On September 11, 2001 I wrote a note from a Manhattan office about three and a half hours after the 9/11 attacks:
“It is insanity all over this city! People were screaming from the subway stations when it happened. All public transportation to get home is unavailable. People are walking 50-100 blocks to get home. The city is not allowing anybody in or out of the city. It’s like a mass exodus all over the sidewalks. The looks on peoples’ faces are that of disbelief, and you know what everybody is whispering about. I have never seen so many cell phones out at once. People are emerging from the streets in dust. Ambulances, G-Men, and cops are all over the place. Lines are already forming outside of the supermarkets. Whoever did this is going to pay dearly.”
Along with a crowd of others, I had already seen the second plane attack on the World Trade Center’s South Tower from a TV monitor at a local gym in Manhattan. We could stand in the middle of the street, as there were few cars going by, and see the massive smoke rising above both towers.
Workers were walking up from the financial district and were completely covered in white dust, as if they had just come from a war zone. Some, as I wrote ten years ago, came running out of the subway stations screaming.
Bad information circulated around the city about what was happening at the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and New York. In fact, fake bomb threats were rumored to be called into the Viacom building that day.
At the time, my office was located in Times Square. Many of us watched the disaster further unfold on the jumbotrons outside. An MTV colleague of mine ran out telling everybody, “The Pentagon was just bombed!” At that point, everyone looked towards the sky with concern.