There are certain events that touch you so deeply that you will forever remember where you were, who you were with and what you thought when you experienced or learned about the event. The assassination of President Kennedy and the attack on the World Trade Center are, for me, two such events. On the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, I keep remembering that morning in vivid detail. At the time, I was an Upper West Sider and a partner in a law firm that had three floors of offices in the Chrysler Building.
On the morning of 9/11, I was having breakfast in Times Square at the Marriott Marquee Hotel with a client who was going to give a deposition later that morning at my office in the Chrysler Building. After breakfast we caught a cab going east to Lexington Avenue. The Chrysler Building is on Lexington at the corner of East 42nd Street. It was a little after 8:45 am.
As we were driving and talking, the cab driver interrupted us and said we might want to hear the news he was listening to on the radio. We heard a vague report of a plane crashing into the north tower of the WTC. We immediately thought it was a Cessna or some other small plane. As the cab pulled up in front of the Chrysler Building, I saw hundreds of people pouring out and asked someone what was happening. The person told me a plane crashed into the WTC and the Chrysler Building had to be evacuated because it was so tall and could also be a target. No one had yet mentioned a jet plane. I was not sure what to do. Even though I was a lawyer, I was also a photographer and always had a camera with me.
My dentist was on the 59th floor of the Chrysler with views directly south over Manhattan to the WTC. I had no thought of the towers collapsing and at that time still thought a small plane had crashed into one of the towers, so I decided to go up to the 59th floor to see if the office was open so I could take a photograph to record this “historical” event. When I got there the office was open but empty. I could not believe what I saw. I snapped two photos which I have shown to only a few friends and family members, but which I now post here feeling the confusion, fear and chills I felt then. I quickly left and then had to walk back to the Upper West Side, because by then the subways were shut down and there was no bus service. All of midtown was one big parking lot.