... just after 17:30 EDT one Sunday evening while on holiday in New York my husband and I visited the Observatories in the World Trade Centre.
We wandered around admiring the fantastic views, we had a shot on the hellicopter simulation flight, I left our Rough Guide to New York book behind by mistake.
Little did we know that within the next 48 hours the twin towers would cease to exist.
We didn't see the planes hit the towers, we were eating breakfast in a diner near our hotel (which was on 56th street, a few blocks south of central park so well away from the financial district) . But everyone was talking about it though nobody really knew what was happening. Was it just a little plane, was it a passenger jet, was there a second one, how badly were the towers hit, nobody thought at that point that they would collapse. On leaving the diner we paused with others at a shop window full of television sets to try and figure out what was happening, we then returned to the hotel and watched it on tv just like so many others around the world.
That afternoon we walked up to central park, many people congregated there, transport in and out of Manhattan had stopped, fighter planes flew overhead.
The next few days were rather eerie. The air was filled with dust and smoke from the towers. There were almost no traffic and it was possible to wander down the middle of the streets. A lot of places were shut, we spent a lot of time visiting Central Park or walking the streets though it was recomended everybody stayed north of 14th St which did limit where we could go. We were able to visit Gramercy Park which is not normally open to the public (only people living around the park who pay an annual fee have a key), but they kindly opened it just after Sept 11, as a lot of peole just wanted somewhere quiet to go and sit. For the same reason Strawberry Fields in Central Park was very popular with people.
We were glad to be able to leave. One evening there was a bomb scare at the Empire Sate Building and people were evacuated from several blocks around - I packed my bags that night, just incase. A few days later we were able to take a train to Boston to carry on with the next section of our trip (all flights having been cancelled).
We were lucky. We ourselves were fine (fortunately we'd been too lazy to get up early to go and visit the Statue Of Liberty as had been our plan), nor did we know anybody directly affected. Much, though, has changed in the world in the ten years since it happened.