielding calls from friends in the city all asking if we were okay, calling friends we knew, sharing details etc.
I do not recall where exactly we were, but somewhere past Houston Street, my business partners and I watched the World Trade Center Buildings collapse in front of our eyes. The cab pulled further and further away. It was at that moment our cell service ceased to work and all of us became frantic for a moment before an eerie silence fell over us all. We were in complete shock.
Once at our destination, we tipped the cab driver generously as promised and wished him a safe rest of his day. We went up to our friends apartment where we were greeted with hugs and well wishes. As we became completely engrossed in conversations of what just happened, how it could happen and what we witnessed, we found out there was no chance for us to leave New York City.
The authorities had shut down all the bridges and tunnels in and out of the city. I wanted to take my friends to my mother’s house in Connecticut for a couple of days until things settled down but that wasn't a possibility. We decided to spend the next several days at our friend's apartment until we knew we could leave. There was no returning to any of our apartments in Tribeca and for all we knew, they might not even be habitable anymore. September 11, 2001 was the closest we have come to experiencing war up close and personal.