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A look back at Sept. 11, 2001 and the days that followed

A look back at Sept. 11, 2001 and the days that followed

Now 22 years later, we are remembering the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the aftermath in the days after.

You can find a tour of the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum here.

Sept. 11

Before the attack

Here is the promotional poster for the Observation Deck at the World Trade Center. The poster depicts the Twin Towers created from a collage of words of all the various different sites you can see from the Observation Deck. The Observation Deck was 107 stories, on top of South Tower. The elevator ride went a quarter-mile in 58 seconds. The towers had 22 restaurants and 60 retail establishments.

At 1,377 feet, the Observation Deck’s outdoor viewing platform was the highest in the world at the time. On a clear day, one could see 45 miles in each direction. On average, the observation deck attracted 1.8 million visitors per year, or about 4,900 a day.

Security screening

Shortly after 7:35 a.m., hijackers Salem al-Hazmi, left, and Nawaf al-Hazmi clear security at Washington Dulles International Airport. They are among the five who will hijack American Airlines Flight 77.

Portland International Jetport and Washington Dulles International Airport had security cameras installed at checkpoints. Boston Logan International Airport and Newark International Airport did not have surveillance equipment in operation.

The 19 hijackers are affiliated with the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda.


Result of attacks

There were 2,996 fatalities and more than 25,000 injuries.

At least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.

The deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the deadliest day for firefighters (340) and law enforcement officers (72) in the history of the U.S.

Sept. 12

Searching for survivors

Thousands of construction workers, first responders and self-dispatched volunteers converge at Ground Zero to search for survivors, improvising bucket brigades to remove debris from the mountainous pile formed by the collapse of the World Trade Center.

At 12:30 p.m., rescuers free Genelle Guzman from the wreckage. An employee for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who evacuated from the 64th floor of the North Tower. Guzman is the last of 18 people trapped in the rubble to be found alive.

Agencies act

Members of the New York City Fire Department search for survivors while fighting the fires that burn beneath the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center.

Clearing the perimeter

The New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Department of Sanitation work to clear the streets around the perimeter of the World Trade Center site. Personnel remove crushed cars, debris and other large obstacles to allow passage of emergency crews and construction equipment heading to the site.

Fresh Kills Landfill reopens

The Fresh Kills facility on Staten Island, a former landfill slated to become parkland, reopens shortly before daybreak to provide an area for investigators to analyze and further search the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

Fighting fires at the Pentagon

Fires continue to burn along the Pentagon’s roof. As the Arlington County Fire Department and firefighters from other regional departments battle the blaze. President George W. Bush visits the Pentagon to thank first responders and others who have arrived to assist.

Sept. 13

The photo below shows the Ground Zero cross, as seen from West Street. The steel fragment is relocated from its original location to the edge of the site near West Street on Oct. 3, 2001. The Ground Zero cross is on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.



Sept. 14

President Bush visits Ground Zero to thank workers and volunteers. During his visit, he gives an impromptu speech. When a worker calls out “I can’t hear you,” President Bush responds, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

Boundaries of the ‘Frozen Zone’ shift

Lower Manhattan becomes more accessible when a restricted district known as the “Frozen Zone” shifts from the entire area below 14th Street to the area south of Canal Street. Originally established on the evening of Sept. 11 by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, this bounded area is off-limits to non-rescue personnel and nonresidents.

Approximately 37,000 households are located south of Canal Street. Residents have to show proof of residence to enter.

Sept. 16

Volunteers begin serving hot meals outside St. Paul’s Chapel, which has been functioning as a respite center for recovery workers at the World Trade Center site since the day of the attacks. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army have been operating mobile relief stations since Sept. 11, and opened indoor respite and relief centers shortly after the attacks.

Sept. 17

The New York Stock Exchange reopens after its longest closure since the Great Depression of 1933. In honor of those killed in the attacks, the NYSE observes two minutes of silence before trading begins.

Formalizing the response

Given the complexities and hazards of Ground Zero, city authorities mandate that all workers at the site be credentialed. Most volunteers working within the site are replaced by a professional workforce.

Confronted with approximately 1.8 million tons of debris, the New York City Department of Design and Construction implements a strategy for clearing Ground Zero and split the site into four zones.

Memorial service held in Pennsylvania

A memorial service for relatives of those killed on hijacked Flight 93 is held near the crash site at Indian Lake, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Ridge and first lady Laura Bush speak. To accommodate family members unable to attend this memorial service, a second one is held Sept. 20.

Sept. 18

Following previous announcements that air quality tests in lower Manhattan revealed no cause for public concern, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues a news release announcing that air and drinking water near the World Trade Center site are safe.

Sept. 21

FBI assumes control of the Pentagon crime scene.

Evidence found at the site includes airplane parts, portions of the hijackers’ identification cards and Flight 77’s flight data recorder.

Sept. 24

Mayor Giuliani announces that it is unlikely that any more survivors will be rescued from Ground Zero. The number of presumed dead, which will be revised progressively downward as missing person estimates are reevaluated, is reported to be 6,453. The day prior, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner had confirmed 261 dead, of which 194 had been identified.

Acknowledging the difficulties faced by family members who cannot obtain death certificates for loved ones whose remains have not been identified, New York Gov. George Pataki declares that state’s life insurance companies will accept uniform affidavits in place of death certificates.

Permanent memorial

The 9/11 Memorial opened on Sept. 11, 2011. It is located on the western side of the former World Trade Center complex where the Twin Towers once stood. The memorial was designed by two architects, Michael Arad and Peter Walker, whose proposal was selected in a design competition out of 5,201 submissions from 63 countries.

The Memorial Plaza surrounds two enormous reflecting pools set within the footprints of the North and South Towers.

The pools feature 30-foot waterfalls — the largest human-made waterfalls in North America. The water cascades into reflecting pools, finally disappearing into the center voids. The names of people who were killed in the attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and on Flight 93, as well as in the 1993 bombing at the WTC, are etched in bronze around the edges of the pools.

To learn more go to



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