When the news broke on Sunday night that Osama bin Laden had been captured and killed, Chris Egan, an investment banker based near the New York Stock Exchange, said he almost slept through it. But Egan was far from sleep on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 almost ten years ago.
Egan worked in One World Trade Center, the first building that was struck by a terrorist-hijacked plane, and was able to make it out of the building alive. But like many professionals still based in lower Manhattan, the memory of that 2001 morning lingers. On Monday, the atmosphere in the streets of the financial district was mostly business as usual, with the usual throngs of tourists and financial professionals milling through the streets. But an increased press presence hinted at the bigger news of the day.
“I think people are smiling a lot,” Egan said Monday morning in front of the Broad Street office of Clearstream Banking, where he works. “Psychologically, I think it’s huge. I think it justifies our intelligence organizations. It justifies our troops being there. It justifies a lot of things. It would have been nice, obviously, if it had happened sooner.”
Egan said he could not see the plane when it struck his building on September 11, 2001, but definitely heard it. Then, the building swayed to the left and to the right and, for a moment, Egan thought it would topple. Then came the procession down the stairs, which Egan said was well organized, with very little panic.
“We basically hit Broadway when Tower Two came down, so we had literally just gotten out of the building,” Egan said. “So I didn’t really see Tower Two come down, I heard Tower Two come down. And so the second, Tower One, I did see come down. At that point, I was in Chinatown.”
Egan said he received a host of phone calls with the bin Laden news. Moments like this news or his participation in the documentary “Colliding Lives,” which is green lit by the Learning Channel, bring the memories of that day back, he said.
“[But] an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, you can’t bring the people back,” Egan said.
A Wall Street equities trader, who declined to be named for this story, said he also felt mixed emotions on Monday. On Sept. 11, 2001, he traveled through the World Trade Center’s PATH trains, and witnessed the events from his Jersey City, N.J. office, where he worked at that time. Today, the streets near the stock exchange might have been quieter and more contemplative than on other days, he said.
“If it brings back any sense of closure to the victims, then that’s a good thing,” he said. “But unfortunately it’s not like a chess game where you capture the king and it’s over.”
In the days immediately following the 2001 attacks, the atmosphere around lower Manhattan was depressing and people were very shell-shocked, said David Tyler, an attorney at American Express. At that time, Tyler worked for a law firm located one block from the World Trade Center. One of the attorneys from his firm went into the buildings to help and never made it out. The information about bin Laden was happy news, Tyler said.
“Things have kind of gotten back to normal,” Tyler said. “There’s that reminder always with that hole in the ground. I think that once that’s built and now that they’ve gotten bin Laden, I think there will be a little more closure for people.”