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Note: This article was originallly published on and

The World Trade Center Horror - September 11, 2001
Photographs and text by Frank X. Didik

Notice on publication rights: When I wrote the information and shot the photographs on September 11 and the following few days, I did not have any intention of commercializing this tragedy and what I saw. Many media companies and publishers have pointed out that this is a unique historic archive and that by publication, it serves as a tribute and memorial to this tragedy. For this reason, requests for publication of any photographs or text will be considered on a case by case basis. Altogether, I shot about 1,000 digital 1 megapixel photographs on September 11 through September 28, 2001. In addition, high quality, night photographs of the light memorial are available. Thumb nail images of some of the photographs are or will be available for review at: For details on publication rights and terms, please send an email to inquiry [at] Please note that I strictly forbid the publication of any of my photographs that may contain graphic gore. I want to preserve the proper memory for those who suffered and their families. Between March and July, 2001, I photographed every building in Manhattan south of 72 Street including the entire area around the former World Trade Center. These photographs (covering the area prior to the World Trade Center disaster) are also available for publication. For this you may wish to log onto or Thank you

  Words can not describe how terrible I feel about the destruction of the twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the horrific loss thousands of lives and the enormous number of injured. I, as probably all New Yorkers and Americans, was stunned upon learning of the destruction of our great landmark. Since I live right next to the Manhattan Bridge, and can see the WTC from next to my building, I immediately walked over the Brooklyn Bridge to see if could be of any assistance.   Below are some of the photographs and video images that I took between 10:15AM till 8:45PM. Many photographs were taken with a non-digital camera, using a 600mm lens and have yet to be processed. The second World Trade Center tower had just collapsed. The first photographs were taken in Brooklyn, at the approach of the Brooklyn Bridge. I then walked over the bridge to City Hall. Police and emergency personnel were everywhere. Military jets were circling the city. Many, if not most people, were covered with a fine and light weight beige dust. Absolutely every person was very solemn. Police were extremely polite. Everyone was in a state of shock.

Scroll down to bottom of page to read a full, unedited account of events of this day.

Click on photographs to enlarge.

A horrifying view of the NYC skyline from a grassy approach to the Brooklyn Bridge missing the two twin Towers of the World Trade Center. About 10:15AM

A view of Manhattan from the walk way over the Brooklyn Bridge.


A thick, eye irritating, choking smoke engulfed most of lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn Heights.


One Center Street Building shown from the Brooklyn Bridge. Fire departments from outside of New York City joining in the rescue.

City Hall, to the right of the photograph.

A very thick coat of a white/beige, light weight, gritty soot covered the entire lower Manhattan. It ranged from a thin film to over 6" thick.


An emergency vehicle rushes past City Hall going over the Brooklyn Bridge.

A US Army liaison officer in front of City Hall, surrounded by several ranking police officers (not visible). I over heard him talking on the telephone saying "general, we need full logistical support, everything..."



The only business open was the bar Puffy's Tavern on the corner of Harrison and Hudson Street, that was packed with local workers, in a state of shock, looking at a television set.

The bar was so crowded that people were outside looking at the TV set.

Looking downtown on Hudson Street.


Looking south from the 29th floor of 40 Harrison
Street, three blocks north of the former trade center.

7 World Trade Center, at about 2:30PM.


7 World Trade Center on fire

The very large, covered pedestrian foot bridge, over the West Side Highway had collapsed onto the highway as a result of being hit by debris from one of the Twin Towers.


1. Former WTC Twin Towers behind the building.
2. Direction of 7 World Trade Center.
3. The damaged, World Financial Center
4. The Collapsed Pedestrian foot bridge.

In addition to the collapsed foot bridge, I could observe many, many destroyed fire trucks and emergency vehicles. These are visible in the original, high resolution photographs.

These photographs were taken from the roof of 40 Harrison Street (39 floors high). The roof was deserted.


The scene on the street of Greenwich Street, 4 blocks north of the WTC.

Arrow points to 7 World Trade Center on fire at the base.

A few moments later, the building collapsed. The plume of smoke quickly went up Greenwich Street and I was forced to race indoors. (29 floors above street level). SEE BELOW for enlargements.

As some of the smoke clears at 7 WTC, about 1.5 minutes after building collapsed.

Smoke rising from collapsed 7 WTC, covering the Woolworth Building.





All subways and roads were closed out and into Manhattan, except for emergency vehicles. The only way out was by foot over the Manhattan Bridge. about 7:50PM


Smoke rising over the NYC Skyline.



A tragic view of Manhattan showing the Brooklyn Bridge and for the first time since 1976, without the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Tears formed in my eyes upon seeing this tragedy.

The thought that perhaps thousands of people were buried under the ruble and were dying or dead is just too much to bear.

Check points were setup
at the entrances of all bridges and tunnels into Manhattan. The Manhattan Bridge entrance is shown in this case (about 8:45PM).

LEFT: 7 World Trade Center collapsing. The smoke cloud shown here is rushing north on Greenwich street. Debris, as large as 1 foot (30cm), were thrown as far north as Chambers Street and beyond. As far as I know, no one was injured or killed in the collapse of this 47 story building, as it had been evacuated several hours earlier.

Some images of how this remarkable building appeared just a little while ago.

Click here for photographs and account of the days after (September 12 and 13, 2001)

I live in an area of Brooklyn, just over the Manhattan Bridge, known as DUMBO. My building is only a few feet from the main entrance of the Bridge. I have a view of the World Trade Center just a few feet from my building. I am a late night person and as such, I normally get up around 10:30-11:00AM. This morning, starting around 9:00AM, I started to hear fire engine after fire engine roaring past my house and over the Manhattan Bridge. At first I didn't take real notice, but after a while, I decided to check out, what was wrong. I turned on my television, which had been set to channel 13. I could not get a signal, so I kept going down the channels until I hit Channel 2. At that very moment, there was a picture a building on fire and then, a couple of seconds later, the announcer said "this is the remaining World Trade Center Tower". Instantly, I was filled with emotion and I was in a state of disbelief and at the same time, felt complete grief. I have to admit that tears formed in my eyes. I could not imagine New York City without the twin Towers, at the same time, I realized and was devistated by the thought that hundreds, if not thousands of people had either perished or were trapped, just a short distance from where I was staying. I immediately ran out of the building and headed to Manhattan to see if I could be of any assistance. To my entire street was surrounded by police, fire and other emergency vehicles, going to Manhattan. A few moments later, I heard that the second tower had collapsed. I was stunned, and I am still stunned. At about the same time, hundreds and hundreds of people started streaming over the Brooklyn Bridge (two blocks from the entrance of the Manhattan Bridge). I then walked across the bridge taking these and other photographs. I was stunned by what I saw. The Brooklyn Bridge ends in front of City Hall. The state of City Hall was very somber. Every police officer was extremely polite. Everyone, including myself, was in a state of shock. The entire area was coated by a film of fine dust and ash. Thick, dark smoke was everywhere. I, as well as everyone else, including the press, was not allowed to go south in the direction of the World Trade Center, so I walked west, hoping to catch a glimpse of what was happening. I walked west to Hudson Street, were, normally, one could easily see the Trade Center, only two blocks south. Nothing was visible except thick, thick smoke. I was directed by the police to travel north, where I went to Harrison Street, about 4 blocks north of the center. I quickly discovered that after the initial attack on the first Trade Center Tower, a huge number of rescue vehicles and personnel had gone to and entered the building to assist the injured. When this building collapsed, apparently, many, if not most were trapped or killed. Much of the rescue equipment was damaged or destroyed. This was confirmed to me, to a degree, after I went to the roof of 40 Harrison Street (39 floors) and saw that emergency vehicles, that had been as far away as 2 blocks from the Trade Center, seems to have been destroyed. At the same time, I noticed that the eighth and ninth (?) floors of 7 World Trade Center (49 floors), were on fire. Otherwise, 7 World Trade Center appeared to be, from my norther vantage point, in good condition. What I later discovered was that the southern side of the building had sustained major damage and was in critical condition. About 1.5 hours later, this building also collapsed. The noise of the collapsing building was not as loud as one might imagine. It sounded like a massive thud. As loud, or perhaps louder, were the screams of hundreds of people who witnessed the collapse from street level, far below my vantage point, now on a terrace on the 29 floor of 40 Harrison Street. Upon collapsing, a huge, huge plume of smoke, resembling an ocean tidal wave rushed up Greenwich Street. The owner of the apartment that I had been at saw the on rushing plume and felt that it may contain a ball of fire or at least, be of a choking density. We ran back inside and closed the glass door. Within 2 minutes, the immediate danger had passed and we went back outside and saw a massive cloud of smoke, small debris strewn along Greenwich Street and two relatively small fires on the street that were quickly put out. I believe that few, if any people were injured in this collapse since most, if not all the people had been evacuated from this building prior to its collapse. I had been told that rather little rescue work had been done as of 5:00PM in the center the disaster zone. Indeed, from the top of 40 Harrison Street, I could see little direct work being done and it seems that no attempt had been made to save 7 World Trade Center. Most of the saved victims seem to have been on the peripheral of the disaster center. I will speculate that the reason for this is the on going fires at the site and the fact that a number of rescue personnel have perished. I presume that victims remain trapped beneath the rubble. A friend of mine lives at 310 Greenwich Street, on the 23 floor. He had had a clear view of the former World Trade Center. After the first plane hit this building, he saw 13 people jump to their deaths to escape the enormous heat (which is now estimated to have been 1500 degrees Fahrenheit). In one case, a couple kissed, held hands and jumped together from about the 80th floor. Another friend of mine had visited her clients on the 102 floor of the first building which collapsed. She is deeply concerned about their fate. I, as most New Yorkers, have been in the World Trade Center, many, many times. It is truly hard to imagine that they no longer exist. A friend of mine, who imigrated to the USA from Lithuania, was fascinated by the enourmous size of the World Trade Center and used to affectionatley call the two towers as the "Twins". This is a tragedy of huge and horrible proportions.

A couple of other observations. Immediately after the collapse of the twin towers, my cell phone did not function and all broadcast televisions stations, with the exception of Channel 25 and Channel 2 (CBS) ceased to function. ABC, which normally broadcasts on Channel 7, in New York City, started to broadcast on Channel 25, which is owned by New York City. I believe that these two stations have transmitters on top of the Empire State Building, rather than on top of the Trade Center, as the other stations had had. Cable TV was not effected. By noon, my cell phone was working. Electricity was available in all of Manhattan, at first, but by 3:00PM, the electricity had been cut off in certain areas around the Trade Center. By 7:00PM, telephone service to lower Manhattan seems to have been disrupted. All bridges and Tunnels into Manhattan have been restricted to emergency use only and for out going pedestrian traffic only. Road blocks have been set up on both sides of all bridge and tunnel entrances. As of 11:00PM, there is a total curfew in Manhattan for all areas south of 14 Street, from the East River to the Hudson River. Anyone caught out after 12:00AM, will be arrested, according to Mayor Giuliani, and charged with a class B misdemeanor. Tomorrow, all of Manhattan will be closed to vehicle traffic and all of Manhattan, south of 14 Street will be closed to non-residents of that area. The stock exchange and other facilities are closed. All airline flights in the USA have been grounded. Besides, and far less important, than the terrible human toll, there is also the economic loss. So many companies had important offices in the former World Trade Center. Even if backups exist of important documents, one has to wonder, who will be able to use them. Before this disaster, the World Trade Center had 50,000 highly educated, skilled workers as well as an estimated 70,000 visitors each day.
(New York City, USA)
Copyright© 1977 - 2020 by Frank X. Didik, All Rights Reserved




Frank X. Didik with NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and first lady Chirlane McCray, at Gracy Mansion.

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