9/11 20 years later: Patrice O’Connor, Clifton Park – Clear blue sky, thick black smoke | Readers remember

The twin towers of the World Trade Center burn behind the Empire State Building in New York, Sept. 11, 2001.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
The twin towers of the World Trade Center burn behind the Empire State Building in New York, Sept. 11, 2001.

I boarded the train in Albany headed for Manhattan for a two-day work meeting.

It was a clear and crisp early September day. When we arrived at Penn Station and tried to enter our building at One Penn Plaza, everyone was outside and on their cellphones. We asked some folks what happened and they said the building was evacuated.

A few minutes later it was all clear and we went inside to the 11th floor. We were told that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. I called my mom and she filled me in from the TV updates. Several co-workers arrived from downtown upset and crying. We were told the building was going to be evacuated again in case Penn Plaza was also a target.

We tried to get an Amtrak train back to Albany, but Penn Station was being evacuated and we were sent out into the street. We wandered around 7th Avenue until we found a bar with a TV and saw the towers collapse. I was shocked and scared, and we had no idea where we could go to be safe. We started walking uptown to our hotel.

What sticks in my memory all of these years later was the contrast in the color of the sky. Heading north, the sky was a brilliant clear blue. When we turned to the south all we could see was thick black smoke.

We walked down the middle of Lexington Avenue — there were no cars; almost no sound except the occasional siren. Police cars that we saw were covered in white soot.

My goal was to try to get home and I did eventually get out of Manhattan. It took many months before I could return to NYC.

-Patrice O’Connor, Clifton Park

More Remembrances: We remember; The Daily Gazette’s special Sept. 11 anniversary section 

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Categories: 9/11 20 Years Later, Life and Arts

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