The View from the Top of the World

This being September 11, I could not bring myself to write a blog post about teen crushes. I just couldn't.

I grew up on Long Island in the suburbs of New York City, and I was living in northern New Jersey in 2001. The World Trade Center was part of my skyline, part of my growing up, part of my life.

When I was a child, we went to see the massive holes in the ground where, someday, my dad promised, giant towers would rise.

When the towers were finished, we rode the super-fast, queasiness-inducing elevators to the top of Tower 2 and went out onto the observation deck and it was like you owned all of New York City -- not just Manhattan, but Brooklyn and Queens, Staten Island and Ellis Island and the Bronx, and all of the water and the ships and planes too. You could feel the gentle sway of the tower beneath you if it was at all windy -- and when you're up that high, it's often windy. You tell yourself that the engineers planned for this, that the suppleness of the building's spine is necessary, but it's still unnerving. It still sends a shiver of not-quite-fear through you.

In 1986, my friend Julie, right, visited from England and we took her to the top of the world. Literally.
That's the Statue of Liberty in the center of the photo.

You weren't supposed to, but at the inside observatory, I used to step right up next to the windows and look straight down. I can still feel the sickly swoop of my belly as the world dropped out from under my feet. Dark swift cars and bright yellow taxis the size of Matchbox toys flowed silently along the blacktop far below. They might have been in a movie; they were that disconnected from my reality.

Inside Two World Trade Center, as it was properly called, looking toward Brooklyn.
See that bar? I used to sneak under that to press up against the glass and look down. 

My brother worked in Tower 1 for several years, and was there in 1993 when terrorists made their first attempt to destroy it by blowing up a van parked underneath. Still, I don't think any of us ever believed that these monuments to ingenuity and prosperity could fall.

And yet, they did.


  1. Wow. I was half a country away when the towers fell. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I can't imagine how it must have felt to you.

  2. Thank you for this! I watched the towers fall from across the bay in Long Beach and will never forget that day. The tribute lights made me cry all over again last night.

  3. There are two moments during which most people can tell you exactly where they were. One was JFK's assassination, the other this horrible one.

  4. I watched on TV with my 1st born (7months old) not knowing where my hubby was working in the city that day and we didn't have cell phones. Thankfully he was in Jersey City but I'll never forget that day. <3

  5. I felt like the whole world was collapsing that day. I rushed home from work to be with my two boys. My husband was traveling by plane that day and I panicked until I heard from him, and then prayed for the rest of the world...


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