On Twitter, New Yorkers weave an oral history of 9/11

In 140 characters or less, users who were in New York City at the time summed up what they saw.

 

Kevin Collier

IRL

Published Sep 11, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 6:49 am CDT

Twitter has found the perfect way to commemorate the communal horror of the September 11 attacks.

On the 12th anniversary of 9/11, the hashtag #wherewereyou—possibly a nod to the Alan Jackson song—trended in the U.S. In 140 characters or less, users who were in New York City at the time summed up what they saw, weaving an oral history of that day.

12 years ago today Sept 11th. We Will Never Forget. Still remember the smoke in the sky. Saying lots of prayers for families who lost lives.

— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) September 11, 2013

at cafe in Chelsea, thinking at first it was an amateur plane like the one that hit the Empire State Building in the 20s #wherewereyou

— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) September 11, 2013

#wherewereyou Working at 59th and Madison for Related. Could see straight down 5th to the towers. pic.twitter.com/F3A1L0l5Xn

— paul berry (@teamreboot) September 11, 2013

@ron_fournier in the east village saw the first plane on tv went to my roof and saw the worst day of life unfold before me #wherewereyou

— Robin Kovalevich (@Robin621k) September 11, 2013

#wherewereyou standing on 6th/25th watching 1st tower burn from 1st plane hitting it. all thought accident or movie filming stunt gone wrong

— Tamra M Cronin (@ilovemytroops) September 11, 2013

#wherewereyou In the last subway train that left WTC that fateful day.

— Shirley Brady (@shirleybrady) September 11, 2013

Confirming my dad, who worked in N. tower, wasn’t there. Then down to evacuated WH for updates fr Alan Etter. Chasing rumors. #wherewereyou

— Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) September 11, 2013

I seen alot of smoke but I thought it was heat from an apartment until a para comes in & my teacher turns on the radio. #WhereWereYou

— Matthew Rodriguez (@TheUnsung0) September 11, 2013

@kimijtoo #wherewereyou I was at work in NYC. The sound and smells will live in me forever.

— Cathie Tagliagambe (@Cattag) September 11, 2013

Up early for school, saw it unfold on TV. That night my brother, F-16 pilot, called up for duty- nightly air patrols over NYC #wherewereyou

— Savannah Guthrie (@SavannahGuthrie) September 11, 2013

For some, though, 140 characters weren’t enough.

40 Wall Street. 30th floor. Staring at South Tower of World Trade Center. My story: https://t.co/DWS7UlEGvU #wherewereyou @rebelmouse

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

At 8:46 & 9:01 am, the planes struck. But, for me, this moment, 10:28, when the second tower fell, is when it all froze in time for me…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

I watched the 2nd plane hit. Ran down 30 flights of steps from 40 Wall. To where? Left. To the water. Jump in and swim, if you have to…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…We began to walk uptown, on the FDR. Away. Away from downtown. Away from what we just witnessed. Away from fiery debris…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…And in leaving the scene behind, we put the Towers out of our view. We heard rumblings. But we kept on booking north. Then, at 10:28…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…that’s where it all happened. That’s when we caught a view of it on our way uptown: NOTHING. Just smoke. No buildings. Not there…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…At 9:01 I watched it. That South Twoer fireball? IN MY FACE. Right there, up close. 90 minutes later, there was nothing. No Towers…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…and that’s when I realized what 9/11 was. Not 8:46 or 9:01, but 10:28, that’s when 9/11 became 9/11 for me. That’s when my brain froze…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…It’s the little things. I bought a Nesquik that morning. I wore really uncomfortable shoes. I *just* got my first cell phone…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…Even without Twitter, the flurry of conversation on the FDR was all wrong. “They hit the White House!” “Empire State bombed!” …

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…but mostly it’s the blank expressions. Nobody was sad. Or vengeful. Or even concerned. Nobody had a face to wear. Nobody could process…

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

…Worse, nobody had any idea where to go. Where’s safety? Which way? How do we get there? And how do I tell my loved ones I’m okay?

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

In the best 9/11 post-script ever, I went to Game 5 of the 2001 World Series. One of the best moments of my life: pic.twitter.com/nzTY2l9RHW

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

And scene. Thanks, guys. I feel better.

— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2013

Photo via quintanomedia/Flickr. Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

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*First Published: Sep 11, 2013, 10:59 am CDT