Only 11 blocks away…

Date Submitted: 02/06/2003
Author Info: Greg (New York, NY - USA) 
Occupation: Graphic Design
Lived in NY on 9.11.01?: Yes
Knew someone who perished?: No

I had just finished voting that Tuesday morning on September 11th, it was around 9AM, and I was now on my way to work in mid-town. I live in “Little Italy” in Manhattan, and the voting center was a block away from my apartment. As I was walking toward the subway on Canal Street, I noticed many people in the street stopped and looking up. That is when I first saw one of the tower on fire, and giving off a dark gray cloud of smoke, which blew toward the East into Brooklyn. I took out my digital camera and took some pictures, then I ran back to my apartment to see what was going on in the news. I also went up to my roof to see what I could see from there. I brought my 35mm camera to take some shots with that camera. I would go back and forth from my apartment, and then to the roof to see, in reality, what was happen. When the Pentagon was hit, my neighbor said it was surely a terrorist attack, and she was staying home from work, I decided to do so too. I was trying to call my family and friends, to talk check in, but it was extremely hard to get through to anyone. I woke up my brother in LA, and told him what was happening, and at this time the south tower (I believe) collapsed, and we were disconnected instantly. While all this was happening, right outside my window, there were men setting up for the annual “San Gennaro Feast” that happens on my street every year. I thought, “don’t they know what’s happening, why are they still setting up?” They just kept working away, building the stands for the games and food (the feast was to start on that Thursday, but was cancelled after all – it was going to be the 75th anniversary of the festival). It was all very surreal.

For the next three days, I barely left my apartment, except to get cash or stock up on water and food. My whole neighborhood was a ghost town, or as I thought at the time, a war ghetto. In the 7 or so years that I have lived there, I have never seen it so empty and quiet. The police were letting no one below Canal Street, and to the North, you couldn’t get into my neighborhood without an ID that proved you lived there. The situation was an beyond belief. I didn’t know of anyone personally who died that day, but over the next few weeks, I found out that many of my friends and co-workers knew some of the victims and I heard of a lot of stories of people who were in the towers (or near) and had escaped. Being a photographer and graphic designer, I have put together books of the photos I have taken of 9/11 and the memorials and life afterwards in New York. If possible I would like to get them published. As for the future, I try to strengthen my faith that PEACE IS NEXT, and that it is just a matter of time.


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