When the twin towers fell Sept. 11, 2001, the loss of life horrified everyone. The destruction of the towers symbolized the horror. Inland Northwest people who “knew” the towers, due to visits there as tourists or because they once lived nearby, recently shared their personal photos and remembrances of the twin towers.
Spokane architect Greg Higgins lived a few short blocks from the World Trade Center for most of the 1990s. When he first moved to New York City for graduate school, the twin towers were being topped out. This photo is from his mother’s visit to NYC in June 1996 for her 80th birthday present. Family members, along with other tourists, are on a boat approaching the Statue of Liberty, hence all the excitement shown in people’s faces, and the reason for the cameras. People in the photo: (from the left) – Higgins’ niece, Heather Hyland (with camera), his sister, Beth Ann Hyland holding his niece, Jillian Johnson, his mother, Liz Higgins, stands next to them. Another sister, Donna Merkeley, is in the yellow shirt, holding camera.
Darrell and Christine Larson visited the twin towers on Sept. 10, 2001. This photo was taken on the observation deck. “Our plane was to leave at 5:30 p.m. but because of a thunder and lightning storm we sat on the tarmac and finally took off about 10 p.m. for our next stop Salt Lake City. We saw the towers as we were leaving. We missed our connection and spent the night in Salt Lake. The next morning we went to check out of the hotel and found out the airport was closed and the towers had been attacked.”
The Weiser Family, in 1990, on the top of the twin towers From left to right, Jesse, Ellee, Isaac , Larry and Ben. “We visited 21 years ago and had a family photo taken on top of the twin towers by my brother. My youngest, Benjamin, was 3 and so adorable wearing his green foam Statue of Liberty crown. He is now 24. I was wearing a Bloomsday T-shirt. This photo hangs in our breakfast room.”
John Moore of Spokane Night Scenes Photography takes photos all over the world. He said of the World Trade Center: “Although we live in a beautiful community, nothing exists in any of the most recent imaging from rooftops that equal the experiences on top of the WTC.”
Ann Turnwall and John Erickson enjoying their visit to New York City on the top deck of a double-decker sightseeing bus, Oct. 1997.
Patti Osebold wrote: “My husband and I went to New York City on Aug. 23, 2001, for the first time in our lives, to drop off our daughter, Sara, at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for grad school. On Sept. 1, we took a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and a couple asked if we wanted our picture taken. We left New York on Sept. 6. Five days later, we saw on television the twin towers being attacked. Our first dreaded thought was: Where was Sara? Finally, she called and said she was headed toward the twin towers on the subway when people told her what had happened. She headed back to Brooklyn, thank goodness. When I finally had this picture developed, it took my breath away.”
Kimberly Young of Post Falls wrote of her photo: “I moved to Long Island in 1999 and lived there until January 2000. The twin towers represented power. For some reason, I did not actually go into them or pose in front for a picture. I always seemed to admire them from afar. I took pictures from our boat while roaming around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The towers stood boldly. I felt they were untouchable. I could see smoke for several days after the attack from my house on Long Island, 30 miles away. The skyline may look different today, but the power of the twin towers remains.
Kathleen Winters wrote: “In September 1981, my friend and I went to New York (where) we saw two shows on Broadway, ‘A Chorus Line’ and ‘Sugar Babies.’ We took a city tour to the top of the Empire State Building where this picture was taken.”
Melvin Hayes wrote: “In September 2000, I traveled to Newport News, Virginia, to pick up my daughter, Anne-Marie Hayes, who had just gotten out of the Navy after four years. We went to Liberty Island and up the Statue of Liberty. We had this picture taken at the base (of the statue) and you can see the twin towers above my head. Note the date: 9-11-00, exactly one year before 9-11.”
Arloine Brown wrote: “In May 1993, our daughter, Marita Cardinal, and her husband, Brad Cardinal, got their doctorate degrees from Temple University in Philadelphia. Both sets of parents flew in. The six of us went by train to New York. The most memorable was riding the elevator to the roof of the World Trade Center where we could look down to the city and even saw a plane flying below us. We stopped in a near the top restaurant to enjoy the view.” This is the photo taken near the top. Note the Statue of Liberty below. From left: Ralph and Arloine Brown, Rosalie Cardinal, Marita Cardinal.
Barbara Elliott Miller wrote: “I took this of the World Trade Center under construction in the early 1970s. I lived in Brooklyn Heights at the time and worked in Manhattan. When my job took me to St. Louis, my vacations often found me back in NYC with lunch dates at Windows on the World. What a strange, exhilarating feeling to watch small planes flying around below you.”
Shirley Pantaleo wrote: “My husband Jim and I arrived for a visit in New York City on September 7, 2001, prior to our New England/Canadian cruise aboard the Royal Princess. On Saturday the 8th we visited the Statue of Liberty and I (took) several photographs with the twin towers in the background. On Monday evening, the 10th of September, we sailed out of the New York harbor and the evening shot of the twin towers was taken about 9:45 p.m.”
Mary Nelson wrote: “My husband, Randy, and I took a brief vacation in May 2010 in New York City. My husband did return to New York City after 9/11. I have not been back.”
Stan Miller, who titled this photo “Twin Towers in Fog” wrote: “(This) twin towers photo was taken in the spring of 2000 from the Statue of Liberty shuttle boat. At the time I was the president of the Inland Automobile Association (AAA), and was taking a cruise from New York to Portugal with a group of AAA members.”
John Kalb wrote: “I grew up in New York City and have many great memories of the twin towers, from elementary school field trips to the observation deck, to celebration lunches or dinners at Windows on the World, the restaurant on the top floors of the north tower. (This) photo (taken in the 1990s) shows a view from the Brooklyn Bridge. When I would have friends visit from out of town, I would often take them on this walk, which provided a unique experience most tourists do not enjoy.”
Patti Livingstone wrote: “I want to tell you the story of my wonderful friend, Diane Lee, whom I traveled with to NYC in 2000, only 17 months before the towers fell. Diane and I both lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. During this trip to NYC, I think we went to every tourist spot in Manhattan. The attached photo was taken from the observatory deck of the Empire State Building and you can see the twin towers in the background. Sadly, Diane died in 2010 after a 3-1/2 year battle with breast cancer. I miss her terribly and wish I could show her around my new home, Spokane.”
Linda Chamberlain wrote: “My husband (Garry Chamberlain) and I were in New York City visiting his brother who lives in upstate N.Y. The date was June 26, 2001. We were on the Staten Island Ferry when this picture was taken. Pardon the hairdo, but it was very humid…go figure ! It was a magnificent skyline and little did we know that a couple months later that would be changed forever. We are so happy we got to see these terrific buildings and the beautiful city of New York.”
Caryl Lawton (pictured here on the left) wrote: “It was Oct. 6, 1985, my birthday and my friend’s birthday, and we wanted to go to the top of the World Trade Center and have brunch there. We were at Windows on the World. It was fabulous. Planes were flying over the bridges and I remember thinking: We are higher than the airplanes fly.”
Greg Higgins wrote: “This photo was taken (1996) at the WTC Plaza, in front of “The Sphere” and circular fountain at the center of the Plaza (Fritz Koenig was the sculptor who created The Sphere). Very little attention has been given to the loss of that spectacular plaza. From left to right: My sister, Donna Merkeley (Spokane); my sister, Beth Ann Hyland (Portland); my niece, Heather Hyland (Portland); my niece, Jillian Johnson (Spokane) and Mom, Elizabeth Higgins (Spokane).”
Peggy Flaherty wrote: “In August 1992, I was in New York City visiting my son and daughter-in-law. My son, Kevin, was performing on Broadway in the musical “Cats” and his wife, Nicole, was dancing with the Joyce Trisler Dance Company. Since both were busy working, I spent time doing the tourist thing. I ended up at the Twin Towers and took the enclosed picture.”
Photo of Feliciano Valencia. His wife Hazel wrote: “In the summer of 1992, my husband and I were in New York. On the day of our visit (to the twin towers), we took the elevators to the top and walked around and used the viewing station to see buildings and bridges. Val has suffered a major stroke and was confined to a nursing home in Fairfield when the Trade Center was bombed. I told him about it and he looked at me and said, ‘So many bad people in the world.’ “
Sharon Stuart-Reidenbach wrote: “In November 1991, my husband took an item from my bucket list and planned a fabulous trip to New York City. While standing in line for theater tickets, we visited with a delightful, elderly lady from New Jersey. She said, ‘You can’t leave without eating lunch at the twin towers. And ya better dress right or you won’t get in.’ Later we’d experience the truth of her words. “The towers astounded us! Their immense size pierced the sky like watching sentinels over the land. A maitre d’ stood inside in front of the elevators to check reservations for those dining at the top. As we stepped in the elevator, three others tried to board, too. But the maitre d’ stopped them. He explained their attire passed for the bar area but not for the dining room. “The expansive windows wrapping around the room took our breath away. We were so excited, we couldn’t remember what we ate!”
Tami Hicks wrote: “I am sending this photo to you because of the meaning of the photo more than the picture itself. In September 2001, I lived in Sacramento. My friend Ken flew home to New York to visit his parents. He brought his friend, Pete, to see New York for the first time. Ken had never been to the top of the Trade Center. They went on Sept. 10, 2001. They took pictures with a digital camera as the sun went down, not realizing it would be the last sunset in the history of the towers. “Tragically, Ken was killed in a car accident the following September. His parents were waiting in Sacramento for his surprise visit from New York. Life can be cruel. I will always treasure my picture.”
This photo was taken on a tour of Manhattan Island in April 1999.
Patti Nichols wrote: “I was in New York with a group of student artists from Spokane Falls Community College. A group of us went to New York to see the city. We marveled at the architecture of New York, mainly the twin towers. “Stepping off the elevator there were these life-size metal cutout silhouettes of people looking out windows from the observation deck, top floor in one of the towers.”
Boyd Bumpus, pictured here with Dave Blankenship, wrote: “In May 2001, Dave Blankenship, Darren Blankenship and Boyd Bumpus, being in the lighting business, traveled to New York City to attend “Lightfair.” Arriving early on a Saturday, we made plans for touring the city on Sunday, which included The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the World Trade Center. The highlight of the day was standing on the very top of the observation area outside of one of the towers, 110 stories high, and enjoying the spectacular 360-degree views of New York and New Jersey. We never dreamed that less than four months later, both towers would be gone! As we look at these pictures now, it gives us a chill just to even think of that fateful day on 9/11/2001.”
George Buckley, 83, of Spokane, visited the twin towers three times. He worked for The White Elephant store in Spokane and would go to New York for buying trips. He kept the brochure he received at the towers, as well as his ticket to the observation deck, both pictured here.
John Conley took this photo on Sept. 11, 2000, exactly one year before the twin towers were destroyed by terrorists.
Phyllis Stephens wrote: “In 1986, my husband Jim and I and our boys (pictured here on the twin towers observation deck, from left, Tom, Mike, Bill and John) took a six-week road trip around the United States. On the 16th day, we visited the World Trade Center. “This is an excerpt from the journal Mike kept: ‘The elevator went up 107 floors in 58 seconds, that’s faster than the Sears Tower. The view from the top was awesome. Below us, there were two Goodyear blimps.’”
Alice’s late husband, Lyle Domrese, took this photo of the twin towers in October 1999. “We were on our way back on a ferry from Ellis Island when he took the picture. It was a beautiful day and the towers gleamed back at us so beautifully.”
This photo, taken by a New York friend of Betty Ratzman has an interesting back story, reflecting the thousands of non-New York friends who heard from, or reached out to, their New York friends that fateful morning. On 9/11, Betty Ratzman’s high school friend, Doris Shoemacher Davis called her and her husband Dean from her New York City apartment and urged them to turn on the TV to see what was happening. Later, Doris sent this photo and wrote to Betty: “I knew I had to call you. I knew I would awaken you, which is something I would never do under ordinary circumstances, but I didn’t even care. You said, ‘You were among those I chose to call.’ No. you were the only ones I called.’ “
Dennis Ryan wrote: “I took just a few weeks prior to 9/11 from the Staten Island Ferry. The sky was a very ominous looking that day, and coupled with the chain and fencing, the resulting picture appeared all the more menacing.”
Toni Harpel wrote: “I was born in Brooklyn in 1963 and had lived in the New York Metro area until I graduated from college in 1986. I watched the twin towers being built as a young girl. I remember visiting them and traveling through the PATH station that ran under the towers on my way to an internship in the Empire State Building. “I returned to New York many years later with my young family in the summer of 2001 to visit my parents who stilled lived in the area. While we were there we visited the observation deck of the twin towers as well as the Statue of Liberty. It was my husband’s second trip to New York and the first for my children. My oldest son Christopher (shown in this photo) was 3; my twins William and Jessica were 18 month old. “The events of Sept. 11 affected me personally on so many levels. My parents back in New Jersey, my husband (a senior chief in the Navy reserves) deployed for an unknown period of time. I was left at home with three young children, my own memories of a skyline that I had grown up with changed forever.”
Richard Gammon wrote: “My wife and I lived in New Jersey opposite to Manhattan’s 79th street from 1981 to 1998. The twin towers were a particularly attractive venue during our many wonderful visits to Manhattan. We entertained grandparents, other family members and friends in visits to Windows on the World for drinks and hors d’oeuvres and to the observatory roof for a 360-degree view of all the boroughs, New Jersey and the bay. Sadly a wonderful, not to be repeated joy.”
Neil Kurhani, a 1989 Shadle Park High School graduate now living in Burien wrote: “This picture of my brother Dean and I was taken in summer 1980; it was our first trip to New York. Even as a child, I was very impressed with the heights of the twin towers. How they stood out. I remember seeing a small airplane flying lower than the observatory deck. Both my brother and I smiled at each other thinking that was cool.”
Christine Bishop wrote: “In June 1995 my husband and I spent 4 days in NYC en route to Europe. While there we toured and then ate lunch at the top of one of the World Trade Center towers. My husband, Don, is not fond of heights, so he asked me to take photos of the view for him to see when we got home. Then in April 2001 we took Erik, Emily and Grace, our 3 children, to Washington DC, Boston and NYC for Spring vacation. While there we showed them, but did not go inside, the twin towers and told them about our lunch at the restaurant (name escapes me right now) “waaaay up at the top”. “When Grace learned that “buildings had fallen down” her first response was: ‘Some kids’ parents just died!’”
Irene Broderick wrote: “In 1981, on a family trip to New York City, my daughter and son teased me into going to the top of the twin towers with them, in spite of my fear of heights. I remained near the elevator in the center of the top floor and felt weak as I saw my daughter, Renee Keinert, fearlessly lean against the glass of the window as she took pictures of the city for her college photography class. How thankful I am that I didn’t know that June day that 18 months later, Renee would be gone, losing her fight against cancer at age 20, and that 30 years later, the towers would come crashing down from a terrorism attack. For all the rest of my life, my mind will connect that brave girl, and those glorious towers, with innocents inside, and grieve for the senseless loss.”
Elaine Thie wrote: “We went to New York City in 1972 as part of a Labor Day week vacation. Casey and Carole-Lee are brother and sister. Casey found this picture a few months ago and posted it on Facebook. Casey Lafler wrote on Facebook: “1972, to the left me and my two sisters going out to the Statue of Liberty. To the right, my dad took a shot of the twin towers that had just been finished being built. Check out the 1970”s hair and clothes on everyone!” Carole-Lee Winhold responded: “I remember those glasses that you are wearing! I had to always search for them in the backyard after you took them off!”
On top of the World Trade Center, 1998. From left, Kathy Shields, Della Bailey, Joanne Ringwood, Kay Dirks.
Judy Sparrow and Rita Baker stand in front of “The Sphere” at Battery Park in NYC in 2007. The Sphere was once in the World Trade Center complex, was salvaged from the rubble and relocated. Sparrow wrote: “Amazing that this was conceived as a symbol of world peace.”
Susan Sloyka wrote: “In June 2001, nine months after our country’s tragic events, I accompanied my daughter on her school’s 8th grade trip to Washington DC and New York City. As we walked through the World Trade Center site, we were awed by the destruction. “As I took photos of the solemn site, a young man walked up to the fence. I noticed his tattoo “Fear no evil.” I discreetly took a picture. I will always wonder about his Sept. 11 story.”