Remembering 9-11 in Newark

Seven years ago today I was a student at Rutgers-Newark, living and working in Parsippany, which was the closest I got to Newark that day. I was getting ready for work minutes after news that the second airplane had struck the World Trade Center came across the radio.
It was the unease in the 95.5 morning crew’s voices that stopped me in my tracks. They hadn’t said the headline clearly since I’d started listening, so I had to wait as they reacted with concern and distress. After a few minutes, I’d heard what had happened and told my roommate on my way out the door to the office.

Those who had heard about what was now being described as an attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and were clustered around the few radios we had on the office floor. I parked in my cubicle and pointed my browser to, refreshing the page over and over.

The web servers groaned under the spike in traffic, revealing only portions of the front page. At shortly after 10 o’clock, the headline changed to note that the South Tower had collapsed and the first image I’d seen of the destruction appeared across the screen.

The CEO send out a communication that our staff at WTC had all been fully accounted for, but that the company was closing for the rest of the day. I walked out of the building to find a friend walking up the street towards our building, seeking me out. I gave him a lift back to his place and drove to my wife’s — then, girlfriend’s — place to connect with family and listen to the repeated news reports on the radio and TV, anxiety firmly taking hold.

Classes at Rutgers-Newark were canceled that night. The R-N status page had indicated that campus was closed for September 12, and then later re-opened and attendance required. I thought that was crazy, but found out weeks later that the intention was to provide a forum for the commuting students to attempt to make sense of the unfolding events.

I avoided campus that day, too afraid to step foot back into the city where I’d only been a student for a few months, and where smoke was still visible on the horizon.

Newark grieved for its neighbors on September 11th as the destruction unfolded in the Manhattan skyline, clearly visible to the east. The Path train connecting the two cities, from Penn Station to World Trade, was completely disabled. Millions spent hours trying to reverse the commute on foot that had taken them into New York.

Three years later, and just two months after my wife and I moved into the Ironbound, the distance between Newark and New York would feel even shorter as buildings across New York City and the Prudential Headquarters building were placed on alert as potential terrorist targets. Concrete barriers are erected around Pru and police in riot gear brandishing sub-machine guns were deployed to Broad Street. It was a forceful reminder of the newly uncertain times in which we live, for a city that already seen so much adversity.

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

5 thoughts on “Remembering 9-11 in Newark”

  1. yes.. a poignant day.7 years ago, i left the Colonnade on a cross-town bus in Newark, seeing people on the street looking at the WTC with a plume of smoke in the distance. The pa system on the bus announced that all transit to NYC was halted. I got to work at Shabazz High School about 10am. The staff told me we were under attack and just then, I heard fighter jets overhead. I went outside and then heard the kids yelling out.. a tower was collapsing in view of all the students. As a social worker, we then spent time in the cafeteria talking with students about the chaos, randomness, and uncertainty. No one knew who would come home among the many whose parents/friends/etal travelled via the WTC. Our only tv was a staticy UHF en espanol, so no one could view tv to catch up with the latest. The tv aerial on the WTC was down.
    coming home was surreal what with Army jeeps around downtown and at the Newark Broad St station.
    The days thereafter a bit of blur as my cable at home played the endless CNN, BBC, etal reports. And, then all the anxiety trying to catch up with those who were missing. One of my neighbors was in the World Financial Center, across from the WTC that day. She had walked in the plaza to get away, passing the smashed bodies of those who had fallen/jumped, and had almost been hit by someone who had crashed down maybe 10 feet from her. She was alive but in a waking daze for several months.
    om mani padma hung


  2. Due to this tragic event, there was at least 1 nice thing. I met the man who later became my husband on this day among all the hub-bub that day. NO trains were workign and he walked me to my destination.


  3. I remember the exact spot and moment when I heard the NPR morning news reporter’s strange voice about some unidentified fire that had erupted at the World Trade Center. I was on the steep stretch of I-280 driving my son to his school. An hour or so later, the reporter obviously lost his mind, “One of the towers is collapsing… It is the beginning of World War III….” The Reichstag Fire of the Third Reich on February 27, 1933, and the loud speakers of Beijing anouncing the beginning of the Cultural Revolution on June 6, 1966, were two events in my mind at the moment; “The world is at a major trajectory!” I am not a believer of any conspiracy theory, but the tragedy has been cynically used to turn the world into a hell for many, many people. History will tell.


  4. I was reading this post and it took me back to the that day. I wasn’t in Newark at the time, but was working in NYC. Originally I had decided I wasn’t going to write about 9/11, but I ended up posting my story because it is still so vivid in my mind.


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