September 11, 2001 (take one)

from the top of the World Trade Center in 1984

from the top of the World Trade Center in 1984

1. I first visited the  top of the World Trade Center in 1984.  I think I also got to the top a second time, at night.  It was an amazing view.  People who worked on the higher floors would comment about that, about how amazing it could be on a clear day.



After it was gone I had a dream that I was floating, weightless, in the same spot where I once stood on the observation deck.  I’d think of that again when awake.  I’d give people copies of the photos I’d taken from there, many years ago.   Some put them on their refrigerators or  bulletin boards.

The Empire State Building has a good view but to be near the top of the World Trade Center was just amazing.  You could see miles in many directions.  It gave you a different sense of New York.

2.  Minoru Yamasaki designed the World Trade Center.  He also designed several buildings in my neighborhood.  The Education building (on the Wayne State University Campus) especially reminds me of the  Trade Center.  Off and on I’ve got an eerie sense of deja vu (or a sort of “disconnect”) while walking through it.   It was built in the 1950’s, a few years before the Trade Center.  Yet something about the design seems similar.

I spent some time around the Trade Center, mainly at afternoon concerts or else just passing through.  It was part of New York.

3. Like many people, I also got a strange feeling looking for the Trade Center, staring at where it always was (and have it “not there”).  I remembered streets in the Village where I could see it and now I couldn’t.

This was especially strong in my first visit after the tragedy, in August 2002.  There were still memorials around the area with photos of the missing people.  Some of these were surprising and very moving.

At Ground Zero, the scene of the crime, there was still a bad smell in the air and I even coughed a bit.  I did a few drawings of what I saw there.

5. It had been awhile since the United States of America was really attacked.  During the War of 1812, Washington was burned by the British.  This happened in August of 1814.  The White House was badly damaged.  Many important buildings were destroyed.

I’m not exactly  sure of the next time this country was attacked  by “distant powers” or foreign governments.

I think that it was in World War One.  There were German attacks on the United States.  These were incidents of sabotage.

One, near Jersey City was especially destructive.  Ammunition was waiting transport to the war.  There was quite a lot of it, including TNT and other incendiary explosives.  It was blown up, attacked.

A number of people were killed.  The Statue of Liberty was badly damaged.  Windows were blown out in Manhattan.  People could feel shock waves from it nearly a hundred miles away.

This latest attack, in 2001, is by far the worst and most deadly.

6. I’ve watched a lot of films and videos and read a lot of books.  I’ve gone through periods where I really immersed myself in deep and detailed studies of the terrible events of September 11.

One recurring thing is that it seems like the same story told again and again from various perspectives and places.  The planes hit and the towers come down.

There were some amazing escapes and survival stories.  Some of these were through chance, such as the man sent down to the first floor to vouch for some clients, just before the plane hit.   Life and death could be as unpredictable as a coin toss or a throw of the dice.

Then there were stories like the group who cut their way out of a stalled elevator using a metal window-cleaning squeegee.  There were some amazing escapes through combinations of resolve, forward motion and luck.

The best estimate I could find is that between 13.000 and 15,000 people were successfully evacuated from the Trade Center while over 2000 were killed.  If things had been different, the survival rate could have been a lot higher.

7. There’s plenty more I could talk of.  These three sites below seem to have good information if you want to do further research.  In memory of those killed, in New York and elsewhere.  Then too, all my best to their survivors.

“an estimated 13,000–15,000 persons successfully evacuated the two World Trade Center (WTC) towers….”:

historic attacks on the U.S.:


One Response to “September 11, 2001 (take one)”

  1. arwulf arwulf / theodore grenier Says:

    beautiful as always, my friend. thanks very much.

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