Memories of 9/11

From CAA Members

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we asked CAA members to share their reminiscences.  After all, many worked not far from the World Trade Center.  (If you still want to share a reminiscence, send it to

To read articles about 9/11 from the Fall 2001 CAA newsletter, click here.

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Lisa Barbaro sent a link to a short documentary, narrated by Tom Hanks, about the boatlift that occurred on 9/11/01 as a result of the Twin Towers attacks.  "It was the largest sea evacuation in history; 500,000 people were taken off Manhattan Island in nine hours by an all-volunteer 'navy' of New Yorkers in their boats.  Yes, this was larger even than the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II.  Sorry about the length everyone – but this one is good.  Real good.  Five stars out of five."  

[NOTE: All photos below taken by Gary Heinze with a disposable camera on 9/11/01. 
Read his account below.]

From Hans van den Houten:  A glorious late summer day awaited those rushing to their offices on the inauspicious day of September 11, 2001. I joined the crowd merging into the subway station at Astor Place, as I had decided to ride the subway to my office in the Lincoln Tower on 42nd Street, rather than walking the distance, as I frequently did to promote good health.
     Arriving in the building’s lobby, I hastened to the bookstore to buy The New York Times and was very surprised to find a huge crowd watching the small TV set appended to the ceiling above the magazine rack in the store. “It must have been a small plane that crashed into the building.” “No, it must have been a gas explosion,” volunteered another one in the crowd. I watch a few minutes, looking at the flames leaping from 1 World Trade Center, as it occurred to me that it would be near impossible for a small plane to make such damage. I recalled when I worked for D&B International on the 90th floor of 1 WTC in the early 1980s, we learned about the small plane corridor, way below us, and right in line with the Hudson River. Large commercial planes were flying much higher and would not be traveling south, but usually north to the New York airports.
     I ran to the elevator. It was just after 9 am when I exited the elevator on the 51st floor, to reach the offices of my employer E.J. Lance Management, an executive recruitment firm. Bursting through the door, I was met by our receptionist, who was hysterical, trying to tell me to join Elliott, our senior partner, in his south-facing office. Just as I was riding the elevator, a second explosion rocked the second tower, 2 WTC.
     Our senior partner was transfixed by the horrifying scene a few miles south. I joined him to listen to the radio. The reports – on events we were now witnessing from afar, but so clearly visible on this beautiful morning – were confusing. Flames and smoke kept bulging out of the buildings and, while we probably should have left the office for safer locations to street level, we were in no way going to take ourselves away from this awful specter unfolding in front of our eyes. It was like a silent movie, mesmerizing us with improbable vistas of a world disintegrating.
     Meanwhile, we heard radio reports of the now too familiar events occurring in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, plus all kinds of speculations, including suggestions that the MetLife Building, just a block from us, was also a possible target. The latter should have given us plenty of reason to run out of our offices and get to a safer place, yet we could not tear ourselves away from the horror we were witnessing through our own eyes, as well as through the telescope in Elliot’s office. The radio made it even worse, as we learned of those who were jumping from the WTC buildings and escaping from the towers, disheveled and confused.
     Just before 10 am, our receptionist, still on call at the front office, said I had a call in my office. Shortening the call immediately, I rushed back to Elliot’s office just in time to see the South Tower, 1 WCT, starting to collapse on itself and producing a horrific cloud of white and grey ashes, which started to roll across the southern part of Manhattan, obscuring hundreds of buildings.
     About a half hour later our silent horror movie provided another frightening episode, as the North Tower started to disintegrate and another fast moving cloud enveloped lower Manhattan. The tragedy on view seemed complete. After another half hour, we decided to get out of the building to return home.
As I lived on Ninth Street just off University Place, I had to walk against the stream of refugees from the horror of downtown. Ashen-faced men and women were rushing to get uptown out of the way of the terror they just experienced. Ash-covered individuals, some with torn clothes, some with streaks of blood on their arms and faces, rushed past me, while I made my way downtown. Passing through Union Square, I saw groups of people gathering; the first notes with appeals about those missing and photographs with personal details were being put on trees and lamp posts. I walked on as if in a dream. Arriving at 14th Street, I was stopped by police officers requesting an ID to confirm my residence below 14th Street, as all traffic had been blocked from downtown, except for emergency vehicles and fire engines. Having vouched for my residence, I continued home and proceeded to follow the developments on TV. My wife had also returned from her studio. We both were in a state of agitation: We felt that we had to do something to help those in peril downtown, but the instructions on TV were clear – not to venture anywhere near the downtown area. Later we found relief for our anxiety, when requests were broadcast to donate dry woolen socks and food, such as fried chicken, to several centers for the benefit of the rescue workers and firemen. We bought six chickens, put them in the oven and, together with several packs of woolen socks, delivered them to a collection center in Greenwich Village. For some reason we felt much better, as if we were now connected directly to the events developing downtown.
     During the night I woke up and remembered that one of my candidates for a position with Standard & Poor's in Tokyo might well have been in his office in 2 WTC. Yugi Goya had been offered a senior position in Japan. We were finalizing the contract and the arrangements for him to return with his family to Tokyo. I did not recall his exact address, but the next morning I checked his coordinates in the office, confirming that he worked on the 82nd floor of 2 WTC, where his current employer, Fuji, had its New York office.
     I felt terrible not knowing what to do, as a call to his office was impossible; the office was now part of the rubble in downtown. With a heavy heart, I called Yugi’s home in Rye, NY. His wife acknowledged that Yugi had not returned the evening before from Manhattan, but that she held out hope that he might still call or find his way home. She reacted very stoically and asked me to call again in a day or so, which, of course I did. This time I was connected to a neighbor, who told me that Yugi had not returned and that they feared the worse. His wife was too distraught to come to the phone. I did not hear from her again; my last call to her home several months later was answered with a disconnected phone message.
     On the 10-year anniversary date, I decided to locate Yugi’s name on the Web and found him listed as one of those who had perished in the collapsed tower. This confirmed an earlier article, which appeared in The New York Times, in which an American Fuji employee related the following, which I paraphrase: “Fuji employees were all well equipped for a disaster. Following the bombing of the WTC in 1993, they were all provided with an emergency package containing flashlights, face masks, health bars and a few other useful items for emergency purposes. On 9/11, all Fuji employees had been directed to the stairwell on the 82nd floor and proceeded to descend to the ground floor. Encountering a number of firemen on their way up the tower, around the 50th floor, they were asked to briefly exit the stairwell. Just then, opening the door to the floor, they heard an announcement that the building was secure and that everyone was requested to return to their offices. At this point, all the American Fuji employees continued their way down and out of the building, but most of the Japanese staff returned upstairs. A dozen of the Japanese employees of Fuji died in the inferno and later collapse of 2 WTC; Yugi Goya was among them.
     On the day after the attack, I received a call from the Consul General of the Netherlands in New York, Bob Hiensch, requesting my help in locating Dutch citizens working in New York, to ensure that they were safe and sound. That day I was on the phone for several hours locating members of the Dutch Financial Club. I established that all were safe, including two who grounded at the Gander Airport in Newfoundland, in two separate diverted planes. Inge Lariby was the sole Dutch citizen who perished in the towers’ collapse.
     During the afternoon of that day after the attacks, we were shocked by a message on the public address system of our building at 60 East 42nd Street, announcing that we had to evacuate the building immediately, as a bomb threat against the Lincoln Tower had been received. We rushed to the stairwell and with great caution descended 50 floors down to the street, assisting some elderly employees down the many stairs. We found ourselves on the street, innocent babes in a city in chaos, not knowing what to do next, where to go and where to hide. We joined many others in a local bar around the corner, wondering WHAT IF? Ninety bomb threats were apparently reported on the day after 09/11.
     On the first Sunday after the tragedy, I was approached by two reporters of the Dutch TV program NOVA, who subsequently came to my apartment to interview me concerning the events and my experience of that terrible day. After half an hour, I asked them to follow me into University Place with their camera. I pointed to the space in the sky where we would have normally seen the two towers in the distance. I told them to focus on that void, which told the story more poignantly than my observations.
     We continued the few blocks to Washington Square, where hundreds of people were gathered in quiet conversation, burning candles, singing sad songs around strumming guitars and reading messages appealing for word of those who were lost. These gatherings were very moving – people connecting with strangers, neighbors, friends and families, all seeking to find a meaning in the horror of these inexplicable events that had overcome the city and the nation.
     I am reminded of that day on September 11, 2001 every time I sign on to my online brokerage account: I selected a photograph of the Twin Towers as my security image. I annotated the photo with the following words: “The Way It Was!” Indeed, that was the way it was, and America and the world will never be the same again.

From Gary G. Heinze (written in "Heinze-sight" on September 11, 2011): Toward the end of my last day in my office on the 82nd floor in 2 World Trade Center (WTC), I watched thunderstorms approach Manhattan from the Jersey City area across the Hudson River. It was about 4 pm on Monday, September 10, 2001.
      My staff and I from the Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Ltd. (DKB) were located in space on that floor belonging to Fuji Bank (Fuji). Fuji occupied the 79th through 82nd floors of 2 WTC. I was SVP & Head of the Credit Review Department at DKB. At the time, DKB was in the beginning stages of a three-way bank merger with Fuji and the Industrial Bank of Japan (IBJ), forming Mizuho Corporate Bank. My staff and I were sharing space with Fuji on the 82nd floor in 2 WTC, although most of DKB was located on the 48th through 50th floors in 1 WTC.

      There were heavy rain squalls that afternoon that were passing from New Jersey to Manhattan. The cloud and rain patterns were interesting and beautiful, as they had been on many occasions from that vantage point, as well as from the 50th floor of 1 WTC, where I had previously worked.

      That afternoon there was a horizontal ridge of low clouds over New Jersey that was framed on either side by heavy rain downpours, forming the image of a stage with curtains. As the two downpours moved, it gave the appearance of the curtains closing.
  In hindsight, the significance of that image was, unfortunately a foreshadowing. These are my last memories of that office in 2 WTC.
      I awakened later than usual the morning of September 11, 2001 because I had been up until 2:30 am the night before cleaning up a flood in my apartment in Floral Park, NY. I took the LIRR from Floral Park to Penn Station and arrived there at about 8:20 am. I then waited on the platform for the E train, which (uncommonly) took nearly 15 minutes to arrive. The platform was overflowing with commuters as I managed to squeeze onto the packed, first car of the train. The train proceeded downtown to its terminus at Chambers Street/World Trade Center. I got off the E train and walked further downtown underground into the concourse level of the WTC, as I did on most days.
When I entered the WTC concourse at about 8:50 am, I encountered a Port Authority security officer who told me I could not walk any further through the concourse (to 2 WTC). She instructed me to take the escalator up to the street level. Arriving at the street, I exited onto Church Street, near Fulton Street.
      There was some debris on the ground, including some broken glass, white business papers and what appeared to be building insulation. I crossed Church Street and, standing in front of the Millenium Hilton Hotel along with many other people, looked up to see 1 WTC with flames coming out of two sides of the building on the uppermost floors. I happened to arrive at the WTC about four minutes after the first plane had flown into the building, although I had no idea of the cause of the fire at that moment.
      I stood there in front of the Millenium Hotel for a few minutes and then decided to walk around to the south side of 2 WTC on Liberty Street to see if I might see any of my staff exiting the WTC. I was standing near the fountain just under the overhang of the front of the Deutsche Bank building (originally the Bankers Trust Company building), across Liberty Street from 2 WTC at 9:03 am, when the other plane slammed into the building about 80 stories directly above me. Although I did not see the plane hit the building, it was the loudest double-explosion I had ever heard; the first being the impact of the plane and the second being the fiery explosion out the other side.< At that moment, I ran into the lobby of the Deutsche Bank building along with dozens of other people.
      We were in the lobby for no more than 10 minutes when building staff directed us to exit the building. I went out onto Greenwich Street and walked south to Rector Street. Turning left onto Rector, I walked across town, past Church Street, to the corner of Rector and Broadway, which was at the southeast corner of Trinity Church. It was only then that I had the chance to look back and up, only to see 2 WTC in flames as well.
      My stomach sank as I realized that, what was happening was NO ACCIDENT! I still had no idea that airplanes had caused this terrible calamity, however.
      While observing this horrible sight, I overheard someone talk about buying a disposable camera. I went into a nearby Duane Reade drugstore and purchased one. I then proceeded to walk up Broadway in the street, snapping photos of the WTC as I went. There was little traffic on Broadway, except for the vehicles of the brave first responders who were racing TOWARD the WTC. There were hundreds of people lining the sidewalks on the east side of Broadway watching in quiet disbelief. I reached Park Row, where there were thousands of people, and made my way to a spot in front of J&R Music on Park Row near Beekman Street. I took a number of additional photos from there, including a couple as 2 WTC was collapsing. The sight, the rumbling of the ground and the roar of the collapse were the most horrific thing I have ever experienced. I could not believe what was happening.

      Within seconds, a huge white cloud of dust and debris came racing across the church and churchyard (cemetery) of St. Paul’s Chapel between Broadway and Church Street and Vesey and Fulton Streets, enveloping the church as it traveled. Upon seeing this, I ran across Park Row, up past the east side of City Hall, past the Municipal Building and the court houses on Foley Square. For a period of minutes I looked back as I ran, trying to outrun the white cloud that was barreling toward me. It felt like I was in a disaster movie, except THIS WAS REAL!
      Fortunately, the winds were blowing from west to east and I was running north. I was able to outrun the dust cloud as it lost its original momentum and was extremely lucky to avoid direct contact with the airborne particles. I continued running and then slowed to a fast walk as the imminent danger of the cloud diminished. As I walked north along with thousands of others, I took advantage of every opening I could find to speed my passage. At one point the way clear was to walk in front of a man shooting a video camera, which was something I would not have done under normal circumstances. I cut in front of his camera and continued my trek.

Aside: It ends up that the man with the camera was one of the French brothers (filmmakers), Jules and Gedeon Naudet. The Naudet brothers were in New York filming a documentary on the experiences of a probationary firefighter in the New York City Fire Department. The brothers were at the firehouse of Engine 7, Ladder 1 on Duane Street in lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001. Their documentary, which is entitled 9/11 captured the sound of the first jet plane flying low overhead and then the video image of the impact of that plane into 1 WTC. As a result of my walking in front of their video camera, there are two short sequences (3-4 seconds) of me in the video, about halfway through the film.< In the first sequence I am approaching the camera on the left side of the screen and in the second, I am passing directly in front of the camera from left to right.

I continued my hike uptown, witnessing dozens of additional emergency vehicles rushing TOWARD the WTC. It was only then that I paused and envisioned the courageous first responders who were on the ground and then of all the unfortunate souls who did not escape when 2 WTC came down! As I walked, I stopped at one point to look back and witness the collapse of 1 WTC at 10:28 am. Eventually, I waited on a line to use a pay phone, since cell phone service was inoperable. At about 10:40 am, I was finally able to call my partner, Pamela Shiells, to tell her I was okay and asked her to call other members of my family to relay that message.

Aside: That morning, my daughter Jennifer was in class at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, NJ. She could see the Twin Towers in flames from her classroom and witnessed the collapse of both towers before she got word of my safety. My other daughter, Emily, had just begun her first full-time job (after college) in midtown Manhattan on September 10, 2001. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she traveled to the WTC that morning to visit her first client and she was fleeing uptown as I was. In hindsight, I'm glad I did not know she was there that morning because I might have put myself (more) in harm's way trying to find her!

Fortunately, everyone from my bank, DKB, survived the horrific events of that day, safely evacuating from 1 WTC after the first plane hit it about 45 stories above. Very sadly, Fuji Bank lost 21 people in 2 WTC, including 12 senior managers. This tragic day brought pain, sorrow and loss to so many families.
For me personally, September 11, 2001 was a lucky day.  Were it not for the flood in my apartment the night before, I would have been at my desk by about 8 am that day. Members of my staff who were at their desks in 2 WTC when the first plane hit 1 WTC (8:46 am) escaped safely by descending stairs from the 82nd floor. Who knows whether I would have been so fortunate.
     Since that day, my goals have been to make the most out of every day and don't postpone happiness!

Post aside: After the fact, my staff (who escaped) told me that they had made it down to the 44nd floor sky-lobby from the 82nd floor in 2 WTC when the (second) plane hit that building about 40 stories above them. Upon impact, they told of the building seemingly moving, first up and down and then side to side to the point where people were being knocked over.

From Jon Salony: There was no warning.  I awoke in my hi-rise apartment in Manhattan on Tuesday to a spectacularly beautiful, brisk morning with a blazing sun straining to break apart the curtains.  A perfect, pre-autumn day was brewing.
     I had just voted in the local primaries and was exiting the subway, walking towards my office at 380 Madison on 47th street enjoying the amazing weather.  Approaching the building, I noticed that everyone seemed to be on a cell phone.  At the street-level Chase Consumer Bank branch on the Madison Avenue side of the headquarters, I got a chilling first view of the unfolding tragedy on TV.  A small crowd had gathered on the sidewalk peering in to the monitors tuned to the Today Show.  Tip-toeing over the crowd, I got my first view of a smoking, gaping hole in the side of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  It was surreal, and I looked on in disbelief.  When I reached my office, everyone in my unit, the Chase Community Development Group, was talking in small groups and straining to get news on portable radios.  When the second building was hit, virtually all work stopped and people started calling loved ones to make hurried arrangements to get home.  Calls on cell phones, because of the traffic, were dropped, but land lines worked throughout the day.  Auto and rail transportation in and out of Manhattan was suspended.  It would not resume until a few hours later.  Living 30 blocks uptown, I offered to bunk anyone in our group who found themselves stranded.  My fiance, Meg, was in Europe travelling on business.  We both had apartments in the same building so it would be convenient for anyone who could not get home to their families.
     The scene playing out on Madison Avenue was extraordinary.  From about 10 am to 3 pm, the streets were jammed with cars trying to get out of the City, all heading north like a mid-summer Friday afternoon.  From about noon on, the streets were dominated by waves of office workers and residents evacuating from downtown.  Many were exhausted from the walk and the stress, others were covered with soot and dirt, some had torn clothing and missing a jacket or purse, all looked stunned.  Most were not sure where they would go next, they just needed to get away from where they had been.  Then at around 4:00pm, the streets suddenly became very quiet, like a Sunday morning.  Our office was now largely empty, and I started to walk home alone around 5pm.  Most retailers on Madison had closed early.  Many merchants had placed small American flags on display in windows.  Some of the high-end boutiques in the 60's had removed all of their apparel and jewelry displays and replaced them with expressions of sympathy and floral arrangements.
     As I approached Lenox Hill Hospital, I expected to see a lot of activity.  The 77th Street entrance was closed to all but emergency traffic.  Doctors and nurses nervously stood guard outside and the street was scattered with empty gurneys and emergency equipment.  The silence was eerie.  No ambulances or emergency vehicles were arriving.  When I got home, I turned on the TV and watched the news unfold on national television, staring in disbelief and watching it replay again and again on all the broadcast stations and CNN.  I don't recall eating dinner, and drifted off to sleep sometime after midnight.
     It soon became apparent that firemen, police and emergency workers from around the region had suffered a terrible loss of life carrying out their heroic duties.  On Wednesday, I dropped by my local firehouse and brought over some baked goods for the firemen.  The firehouse was open and growing with bouquets of flowers, letters, and condolence notes.  It was a gloomy experience.  Firemen on duty were gracious and thankful, but were as stunned as I was.  Later I would learn that almost all the firehouses in Manhattan suffered fatalities.
     Before the days of BlackBerries, it would be another couple of days before I could reach my fiance.  When I did, I learned that the citizens of Paris and London were incredibly helpful to visiting Americans and reached out to them if they needed help.  In London, Meg's taxi rides around town became free when she identified herself as a U.S. citizen.  She visited Buckingham Palace and signed the condolence book that was subsequently delivered to the Queen.  Due back from the United States the next day, she gave up her reservation to a 9/11 family member desperate to get back to New York.
     The next few days were very unsettling.  I could not tear myself away from the news.  Focusing on work was a real challenge.  Most everyone was more interested in pulling together and helping out someone needing assistance.  American flags were propping up everywhere, in storefronts, lapels, chalked on the sidewalk, and in neon signage in Times Square.  I thought it might be months before things would return to normal.  I did not know that life as I knew it then would be forever changed.

From Ed Tan:  Took off from La Guardia on a flight around 6:30 am on 9/11 and landed in Cincinnati, OH around 8 am to rendezvous with some Moody’s colleagues for an annual credit review on Ashland Inc.  It was the most disconcerting and perplexing review session I ever experienced, with the CEO interrupting the discussions every 30 minutes giving updates on the fires and destruction of the Twin Towers, first the North Tower, then the South Tower of the WTC and then fires in the Pentagon in DC.
    Needless to say, we were stranded in Cincinnati for several days, waiting for a rental car to materialize as all airports were closed across the country for about a week.  No natural disaster has ever accomplished this before.  I was not able to call home to Brooklyn as the Verizon telephone controls for lower Manhattan were located in 7WTC and in its infinite wisdom, New York City had located its emergency diesel fuel tanks in the basement of that building which ignited and blew out the telephone switches for lower Manhattan and Brooklyn for several days.
    When we finally got an Avis rental car, we drove through Pennsylvania from Ohio which was full of tunnels burrowed in hills and mountains throughout the state.  One pleasant discovery was that Dairy Queens in that part of the country served excellent hamburgers that even rivaled the Double Whoppers of Burger King!