Charles Strozier, author of the forthcoming Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses, has started a blog 9/11 After Ten Years that addresses many of the issues in the book.
So far Strozier has written about the power of images as it relates to 9/11; Psychotherapy and 9/11; and most recently he describes the experiences of riders on the subway who learned of the attack on their commute to work.
An Underworld of Experience on 9/11 tells the story of a Brooklyn couple, Jonathan and Gabriela (not their real names), who slowly learned about the attack on the World Trade Center as people who saw it or heard about it got on the train. Strozier quotes from an email that Jonathan sent to him which what happened when he and his wife got off the train:
When we emerged from the subway, we were on the street corner of Canal and Varick, just over three quarters of a mile from the World Trade Center as the crow flies. From there we saw the punctures, smoke and flames firsthand. I thought I saw debris falling from the north tower, but a man in a yarmulke next to me said no, that it was people escaping from the burning towers by jumping to their death. Sadly, it was then painfully clear that he was right. As small as they were, you could tell. It was the way they fell.
We went into my wife’s office to use the phone. It was on the third floor of the old Starmedia headquarters at Canal and Varick. While I was leaving a voicemail for my stepfather, we saw the first tower collapse from a southern facing, floor-to-ceiling window. It was unthinkable and horrific, and it seemed like it might fall toward us since it sloped to the left as it came down. It was a very disorienting experience, with other people in the office shrieking. We evacuated the building and went to my office at Spring and Hudson to regroup. In front of the entrance, we met a friend of ours, who worked in my building. Among a crowd of hundreds of people, the three of us watched the north tower burn until it sank into itself and collapsed. We went inside to escape the advancing dust cloud billowing up several stories high toward Canal Street, a few block south of us. At my office, Gabriella and I decided to stay with our friend until she could find her brother, Alejandro, who worked at the Financial Times near the WTC. The three of us separated for a while to make more phone calls, and then Gabriella and I walked with our friend to St. Vincent’s. We all made our way back through the East Village and over the Manhattan Bridge to Tillary Street in Brooklyn, where we found Alejandro at his apartment at about 6 or 7. We didn’t get back to our apartment in Park Slope until 9.