I’ve never spoken much about my experience on 9/11/01. It created so many different feelings that I’ve had a difficult time talking about it. When I walked out of the subway at 9:30am on Broadway & Houston, it was an eerie scene and I immediately knew something was wrong. The sidewalks were empty, people were walking in the middle of the road, and there was no traffic. I started running towards work and when I rounded the corner on Spring St, I ran into someone and asked them what was happening – that’s when I first heard that two planes had hit the WTC. I ran over to West Broadway to see what was going on and both towers were on fire.

My office was on Grant & Wooster, so I walked over to check in with coworkers. While inside, we heard on the radio that the first tower fell. Nobody could believe it, so we went outside to West Broadway & Canal St to see what was happening. There were tons of people in the street, cars and taxis were parked with their radios on loud so everyone could hear what was happening. I also remember hearing one car with Howard Stern, who was still broadcasting live and covering the events.

While standing on the corner of W Broadway and Canal, we saw the 2nd tower fall around 10:30. This intersection is about 13 blocks from the WTC. It was most horrific scene to see it crumble from the top down, causing a mushroom cloud. At that point, people who were near the WTC when the first tower fell were walking by, covered in dust and soot. They looked like ghosts and people in the street just stared at them and sobbed.

At this point, it was unclear if there were going to be other attacks, so we all decided to head somewhere safe and get out of lower manhattan. I threw on my running shoes and ran from Canal St. to 34th st, where I caught a bus to 59th st, then ran home to 105th st. I spent the rest of the day with my roommates watching tv and calling friends and family to make sure others were safe. I remember that some of my friends working on Wall St were stuck in buildings and couldn’t leave until later in the day.

Memories of 9/11 have entered my thoughts, either conscious or sub-conscious, just about every day since then. I left NYC in Dec 2002, as I didn’t really feel comfortable or safe living in the city that I loved. Now that it’s been 5 years since 9/11 and I’ve been in San Francisco for a few years, I maintain a level of awareness that those who weren’t in manhattan wouldn’t comprehend. It was probably post-traumatic stress disorder at some points (fear riding the subway, looking at bridges just to make sure they’re still there, police sirens creating worries), but I’ve now come to terms with it and don’t have these fears any longer. Maybe I’ve accepted that it’s just a different world that we live in now.

Christian