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When the First Tower Collapsed

I was outside on the roof of a 50-story office building in midtown Manhattan looking downtown at the two World Trade Center towers on fire when the first one collapsed. It was terrifying — with the fear only compounded by being outside on the roof of a skyscraper.

The scramble to get back inside is still a blur. But once off the roof we were faced with a decision to exit the building: Should we take the elevator or the stairs? I was worried the power might go out and ran down 50 flights of stairs as fast as I could. That still seems like a sensible decision.

Once on the street, I headed north. The streets of Manhattan were filling with traffic and cell phones didn’t work. We didn’t really know what had happened. There was talk of a bomb going off at the base of the Twin Towers but mostly everyone was fleeing north.

But when I reached Central Park, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I walk through the park or around the edge of it? It seemed like the most important decision in the world. I chose to walk around the park but all these years later I still don’t understand why it mattered at the time.

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