Terrorist Attack At New York City World Trade Center

Harvey Eisner introduces coverage of the deadly terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 and the heroic work of America’s Bravest, featuring our first interviews with FDNY firefighters, officers and chiefs who responded to the site.


Deadliest Attack On U.S. Soil 343 FDNY firefighters die in the line of duty 25,000 civilians saved from the sprawling 16-acre complex Thousands of FDNY members affected by exposure to smoke, fumes, dust from "Ground Zero" Sept. 11, 2001 - or now known to many as just 9/11...


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Deadliest Attack On U.S. Soil

343 FDNY firefighters die in the line of duty

25,000 civilians saved from the sprawling 16-acre complex

Thousands of FDNY members affected by exposure to smoke, fumes, dust from "Ground Zero"

Sept. 11, 2001 - or now known to many as just 9/11 - is a date which will be remembered long after most of us reading this are gone. The worst terrorist attack to strike the United States occurred when two hijacked commercial passenger jetliners crashed into the upper floors of New York City's World Trade Center. The resultant fire and collapse of the twin 1,350-foot-tall towers decimated the 16-acre site. Numerous buildings in the complex or located nearby were destroyed or suffered catastrophic damage.

The initial FDNY response at the change of tours brought numerous units to the scene. As the fires escalated and the buildings collapsed, requests were made for a nearly 25-alarm response from all over the city. First reports estimated 10,000 civilians were killed or missing. There were early reports that nearly 400 firefighters had been killed. Personnel who were just going off duty rode on responding apparatus, and many off-duty firefighters reported directly to the scene. It was some time before an accurate count of 343 firefighters killed or missing could be tabulated.

The Attack

American Airlines Flight 11 took off at 7:59 A.M. carrying 92 people from Boston's Logan Airport to Los Angeles. At 8:14 A.M., United Airlines Flight 175 left Boston for Los Angeles with 65 people aboard. Flight 11, a 767 jet, crashed into the north side of 1 World Trade Center (the north tower) at 8:45. At 9:03, Flight 175, a Boeing 767 jet, slammed into the south side of 2 World Trade Center (the south tower). The second jet reportedly was flying at least 100 knots faster than the first jet to strike the World Trade Center.

Minutes after the attack in New York City, the Pentagon, located in Arlington County, VA, became a target. American Airlines Flight 77, a jetliner carrying 64 people from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, slammed into an outside section of the huge military complex. This attack was also the work of hijackers aboard a passenger aircraft. A fourth hijacked jet, United Airlines Flight 93, that departed Newark, NJ, bound for San Francisco, crashed in Shanksville, PA, about 80 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. Apparently, passengers tried to overtake the hijackers and in the struggle the Boeing 757 with 45 people aboard crashed into a field. There were no survivors from any of the four jets.

The World Trade Center Complex Construction of the World Trade Center began in the late 1960s and was completed in the early 1970s. The cost was $1.5 billion. It took more than 200,000 tons of steel and 425,000 cubic yards of concrete to build the structures. The site included buildings 1 and 2, the twin office towers. Building 1, the north tower, was the first tower to be completed. Each tower had 104 elevators. A television antenna rose hundreds of feet above the north tower.

The complex also included building 3, a 22-story, 818-room Marriott Hotel that opened in 1981. This was the first hotel to open in lower Manhattan below Canal Street since 1836. Buildings 4 and 5 were nine-story office buildings. Building 6 was the eight-story U.S. Customs House.

Building 7, a 47-story high-rise office building, was newest structure in the complex and it housed the city's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) on the 23rd floor. OEM is charged with coordinating incidents of any type that involves multi-agency response. Its charter includes responsibility for hazard and threat identification, pre-planning, multi-agency training and response drills, and long-range recommendations regarding the city's capacity to deal with emergency conditions and potential incidents. The OEM was evacuated and reassembled at another location to contend with the ongoing incident.

The FDNY

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