I was in the World Trade Center 14 months before the attacks.
I didn’t want to tour the World Trade Center AT ALL! My mother insisted.
“So let me get this straight. We are going to pay $11 dollars per person just to go to the top of a building them come back down?” I asked, somewhat sarcastically to my mother as she cringed while looking around my NYC apartment for a mug. I had scored an internship with Ralph Lauren corporate making a sweet $8 an hour and was living in the East Village with 2 bitches…ahem…..girls.
2 hours later my mom, and my then 16 year old sister took the metro South. For anyone who doesn’t know, the twin towers were located in the very Southern tip of Manhattan in the financial district. If you want a frame of reference, this would be where a lot of Wolf of Wall Street would have taken place. I never went down there as a 25 year old as it was pretty boring to me. I wanted to be in the action of the lower or upper East side.
It was about 9:30 a.m. and we were starving. We hit up Burger King that was across the street from the World Trade Center (South) then with all of our will power avoided Century 21, a discount, designer brand store located on the East side of the towers.
We walked into the tower designed for tourists and it seemed so worldly to me. I looked up, around, forward and even down. Flags from all the nations hung in the lobby. Large open windows allowed natural sunlight to pour in. Everything seemed silver and clean. We walked over to checkin and I reluctantly handed over $15 to be given $4 in return by a bored attendant for my ticket to the clouds.
I can’t remember the process of the elevator, I just remember starting to freak knowing how high we would have to travel. I had the same anxiety 2 years before, traveling up the Eiffel Tower in Paris like “shit, we are going really high up. The elevator could totally snap.”
Unlike the Eiffel Tower elevator, the World Trade Center elevator was pretty steady, swaying occasionally. Once we were on the observation level, I didn’t regret the $11 fee. I was suddenly awestruck on what we could see. I saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I saw North, all the buildings we had passed to get down there. I saw New Jersey. I felt like a bird that could see everything. This was freedom. This was peace.