Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 25, 2011

10 years after 9/11, New York residents reflect

Life in city has been forever changed

By Michael Falco

NEW YORK — Ten years after 9/11, New York residents reflect on the tragic events of the day – and how life in the city has been forever altered.


Midwood, Brooklyn -- Musician

What are your memories of Sept. 11?

I drove upstate early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to do some recording in the country. I remember that it was one of the most beautiful days I have ever seen — a crisp clarity of light you could see for miles. When I arrived in Ulster County, I received a call to turn on the news. Two hours away from my apartment on 14th Street and 7th Avenue, my friend and I stared at the televised horror, transfixed.

How have things changed since then?

Well, in some ways, everything's changed, I think, about American culture, generally, more than just NYC. But New Yorkers are, true to their reputation, pretty gritty and resilient. I don't think things are very different.


Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- Research Scientist

What memories do you have of Sept. 11?

I was a freshman at Stuyvesant High School, downtown, so I was about a week or two into school on Sept. 11. We were sitting in Spanish class when the planes hit, and [we] saw the second one collide into the tower, just a few blocks away, out of our classroom window. Our school was turned into a triage center [and] we were evacuated by Secret Service agents about an hour or two after the first plane hit. I remember turning back as I left the school and seeing this huge plume of smoke suddenly come up. It wasn't until I got home that I realized it was the north tower collapsing.

How has the city changed since that day?

I'm not sure it has, quite honestly. If anything, maybe I think that there's a sense, among New Yorkers, that only another New Yorker can relate to what that day was like — that it was a certain kind of communal experience, that changed us, and changed the city but not necessarily in a clear-cut way.

I think it's subtle though, and it's rare that I notice it day to day. It's more in the kind of glance that you'll give to any other New Yorkers in the room when the subject comes up, that you, and they, know what it was like.


Morningside Heights, Manhattan -- Researcher

What are your memories of that day?

It was simply incomprehensible. The smell of the burning, collapsed buildings just lingered on … There was literally no way not to think about the attacks, at all times, for weeks afterward, as the smell was an ever-present reminder. Life seemed paused. Schools were closed. Businesses were closed. All you could do was visit the makeshift memorials.

How has the city changed since Sept. 11?

Everything that seemed so different and permanent in the aftermath of the attacks has become routine and has reverted to the way it was before.  I think it’s kind of the same for the fire and police departments, even. It seemed like we would become a friendlier, more helpful, cohesive city after the attacks, but that didn't take long to revert, either. The city has definitely changed, but I don't know how much has to do with 9/11.


Sugar Hill, Manhattan -- Information Technology

What do you remember from Sept. 11?

I woke up late that morning — around 10:30. I remember panicking because my mother worked in Tower 7. I was very upset until we heard from her around 2. She had been late to work that day and her train stopped in the tunnel after the first attack. Once my family was accounted for, I tried to go help at ground zero, but they were turning away volunteers by then.

[Ed: The original 7 World Trade Center building was located across from the twin towers and destroyed in terrorists attacks; the current 7 World Trade Center opened in 2006.]

How has the city changed since 9/11?

It's hard to remember what NYC was like before 9/11. It seems normal now to have cops with assault rifles on guard duty, K-9 teams in Time Square, and “If You See Something, Say Something.” signs in the subway. I think we all take the threat that we live under more seriously.

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