On the train, I always keep an eye out for the Chambers Street Station—the World Trade Center stop—since my stop is the one after it.
I got off with about 20 other people hitting the stairs in front of me…People were shouting at us: Get out of the station! Get off the trains! There's been a terrorist attack! Two planes crashed into the World Trade Centers!
As I got closer to the stairwell, I could smell it. Smoke can smell all sorts of ways. This was the sort of smell that told you something was seriously wrong ... an acrid, sharp odor.
I stepped onto the sidewalk and turned west. Huge plumes of smoke were billowing out of the North Tower of the Trade Center…The flames and the smoke spoke volumes.
I pulled out my new cell phone and found out just how impossible it is to get a network connection when tens of thousands of people in the same ten square block area are trying to make a call.
I looked back at the North Tower, then remembered the shouting about both towers being hit. I had to move half a block to see the South Tower. From the ground, or looking at the pictures I was taking on my camera's LCD screen, I really couldn't see just how much damage had been done. Time seemed to stop as well all just stood there and watched as the wind pulled two enormous columns of smoke out flat and to the east.
It was a little after 9:30AM. I still couldn't get a signal on my phone, so I started walking away from the area …That stupid new cell phone of mine saved me a load of grief—without my hunt for a network connection, I probably would have been standing at Fulton and Broadway, snapping pictures, when 2 WTC collapsed. Footage of that corner after the buildings fell showed the area coated in white, with chunks of debris everywhere.