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July 2001 photo underneath the World Trade Center Twin Towers

9/11 - 20 years later

By Michael Butler

The 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City is this week. The tragedy simply known as 9/11 claimed 2,996 lives.

Below is an excerpt from the Sept. 24, 2013 edition of Tallassee Times regarding my trip to the Towers less than two months prior to Sept. 11, 2001.


Part of our day would include the Top of the World Tour at the World Trade Center. This was a recommendation from one of those NYC travel guides.

The Essential New York described it, “Take the gravity-defying elevators that zoom up over 100 floors in less than a minute to the 107th-floor observation level of the World Trade Center and continue to the rooftop for a view across Manhattan, and beyond, from 1,350 feet up.”

2001 photo (left) at the World Trade Center and the remains of the iconic globe as it looks today in New York City

We purchased our tickets for $13.50 each and made our way through the masses of people in the financial district to the top of the towers with fascinating views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.

The twin towers, completed in 1973, were home to 50,000 who occupied the buildings on a daily basis - strangers to us.

Fast forward to September 11, not quite two months after our trip to the Big Apple. At 8:46 local time in New York, a Boeing 767 crashes into the North Tower. 17 minutes later, another jet hits the South Tower.

We know of that day all to well now. 

What puts things into perspective for me is that there were those like me who were lining up to purchase tickets on a beautiful September morning to get those same views of Lady Liberty. I guess it’s fate that our vacation was in July and not September, or that these terrorists took 54 extra days to carry out their sick acts.

Construction on the Freedom Tower began in 2006. The modern marvel of architecture is 104 floors high. The tip of its spire rises to 1,776 feet. 

I was able to visit the construction site last year. It is magnificent.

What is the site of one of America’s greatest tragedies is now a landmark for a modern masterpiece.


9/11 is a day that all of us now remember. You remember where you were when you heard about it, ala the generation that remembers the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the generation that recalls the bombing of Pearl Harbor. FDR said it best - and it now applies for all of the above - "a day that will live in infamy."

The Freedom Tower now stands in the footprint once occupied by the WTC Towers and dominates the New York City skyline