I was in 10th grade at Humanities High School on 18th street in Manhattan, just 2 or 3 miles north of WTC.
Oddly, the day started normally and nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I got to my 2nd period science class. My first hint that something was not right was that my teacher was unusually late.
When the teacher finally showed up, she walked in with her hand over her forehead and said something like “this is unbelievable”. I asked her what was wrong and everyone in class gave me this confused look like I was stupid. My teacher said “you haven’t heard?! A plane crashed into the world trade center”.
My first thought was “oh crap, how could that happen?” but even then I didn’t really know what to make of it. For the rest of the period everyone just talked about it. One student said it was just a helicopter, not an airplane.
After that class I began to realize that something serious was happening. I remember seeing a girl crying in the hallway in between classes and the Principal came on the loudspeaker saying that students with family member who work in WTC should report to the library. Someone told me if you go up to the 7th floor (the gym) you could see the smoke from WTC.
For the rest of the day we didnt learn anything everyone was just talking about what happened. I only learned fragments of truth from all the rumors going around. Some people said both towers got hit by planes, some people said the towers fell, others said only one tower fell, and I even heard that only the top piece of the tower fell.
By the time my dad picked me up, the school was a ghost town. Most students had been picked up by parents much earlier in the day. The trains and buses were not running so my dad had to walk all the way to 18th street from the upper east side. When I got outside the sirens were deafening and there was obvious chaos in the streets.
The moment of truth for me was when we starting walking cross town, when we got to 8th avenue. The WTC was always visible looking down 8th avenue but when I looked, my heart sank: all I could see was what looked like the bottom of one of the towers sticking up with smoke pouring out of it. I was in complete shock that the towers were not there.
We trekked uptown, and rumors continued. I remember we passed a building with people standing outside saying there was a shooting on the Brooklyn bridge and the cops found a truck bomb.