Though a resident of Tampa Florida, I had traveled to NYC to attend a conference on 9/10/11.
I had stayed at the Double Tree in Times Square, as the conference was in Times Square.
On the morning of 9/11/01, I too, as so many have mentioned, vividly recall how beautiful the sky and weather were this morning. I can still remember how vividly blue and clear the sky was as I walked to the conference.
The conference commenced at 08:00 with breakfast and an opening introduction.
At about 08:50 I received a call from my wife in Tampa. I took the call in the conference and she informed me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. As I was in the conference, I was not that concerned as, in my mind I assumed that it was a small plane and an unfortunate accident. She was adamant that I get to a TV to see this. I stepped out of the conference, which was attended by my estimate was about 400 +/- people.
I went out to the lobby of the hotel and saw many people looking at a TV in the lobby bar. When I could see he live TV shot, it was obvious that this was more than I originally thought. It was also at this time I witnessed the 09:03 striking of the second tower by the second plane. At this point it was very clear these were not accidents. A lasting me wort for me was when I left the tv to return to the conference room to gather my things and leave, their was no one left in the conference room.
As I walked across Times Square back to my hotel I remember the look on people’s faces, a blank stare pretty much.
I spent the day in the hotel room, looking out my window which faced south. The view of the smoke coming from the towers was quite prominent. In looking down at the street I remember seeing the people, all walking north. So looking very disheveled, I can only assume some had walked up from the Trade Center as they looked like they had dust and dirt on white shirts, jackets off, some people walking barefoot in business clothes.
As all air traffic had stopped, tunnels and bridges closed and trains stopped, I stayed in NYC Times Square for the evening. I remember leaving the hotel just to get outside around 6:00 PM and remembering how empty Times Square was, except for Police and National Guard. I can remember hand a written sign in a theater saying “the performance was canceled due to the tragedy that occurred today”. I can also remember seeing military jets flying over the city, something that was just hard to imagine. I spent the evening back in the hotel, watching TV, talking to my wife and trying to get a ticket on Amtrak to get to Philadelphia. I managed to get one of the first trains out of NYC when they resumed the next day. I can remember the presence of police and military at Penn Station, the quietness of the station, which usually is very loud. I can also remember when the train cleared the hudson tube and looking out the window back at Manhattan from the Jersey Meadowlands and seeing the smoke still coming from lower Manhattan. I have not shared this level of detail in 15 years. Though not at ground zero, this has left an emotional scare that has still not healed.