September 11th, 2001 as seen from the 31st floor of One New York Plaza, NYC, NY.

By Jason B Consorti

  Just when the first plane hit and we had no idea what was causing the smoke. Mike Cirri, at my urging, snapped photos with our department's digital camera that just happened to be sitting on his desk. We figured it might have been a bomb or a boiler. I reasoned to Mike: "How often are we going to see the Trade Center burn? Take some shots!" I didn't realize how macabre this would all turn out.

  At this point, I believe we heard on the news that it was an airplane, but what kind we did not know. It seemed to us it had to be a small GA plane. I turned to Mike and said, "If it's not a small place, we're (screwed)."


Here, I think we knew that it was a big plane. had the picture of the hole in 1 WTC (from our view, only 2 WTC could be seen). It didn't dawn on us to flee yet. We were now getting phone calls from collegues and friends from all over that they were witnessing terrible things. The descriptions were too horric to comprehend. The words were there, but we just didn't want to believe them. 

This was about 3-5 minutes after the second plane hit. The plane flew right in front of our eyes and slammed into the tower at nearly eye level. I was in my boss' office while he was on the phone with his mother. I don't know if it was the heat from the explosion or my nervs, but I felt warmth on my skin. The explosion shook the building. The sound was terrifying. Needless to say many folks screamed and there was a general cloud of confusion and even some panic. I kept trying to reassure others by exclaiming "we're not the target!" in my own fit of panic. In reality, I thought it was raining airplanes, I didn't think I was going to get out of the building alive. I called my mother and told her I was getting out. I really was telling her good-bye. I called home and left a message for my wife telling her I loved her. I knew survival meant my immediate escape, but I thought it was raining airplanes and was certain death was near.

  At this point most everyone ran out of our building. Mike stayed to get management talking about emergency plans. Our position on the end of the island made a tempting target for any other planes coming in from the south.


  Those of us in Engineering that stuck together and made our way to the South Street Seaport. I had often thought of what to do in just such a scenario and explained to everyone: "I can swim, so I'm going for the ferry rather than taking my chances on a bridge or tunnel." My boss suggested the ferry he takes in the morning. On the way to the ferry, we were showered with debris: mostly paper. While waiting for the ferry, we met several people who worked in the towers. O ne fellow still had his trading jacket on and explained he was on the 80-somethi ng floor of the south tower. During his evacuation after the first plane hit, someone on the PA told everyone to go back to their office. This trader ignored him. Now, on the docks, he wanted so much to punch him in the mouth. On the gangway to the ferry, the bastards from the ferry wouldn't let you on board without a ticket. We had to PAY TO ESCAPE.

  This is after the collapse of 1 WTC. 2 WTC had collapsed as our ferry pulled away from the dock. The whole boat erupted and tilted to the side as everyone rushed to watch it go down. I was on the phone with the first person I could reach: my sister. The captain frantically urged everyone to even out on the boat as it was tilting badly. Afterward, I had gotten in touch with my friend Walt in CA, waking him and his wife up and telling them I was alive. They were asleep and thought it was strange that I would deliver this news to them. I told them to turn on the news. Later, we were too far away to see 1 WTC go down, but from the TV on the ferry and from folks with portabale radios we knew when it went. We also knew that the Pentagon was hit and had heard that the state department had been hit (which turned out to be not true). Everyone talked of war. We ended up in the Atlantic Highlands in Jersey and stayed at my boss' place in Rumson. At his place we watched TV news, and I drank 18 year-old scotch until I was as physically numb as I was emotionally numb. We watched the President give a quick speech live. We tried calling everyone we could to tell them we were alive.

This is the 6 inches of concrete dust layered on Broad and Water streets.

This is the view from Jersey City, a couple hours later. Mike had taken this photo after taking a tugboat ride from Battery Park. He didn't have to pay. I eventually was picked up from Rumson by my friend Steve at about 3pm. He dropped several other people off before taking me home. I met Jean on the front lawn of my house in Middlesex and finally allowed myself to emotionally succumb to the reality of what I just went through. She already had scotch waiting for me.

President Bush makes his visit on Friday the 14th. The Wall St. Heliport is located right behind One New York Plaza. Whenever a President comes, the place is teeming with armed men. On this day, there was a phalanx of motorcycle cops and an army of secret service agents. Mike and I had returned to the building in the early afternoon. We braved 4 or 5 military and police checkpoints to get to the building from Canal St. Suprisingly, we never lost power at One New York Plaza for any real length of time. Most communications were down, but we still had a working Internet connection and some other leased lines.