Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A 9/11 memorial in front of lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center. Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

When the first plane hit, I was in a ride-share van going down the FDR Drive on the East Side of Manhattan.

  • The first thing I noticed was paper. The most ordinary, yet extraordinary, stream of glittery paper — photocopies, memos, restaurant menus, the stuff that was always on your desk in the early aughts — falling from the sky in a hideously gorgeous plume.

We all thought it was an accident. At the corner of Water Street and Beekman, my ride-share van came to a gridlock halt, and we dispersed for the cavernous buildings where we made our livings.

  • A guy sweeping the street in front of One State Street Plaza, where I worked on the 26th floor, told me that a small plane had accidentally hit one of the towers, but it was all O.K.

It was not.

After I got upstairs, I gathered with colleagues at at the window where we normally congregated to watch the Yankees' victory parade on lower Broadway.

  • There, I saw the second plane veer crazily around the 2nd tower and bash itself deliberately into that building, extinguishing untold lives and creating another sudden inferno in what had been a placid lovely late-summer view.

We gasped and fled.

Everyone immediately understood that people were flying airplanes into buildings. And we were standing in such a building.

  • Instinctively we raced to the elevators, which was clearly a bad idea from an emergency management POV. Everyone I saw from that point on had the exact same ashen grimace that radiated abject fear.

I called my mom from the pay phone at a McDonald's across the street — we didn't all have cellphones then — to say that I was OK and would walk home (which was about seven miles). After that, all the phone service went down in lower Manhattan.

  • As I passed the New York Stock Exchange, I thought, "I hope they don't hit it next while I'm standing here."
  • The gridlocked cars on the street, windows open in the warm sunlight, were all blaring news radio 1010 WINS, from which I learned that the Pentagon had been hit, as well as something else about Pennsylvania.
  • As I walked north toward my home and my young children, I knew I would have to pass close to the Empire State Building and the United Nations and wondered, "What do I do?"

The towers fell as I walked through City Hall Park, a modest greenspace next to this city's homely municipal buildings.

  • I watched the Twin Towers collapse into a heap of rubble. It only took an instant. It looked like the cascading of the tiers of a wedding cake.
  • This killed a lot of people. (The death toll at the World Trade Center was 2,753.)
    • Some I knew: Banking analysts whom I used to interview for articles; a classmate from high school.
  • Each and every firefighter who braved forward on the emergency vehicles whose sirens I heard blaring through the gridlock died that day after entering the buildings to save people.

The funerals would continue for weeks and feel omnipresent. My mind pictures the firefighters who survived, standing at attention to mourn their colleagues, their faces crumpled in a visage of unmanageable grief.

  • I stopped at a bodega to buy water, and the line was already out the door. New Yorkers instinctively know how and when to hoard things.
  • I saved my dusty, filthy "9/11 shoes" for years — the ones I wore when I walked home.

When I reached my apartment, the normally quiet neurosurgeon who lived next door was standing in the hallway, traumatized. "I just saw people jump to their death," he said over and over. "People were jumping out of buildings!"

It's been 19 years, the calendar tells me. It feels like yesterday.

Go deeper

18 mins ago - Health

FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Dave Lawler, author of World
19 mins ago - World

Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”

Exclusive: Law enforcement organizations back Biden pick for assistant AG

Vanita Gupta Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Local and federal law enforcement officials are backing Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, according to letters sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Major County Sheriffs of America noted Gupta “emphasized that she does not support efforts to ‘defund the police'” and highlighted her desire to improve criminal justice through methods that include increased training for law enforcement officials.