A view from the Manhattan Bridge..

Date Submitted: 04/09/2002
Author Info: Brian (Brooklyn, NY - USA) 
Occupation: Professional (Medical, legal, etc.)
Lived in NY on 9.11.01?: Yes
Knew someone who perished?: Yes

I live in Brooklyn, work in Manhattan (Chrysler Building 42nd St.). Every morning I take the subway over the Manhattan Bridge into the city. For those who do not know the city the Manhattan Bridge runs parallel to the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River. Every morning I was treated to a magnificent view of the twin towers which hovered majestically over all other buildings in the area and I estimate maybe 300-400 yards from the bridge…I saw them through so many different stages…when the rain and fog were so thick u couldn’t see the top of them, at night when it seemed they lit up the entire city, and of course on days like 9/11 when they glistened in a sunshine kiss. The morning of the 11th i was sitting with my head phones on listening to (I know this is going to sound like bull but I swear its true) Superman by Five for Fighting…

Just as we are about to enter the tunnel which leads to the bridge I hear the conductors voice saying something but figure he is just explaining why we aren’t moving. But I’m puzzled by the looks on the faces of my fellow riders who heard the announcement and notice that they are beginning to murmur amongst themselves… I continue to ignore it as usual but when he comes back on two minutes. later I turn down the volume in time to hear him say “….a fire at the twin towers”…..It probably should have caught my attention but didn’t, since as new Yorkers u kind of get used to things like those words all the time as there are always fires in the tunnels and buildings that cause minor delays and such so……

As we pull onto the bridge from the tunnel, once again the conductor comes on and I hear the entire announcement… “Ladies and gentleman we have a request from the police department that all citizens are to please stay away from the twin towers for a plan has crashed into one of the towers and it is now on fire…Now again right away my line of thinking was it was a helicopter or small tourist plane that lost control and crashed into the towers and bounced off…..I honestly believe that the inherent cynicism of living in this city, from years of having seen and heard just about all there is to see with crime , drugs, sex scandals etc. We kind of become immune to the potential seriousness of situations that we just generally accept as “that’s the way it is in the city”… Anyways…I was sitting in the second to last car of the subway and my view of the towers was obstructed by the location of my seat, as we pulled onto the bridge Im curious to see what is going on, but not so much so that I’m willing to lose my seat(which goes to show how serious I think it is)suddenly though I’m alarmed by the looks on the faces of my fellow passengers…I get up and cross to the other side and see a large mass of black smoke engulfing the upper part of the tower. It appeared from this angle that whatever hit the tower had bounced off and left fuel burning on the eastern facade of the building.

I stood there feeling bad about whoever was in the plane or helicopter, but not feeling anything ominous… THEN… I see it… It was almost like slow motion but it was moving so fast… So low… You didn’t have time to gasp… It hit the second tower and disappeared, and suddenly the biggest fireball I have ever seen in my life just shoots wide and high into an ocean blue sky… Whoever wasn’t stunned on the train suddenly screamed as everyone ran to the windows… Now we were stuck on the bridge watching this unfold before our eyes realizing we are under attack…suddenly a woman screams and slides down a pole in the middle of our train car…”My god were next!!!!…. get us off this bridge….a burly fellow starts banging on the Plexiglas windows “You get this fucking train off the bridge…everyone is either crying screaming or just staring in stunned silence… I’m just looking around ….at the woman…man…the towers… the sky to see if another plane is coming and feeling very vulnerable….300 feet above the east River…Finally the train begins its ascent into the Canal Street station. Just before it enters the tunnel again we stop…stuck…and again we gasp as we now are facing the north facade of tower 1 and can see the huge hole where the first plane hit…Then as if things couldn’t get worse….we can now make out the outline of people jumping from the tower against the backdrop of that beautiful sky……As we pulled into the station my first impulse was just to get off and go home because I knew all bridges would now be shut down and I’d be stuck in the city…BUT…my wife who was five mos. pregnant was in the city uptown and at this point I have no idea what’s next but I know that panic has set in and I can hear sirens rushing by and people running in every direction…I didn’t know if she had any idea what happened and so I rushed to get to my job so I could call her and tell her to get out of her building which is on Broadway…..

Finally I reach her and we end up having to walk from one side of the city to the other trying to get back home ( all told we walked approximately 40 miles while she in 80 degree weather with the fear of another attack and the never forget sight and sound of F-14s flying above our heads…I had seen what I believed to be just the partial collapse of the south tower on tv in our office at work before I could reach my wife…when we finally reached Brooklyn 8 hours later (it normally takes about 45 minutes). I looked towards Manhattan and said “man the smoke is so thick I cant see the towers anymore…she sad Hon…they’re gone…they collapsed…i said no just partially…she said…no both completely collapsed… In two days it will be seven months since that day, not a day has gone by I don’t think about it… In fact it has consumed a great portion of my life…. I’ve been to ground Zero a half dozen times since, trying to grasp everything… My wife is worried about me and insists I show signs of Post traumatic stress syndrome, I don’t disagree, but I don’t really feel right feeling like something so bad happened to me when I read, see , hear about all the awful stories other people have had to endure that greatly exceeds whatever minor syndrome I may have incurred… I just know I will never be the same again and i will never ever forget that day for as long as I live…

By the way… My wife gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy on January 25th… Someday I hope to God I will be able to tell him what happened that infamous day when I saw history recorded with my own eyes. I just hope he doesn’t ask me why it happened… because I shall not have an answer……..


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