The World Trade Center's (WTC's) twin towers before the
attacks of Tuesday, 11 September 2001.
The North Tower (left; radio/TV broadcast mast on top) had
the street address 1 WTC
and is often referred to as Tower 1.
The North Tower (left) was hit by a plane flying in from the left
(coming out of the north to hit the north face);
The South Tower (right) was hit by a plane flying from right to left to
hit the south face visible in photo.
Both planes flew down the Hudson River (foreground) from the left, and
banked into the towers.
For the South Tower, this was a dramatic 180 deg, low-altitude turn.
Someone at the FAA places the first FAA call to the Northeast
Air Defense Sector of NORAD. The following exchange takes place:
FAA: Hi. Boston Center TMU, we have a problem here. We have a hijacked
aircraft headed towards New York, and we need you guys to, we need
someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there, help us out.
NORAD: Is this real-world or exercise?
FAA: No, this is not an exercise, not a test.
8:46:26: Impact of AA Flight 11.
JIN: These six minutes of advance notification that Flight 11 had been
hijacked prior to its destruction of the World Trade Center North Tower
was the most time that NORAD had to respond to any of the
four hijacked flights.
Counting only the F-15 Eagle, the F-16 Falcon and the F-18 Hornet, we
had over 1,500 fighter jets in active service, at a construction cost
of over $45 billion. Not a single one intercepted a
single hijacked flight. Today we have ca 600 more
F-18s, and the new F-22 Raptor is flying (another $25B).
In what way do these thousands of planes defend me?
They never learned how to land in flight school.
The outline of American Airlines AA11 in the north face of the North
Tower (WTC 1),
spanning floors 93 to 98.
seismographs at the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory record the impact of American Airlines flight 11.
At about 466 mph (recent calculations put the figure higher),
the Boeing 767's
aluminum fuselage shreds and the two steel alloy engines hurtle across
the tower. Flight 11
was fueled for a Boston to LA flight when it took off 47 minutes
earlier. A 767-223ER weighs ca 300,000 pounds when 95%
The tower sways for many seconds, but stands.
A rare photo of the first Tower being struck.
Jules and Gedeon Naudet were doing on-location filming when they heard a
much too low and loud. Both brothers swung their cameras up
captured the the only good footage of flight AA11's impact on the North
This is a single cropped frame from the film, which begins immediately
"We are in rapid descent ... we
are all over the place. I see water. I see buildings. I
see buildings! We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are
flying way too low. Oh my God we are flying way too low. [Long, deep
inhalation.] Oh my God!" (static)
flight attendant AA Flight 11
In older office buildings,
the staircases were
often shielded with poured concrete. In both World Trade
Center Towers, the staircases were shielded with two layers of
"fireproof-grade" gypsum wallboard. The North Tower is hit
squarely, and all three staircases and the elevator shafts are taken
out. 1344 people are trapped.
8:50 - 8:51: First
documented jump from the Towers: North Tower ( north face, 93rd floor).
United Airlines flight UA175 zeros in on WTC 2, the South Tower.
The plane, a ca 300,000 lb 767-200ER going an estimated 586
the tower's south face at 9:03.
With the North Tower already hit, eyes were on the sky and
many photos were taken.
click to enlarge (photo: Sean Adair - Reuters)
Naka Nathaniel, New York Times
ABC via APTN
We are looking south at the north face of the North Tower (with
where AA Flight 11 entered.
On the right, UA Flight 175 is banking off the Hudson River
to come up against the south face of the South Tower, which we cannot see.
It is still turning on impact, hits obliquely, and spares one of the three central-column staircases.
photo: Carmen Taylor via KHBS - KHOG-TV
Chao Soi Cheong - Associated Press. Click to enlarge.
looking at both Towers' eastern faces, lit by the morning sun.
It is 9:03 AM. The South Tower (2 WTC, left) has
been hit from the left by another 767, UA 175 that took off
for LA from Boston 49 minutes ago.
The plane's fuselage shreds, and the two steel alloy
engines hurtle across the Tower, but the plane has entered obliquely
and one of the three staircases remains (barely) passable.
A tidal wave of shredded aluminum and fuel sweeps entirely
across many floors between the 78th - 84th levels. The tidal
wave of debris runs south to north, mostly along the eastern
face, and breaks out on the northeast corner (photo). It is
this eastern face which will later start the collapse.
The debris continues to burn long after the jet fuel has disappeared in
a fireball. It is the debris that keeps the fire going long enough
to soften structural steel and doom 2 WTC,
Fifty-six minutes later (9:59), the South Tower collapses.
Jules and Gedeon Naudet got photos of the North Tower being struck
almost by accident, but many people photographed the second strike.
Chao Soi Cheong - AP
The South Tower fireball and additional moment after impact.
Only parallax from this ground-level view makes the flames appear to
explode against the neighboring black building.
They are actually much higher (78th - 84th floors; see other
Chao Soi Cheong - AP
Having burned long enough to create an upward convection current,
the South Tower fireball now rises.
fireball ignited the shredded contents of all the offices on a given
floor, and those materials, not the aviation fuel, sustained the blaze
long enough to bring the building's structure steel to red-hot
temperatures. Although there are special alloys (e.g.,
cobalt-vanadium steel) that remain hard at red heat, their
expense and other limitations confine their use to cutting tools in
manufacturing. In older office
towers, poured concrete was used to shield key structural
steel elements. In the World Trade Center Towers, the
sprayed-on steel fireproofing was just blown away.
Spencer Platt - Getty Images
Photo just after the 9:03AM impact of UA175, a nearly fully-fueled
Boeing 767-200ER jet, into the South Tower. The plane flew
into the opposite side of the left (south) Tower; we are looking at the
entry wound of the right (north) Tower. The planes attacked
17 minutes apart from opposite directions.
Spencer Platt - Getty Images
fireball grows older and rises. On the left of the left
Tower, no plane struck. The force of the explosion is blowing
out all the windows. Towers will never be built again with
the flaws which led to these towers' collapse, and trapped
with no route of escape. But let us note that the impact of
aircraft weighing about 300,000 lbs each and traveling at over
miles per hour did not topple either structure.
click to enlarge (Photo: Marty Lederhandler, AP)
o'clock hour in New York City, 11 Sept 2001. It
is after the South Tower (left) has been hit at 9:03, and
before it collapses at 9:59. Four minutes after it was hit at
8:46, people began jumping from the North Tower. For nearly a
quarter hour, this chilling spectacle drove thousands to the South Tower
elevators while they still worked.
Although the South Tower was hit lower (78-84th floors vs
93-98th), fewer people were caught above the impact area
(about 600, vs 1344 in the North Tower).
He said, "You know, I think those buildings could go over."
And I said, "There's no way." I said, "Those are steel structures."
And I didn't finish the sentence.
Brian Clark (World Trade Center Survivor, South Tower, 84th
floor office) is one of only 18 people who found the 1 of 3 staircases
that was passable, and got down it before the fires burned through the
sheet rock (two layers, "fireproof grade") that failed to protect the
escape route. In the North Tower, all staircases
were disabled, because the plane hit squarely and the tidal wave of
fuel and debris --and perhaps the heavy airplane jet
as well -- went straight to the core.
South Tower. Click image to enlarge.
Flight UA175 hit the South Tower obliquely (left to right),
snow-plowing shattered offices and everything in them
into a wall of burning debris along the eastern facade (foreground),
which is now (9:59) buckling.
The entire support structure failed, so what you see tipped now came
without falling completely out of the tower's ground-floor footprint.
Sancetta - AP.
The South Tower collapses
as its east wall crumples.
Foreground: Banker's Trust Building, aka Deutsche Bank Building, torn
after it was deemed still standing, but irreparable.
Photo: Jose Jimenez, Primera Hora (Getty Images)
The progressive collapse of the South Tower is in full swing.
Both towers pancaked.
photo: Associated Press
The outer columns break apart as the WTC South Tower collapses.
Click to see an enlarged, less-doctored version of this great photo by
a great photographer.
The collapsing South Tower hurls huge chunks of its outer columns on 3
WTC, the Marriott Vista hotel.
The 825-room hotel was destroyed.
- AP click to enlarge
The South Tower: hit last, collapses first.
The North Tower pancakes 1 hour and 42 minutes after being hit at 8:46.
In videos, the North Tower central antenna mast was stable for a moment after the outer facades started to go,
suggesting the central core survived, but the floor trusses sagged,
which pulled in the columnar "skin" of an outer wall, the same in each Tower.
That made the "tipping top" photos above.
Then the many, long floor trusses pulled loose from their bolts at both the central column and outer wall ends.
One falling floor pancaked the entire building.
The North Tower begins to collapse at 10:28, 1 hour and 42 minutes
after being struck.
Although flight AA11 hit squarely and severed all staircases and
the tower that was hit first fell last.
Photo: NY Police Dept. - Detective Greg Semendinger - AP
Click to enlarge.
The second tower collapses, beginning at 10:28.
reddish building lower right is 7 WTC, a 47-story skyscraper
above a Consolidated Edison electrical substation,
housing Solomon Brother, ITT Hartford Insurance, the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) offices,
and other tenants. It collapsed at 5:21 pm on 9/11 the same
way as the towers did:
fires weakened structural steel insufficiently protected by masonry.
Low water pressure prevented the building's sprinkler system from
suppressing the fire.
The 7 WTC collapse in turn damaged the BMCC's (Bureau of Manhattan
Community College) Fiterman Hall.
The college dorm was demolished in 2009.
Photo: NY Police Dept. - Detective Greg Semendinger - AP
Click to enlarge.
The collapse of the second, North tower.
building (left) is the Banker's Trust Bldg (later
called the Deutsche Bank Bldg).
It was deemed irreparable; demolition was completed Jan 2011.
Close to the Hudson River (top) is the World Financial Center,
where the twin, green-topped American Express and Merrill Lynch
Photo: Timothy A Clary - Agence France-Presse (AFP)
7 WTC, a 47-story reddish skyscraper prominent on the north side of the
WTC campus, collapsed at 5:21 PM on 11 September 2001.
7 WTC collapsed for the
same reasons the Twin Towers did: failure of structural steel,
unprotected by masonry, from the softening heat of fires.
Just as the multiple, water-tight hulls and bulkheaded
compartments made the Titanic unsinkable, so 7 WTC's automatic fire
suppression system, with sprinklers throughout the building, made
collapse from structural failure impossible. Unfortunately,
water pressure was low that day.
7 WTC's collapse from low water pressure contributed to low voltages
and power supply problems, because it was built above a Consolidated
Edison (ConEd) electrical substation. At 7 WTC, there
were huge transformers as well as emergency generators at the
bottom, and paying tenants (Salomon Brothers, ITT Hartford Insurance
and the Security and Exchange Commission--SEC--among others) above.
7 WTC's collapse (in the 2nd layer of buildings
away from the North Tower) in turn doomed the Fiterman Hall dormitory
of BMCC, the Borough of Manhattan's Community College. Three
layers away from the Tower, it was demolished in 2009.
Photo: Robert Deutsch - USA Today
10:29AM on 9/11/2001, 1 minute after the North Tower begins
We are looking downwind across the Hudson River. The wind,
characteristically from the west, is blowing silica dust from the
Hudson Riverside WTC complex eastward across all of lower Manhattan.
Click to enlarge.
Looking north-east somewhat upward at Manhattan, not just straight
across the river.
Photo: Kathy Willens - AP.
22 April 2008:
EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman cannot be held liable for telling
residents near the World Trade Center site that the air was safe to
breathe after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court said
Tuesday. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said legal
remedies are not always available for every instance of arguably
deficient governmental performance. A lower court judge had
earlier (2006) refused to dismiss Whitman as a defendant. U.S.
District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts said her actions were
"conscience-shocking", but her judgment was overruled on later appeal.
Before you try to help anyone in an oil spill, a
reactor meltdown, an earthquake collapse, anything, go to your doctor
first. Get a baseline physical, X-rays, blood test.
The government has learned to prevent the collection of baseline
data on the people it serves, because it makes it too hard for them to
refuse aid and escape accountability later.
Photo: Rusty Kennedy - AP.
First sunset, 11 September 2011, looking north from Atlantic Highlands, NJ
James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010" is named after
a first-responding New York policeman who died from incurable,
progressive deterioration of his lungs caused by Ground Zero dust.
Congress filibustered The Zadroga Act until Jon Steward
ridiculed them in public. It passed, it is better than nothing,
and it cleverly excludes all coverage for cancer. Die quietly and
don't come back for help.
Photo: Charles Krupa - AP.
The first night after the 911 attacks, looking north east.
Photo: Tannen Maury - Agence France-Presse (AFP)
The first sunrise after the attacks of 11 September 2011.
Southern Manhattan skyline from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.
dust was a mixture of mercury vapor from the thousands of florescent
tubes, gazes from the improperly burning jet fuel, asbestos, pulverized
concrete dust from the structure itself, as well as untold hundreds of
other volatile chemicals made from the burning computers, monitors,
carpeting, clothing, and bodies that made up the mess at Ground Zero."
Tom Hansen, Chandler, AZ, reviewing on Amazon
the book City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11
Photo: Tom Dillon - USA Today.
The first day after the attack. The New York Skyline on 12 September 2001,
looking east (& a little south) from East Orange, New Jersey.
The book, City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11
has great joe-citizen reviews on Amazon
most obvious, although grim, lesson is this: however much you distrust
"government" , it's not enough. There is no doubt that in the aftermath
of 9/11--not just the first days, but weeks and months afterward,
Giuliani [Mayor], Christine Whitman [Federal EPA head], and other
government representatives deliberately misled everyone about the
danger posed by the dust that coated everything. Scientists were well
aware that , given the construction materials (including asbestos) and
contents of the buildings (computers, light bulbs) the dust likely
contained some quantity of unhealthy stuff, and yet as early as 9/12,
the government was advising everyone that the dust was "safe",
presumably in order to promote the agenda of reopening "Wall Street"
and business at the earliest possible moment. Various non-government
scientists have to sneak past guards to take samples of the dust for
examination. Offers of help from doctors, scientists, etc., including
teaching the workers who began clearing the rubble, are refused. Huh???
.... This part of the book is riveting and discouraging."
M.S. Butch, Katonah, New York
Statue of Liberty overlooks a dusty New York City skyline the morning after the attacks of 9/11.
Photo: Stuart Ramson - AP.
The 1st day after the attack, looking north-east across New York's Upper Bay.
Photo: Annie O'Neill, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Wednesday, 12 Sept. 2001 was a quiet day -- no planes.
Perhaps the only non-military flight on the East Coast that day was to deliver blood to the New York area.
This photo was shot out the window of that plane.
Home in Washington, DC, I heard a plane and looked up.
"Very high -- one from Europe that doesn't know yet," I thought.
Running back out, the binoculars told a different story.
America now had fully-armed jet fighters flying over domestic cities.
Lower Manhattan enveloped in smoke after the 911 attack -- long view from Staten Island
It is estimated that 500,000 people in New York and New Jersey will ultimately be affected by the dust from 9/11.
IKONOS satellite photo (ground resolution, 1 meter),
looking south, 11:43 AM on Wednesday, 12 September 2001.
click to enlarge
Witness to the North Tower's collapse (photo: Shawn Baldwin, AP)
- 1993 Feb WTC truck bombing by Ramzi Yousef, who flees to
- 1995 Saudi Arabia car bomb, 13 Nov, Riyadh
- 1996 Saudi Arabia truck bomb, 25 June, Khobar Towers,
- 1999 Los Angeles airport attempt stopped at Canadian border
- 2000 Yemen, USS Cole boat bomb
- 2001 11 August, Zacarias Moussaoui arrested on tip from
- 2001 10 Sept: "Tomorrow is zero hour" and "The match begins
tomorrow." (These two National Security Agency electronic
intercepts from Afghanistan phones were translated on 12
the attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller announced "there were no
warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of
operation in the country." For me as an American, the most
important lesson of 911 is that my government failed to protect me and
never apologized for it.