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Queens Chronicle

Essay: Witnessing the Twin Towers fall on Sept. 11

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Posted: Monday, September 11, 2017 3:34 pm

The anniversary of Sept. 11 is upon us again. 

For many, the 9/11 of 2001 is fast becoming a distant memory; for many more it can’t even be a memory at all, much like “Remember the Maine” or “Remember the Alamo” can only have a remote meaning. But for many including myself, one who does not enjoy having an especially good memory in general, I can never forget the day I witnessed from my office window the World Trade Center Towers go down. 

The architectural office of Davis Brody Bond, then located on the top floors of 315 Hudson St. at Spring Street, had a direct view from about one mile away straight north of the Towers. Upon reaching the ninth floor that morning, I overheard one of the partners on the phone, calling to report that there looked to be a fire partway up one of the towers; no one at that point knew the true nature of what was happening. 

It was a rare day that I did not have my camera, but this was one, so I headed back down to the street and bought a throw-away camera at a nearby convenience store. By the time I got back into the office, the second plane had hit the other Tower. Now at least we recognized that this was no accident; we were under attack. 

We all stood at the windows staring at the scene before us. I also walked to the other side of the office floor where the Empire State Building was visible — I wrongly assumed that if anyone was going to attack New York City, that would also be a target. Facing south again, I took some photos while watching in disbelief. 

The Towers fell. 

Later, we were told to go home and I walked the seven miles across the Williamsburg Bridge to Queens. When I arrived at the intersection of 69th Street and Grand Avenue in Maspeth, I looked back at the city skyline across the Long Island Expressway; I could see a tower of smoke, all that was left of World Trade, and I took a final photograph, walking the remaining several blocks home.

So tonight, I am once again attending the vigil at Juniper Valley Park to remember that terrible day. More first responders from Maspeth Squad 288 and Hazmat 1 than from any other firehouse lost their lives trying to save others that day: 19 heroes. So please remember. 

Steve Fisher is a retired architect, photography enthusiast and Queens Chronicle contributor who lives in Middle Village.

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