I started to walk uptown with a parade of businessmen and office workers, up 11th Avenue. Every few blocks, I would look back to confirm that what was happening was real. It was. At Canal Street, my wife managed to reach me on my phone to tell me that my brother was OK. He had been late coming to work because of one of his daughters and was on the train when Tower 1, where his office was located, was hit. His firm lost eight employees that day.
Perhaps five minutes after hanging up the phone, I heard a roar from behind me and turned around just in time to see Tower 2 collapse in a cloud of dust.
As I reached the the West Village, the scene repeated itself: first a roar, then the marching crowd stopped, turned and gasped as Tower 1 disappeared.
Hysterical, I phoned my father.
"It's gone, they're gone, they're all gone," I said.
"What are you talking about?"
"Both towers are just not there anymore, they're not there. Those big buildings. How can they not be there?"
"Listen, Daniel," he said. "Go and find a bar and have a drink. This is a terrible day, but you'll see. It'll be all right. In eight months, they'll come in and remake that place so that you'd never know anything happened there. They need to rebuild this and move forward as quickly as possible, and they will. They'll make it better. They'll want to prove our strength and rebuild it faster and better than it ever was before."
His prediction, although comforting at the time, proved overly optimistic. It would take nearly a decade for the new One World Trade Center (known colloquially as the Freedom Tower) to start to appear on the Manhattan skyline, and construction still isn't finished.