(looking up at the sky being scraped by the World Trade Center towers)
Before

(just the sky)
After

(street scene covered in dust and papers)
Chase Plaza

(dusty, smoky, empty Wall Street)
An Empty Wall Street

emails from Lower Manhattan, 9/11


On that day, many people died; many more were merely inconvenienced. I was one of the latter, as were the vast majority of New Yorkers.

These notes might give you a little different perspective on what it was like to be there... trauma without the drama.

I was genuinely impressed by how New Yorkers, brash by reputation, showed another side -- resilient, humane, and understated, gracefully and respectfully standing up again, shaking off the dust without just brushing it away...


From: Dan Holle
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 1:43 PM EDT
To: Jacquetta; Ben; Robyn
Subject: All is well.

Hello...

Well, I managed to get out of the AIG offices over here to the hotel. It would appear that I will be holed up here for a while. Phone service is spotty... I have tried to call England a number of times without success. I tried calling Illinois in hopes of getting a message to you, also without success. So now I'm trying email.

I'm fine. The streets are a mess... about an inch of fine dust on the ground. The air is thick with dust and fumes and people are walking down the middle of the streets with cloth covering their faces to filter the air.

=============

This morning, I was walking up Pine Street shortly after the first plane hit... there were papers flying through the air, mostly blue sky but some smoke high in the air. Light debris was falling and we were flicking it off our shoulders... somebody said it was a plane crashing into the World Trade Center... didn't really take it seriously.

When the second plane hit I was on the 14th floor of a skyscraper quite close to the Trade Center. There was a skyscraper between us and the WTC. When the plane hit a huge fireball was visible bursting around both sides of the skyscraper in front of us. When one of the towers collapsed, a huge wall of smoke, hundreds of feet high, surged through the streets all around us. Several people who had "gone out for a cup of coffee" (and maybe gawk) stumbled back in, covered in dust and in some cases bloody because of being hit by flying debris.

Since coming here to New York I've been to the WTC quite a few times... there was a great bookstore there which opens at 7AM, so I have been going there to browse and have a Latte in the morning. This morning, though, I had a breakfast meeting at the hotel with a guy named Phil... I thanked Phil for setting up that meeting. Right now, Phil is walking up Manhattan Island to his daughter's on the upper east side... maybe 10 mile walk as the public transportation here in New York is shut down.

==============

I'm going to go downstairs now to check on some things... it's all over now and you don't need to worry... a rather extraordinary day.



From: Dan
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 4:11 PM EDT
Subject: NYC

I'm sticking close to the hotel. The Plaza and Wall Street are both a half a block from the hotel. The police are all over the place.

The downtown area is pretty well deserted. The air is noxious and smoky, people still wearing gas masks 7 hours after the planes hit. An inch of fine grey dust, and partially burned office documents, are everywhere.

I'm fine. The excitement is over, the mess is not.



From: Dan Holle
Subject: Pictures from NYC: Saturday
Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 7:09:13 PM EDT
 
Greets from NYC...
 
I have a few pictures that might be of interest, following onto the first batch I sent a few days back.

On Tuesday I managed to get back to the hotel around 1PM, after it was apparent that the unexpected wave of immigration had subsided. I thought I'd be holed up there for a while... but then, at about 4PM, power was cut off, so I went downstairs to check things out.

The hotel staff still seemed to think it was wise to stay put, but they also said there was no food at the hotel. I ventured out to a darkened Wall Street to forage for food (a strange statement to make).

When I got back to the hotel, it had been evacuated. So I took the stuff I was carrying (including the Pop Tarts and breakfast bars I managed to find in a candlelit shop on Water Street) and hiked up to midtown Manhattan, some 5 miles away. A group of folks, in a similar bind, walked together for security.

Downtown, as you can see, it was pretty gritty, since the wind pulled much of the debris from the attack out this way. But the debris area was pretty limited... after Chinatown it was pretty clear.

I was finally able to get back to my hotel on Saturday morning. The subway was running down to Brooklyn Bridge, where they sent me north (away from my hotel) telling me to head around down Pearl and Water Streets to get to my hotel. There were cops and National Guard everywhere turning people back. Following a circuitous route, I finally reached the hotel, three blocks east and one block south of the World Trade Center.

When I got to the place... reps of the hotel wearing overalls and American Flag bandanas... not like the sharp suits and shiny nametags a few days ago. Flashlights up the stairs... long walk up... and found my things were exactly as I'd left them Tuesday when the power went out, including these shoes still dusty from the short walk from AIG to the hotel.

What happens if the donut shop is closed in Lower Manhattan? Well, you can always stand smack dab in the middle of Wall Street and talk about dem Mets.

Having heard that the relatively nearby Bowling Green Subway Station was now open, I headed south across Wall Street.

The whole area had been largely cleared up since Tuesday. Dust and scattered paper had been swept and hosed away.

On Saturday, a lot of people were still wearing gas masks and face masks. Probably overkill... although there was a bit of smoke high above us still drifting in from the disaster site, at ground level it was really nothing in comparison with the thick smoke that filled the streets on Tuesday.

There had been some speculation that this smoke was dangerous (maybe containing asbestos, or other noxious materials) but it was really no more dangerous than heavy campfire smoke (phew).

There were cops and National Guard all over the place. They looked like they felt out of place.

I think this cop is dyin' to write a parking ticket for that lone car out there.

That National Guardsman was probably feeling that camouflage, in lower Manhattan, had the opposite effect of what it was designed to do.

Behind them, the New York Stock Exchange got ready to fire up again on Monday.

Down Exchange Street, this handwritten sign still was taped to a window of the marble lobby of a large skyscraper:

"BUILDING IS EVACUATED -- Head Towards Water Street. Thanks."

There are still 5000 people missing... and around the city you'll find notices like these... pictures of friends and family... pleading to pass on any information...

These notices are everywhere... on mailboxes, streetlights, on parking meters and buildings. Statistics, by comparison, are relatively easy to take. These notices are really awful to read. They're poignant and personal... revealing something about the person being sought...

Sadly, I think there will be very few miraculous reunions from here on in. When a hundred story building collapses, I don't think there's very many places for a survivor to hide.

Bowling Green is a few blocks south of the World Trade Center... here's a picture I took a week before the tragedy, and a picture I took yesterday as I went to the Bowling Green station.

The National Guard guys don't look like they are likely to get casual visitors in the area.

Here's a picture of the towers on the day I arrived from England, one week before they were destroyed. With this as background, a couple stories...

This morning, as I walked around Manhattan, there were flags everywhere. Window displays on 5th Avenue suddenly had small flags in suit pockets and in the hands of the mannequins. At one point, a team of about 50 inline skaters roared down Broadway at high speed, carrying large flags fluttering as they sped past.

There are already T-shirts on sale with slogans like "Nuke The Bastards", etc.

On Friday, after a long meeting in an office here in the Midtown area, I wandered west in search of a different place for dinner... turns out Times Square is closer than I thought... I got there right around 7PM, when they had a candlelight vigil... somebody handed me a candle, everyone started singing... Typically, some people were joking around... some were crying... there were jets flying over... after all, the President was in town... New Yorkers looked up in surprise, and a touch of apprehension, with the sound of planes.

Among the candle carrying folks, I met a group of people from JP Morgan. There were lots of JP Morgan people in the World Trade Center. I chatted with one of these folks who used to work on the 87th floor. Needless to say, he was relieved to work midtown now. He pointed to somebody who'd lost a boyfriend... somebody else who'd lost a brother... pretty well everybody was missing one or more friends.
 


 
I've managed to get confirmed flight booking... but on Friday, a week later than I'd planned. So I'll be working out of the Arthur Andersen office in midtown Manhattan this week.

--dan.   [an error occurred while processing this directive]