Bearing Witness to History... a personal eyewitness account



It was approximately 8:50 AM, on a spectacular picture perfect New York City September morning, as I ascended the steps of the Canal Street subway station in lower Manhattan. It was then that I noticed a crowd of spectators all pointing skyward... southward towards Manhattan's tip. Then I saw it. Thick black smoke and flames emanating from the top floors of one of the twin towers.

"I think a plane hit the building," commented one of the bystanders. I thought to myself, could this be possible on such a crystal clear day? My next thoughts were, how are the firemen ever going to get to reach those trapped in this inferno? As I gaped in awe, I saw it happen. Another plane smashed into the second tower emitting a gigantic fire ball and explosion. Is this really happening? Is this some sort of special effect Hollywood production I'm seeing?

Next I ran to my office at 100 Sixth Avenue, four blocks north of the Canal Street station, where being an advertising agency art director, and photography being my avocation, I keep a camera at my desk. I grabbed the camera, raced outside my building and started documenting the devastation on film. With my telephoto lens I was able to zoom in on the flaming towers. Then the screaming directly behind me began. "They're jumping, oh my God, they're jumping from windows!" I turned around and began focusing my camera on the horrified expressions of the onlookers witnessing the calamity.

I was transfixed to the spot when I next saw one of the towers begin to buckle. It was as if some enormous invisible hand was pressing downward, crumbling the building with its sheer power. In mere seconds, in an awesome cloud of pulverizing smoke, suddenly there was no more World Trade Center. I was witnessing the impossible!

I was able to capture these terrible few moments on film with quick succession photos. And in the midst of this chaos, the police sirens and fire truck horns shrieked, madly heading downtown into the inferno.