I lived in New York City... or rather, Jersey City... just across the Hudson... but a few short years before 9/11. The towers were an everyday reality for me. They were a sort of compass as you traveled through Jersey or Manhattan... towering above everything else as a great beacon. My wife and I were dating at the time and we took any number of pictures of each other with the towers in the background...
We regularly walked through the World Trade Center after having taken the PATH train from Jersey under the Hudson into Manhattan. The scale of the buildings was immense and tens of not hundreds of thousands disembarked from the PATH into Lower Manhattan through WTC and up the stories high escalator every day. We often sat for lunch at Trinity Cathedral... one of the oldest churches in America (with tombstones dating to the 1600s)... in the shadow of the towers.
As the tragedy unfolded, we had friends in New York and New Jersey who we were unable to make contact with for days. Some in New Jersey had sat upon the roof of the building I had lived in not long before and watched as people jumped from the towers before they came crashing down covering the whole of the area in clouds of black smoke.
I had just begun teaching a few short years earlier in Cleveland, and was out of my school on a scheduled meeting with the whole of the arts faculty. As the meeting began, the news started to trickle in. Some teachers began to desperately attempt to call loved ones in NYC from their cell phones. Many were in tears. Flight 93 was still in the airspace over Northeast Ohio near Cleveland and the order went out to evacuate downtown and all office buildings. I was living in a studio-apartment downtown, but left the city for the suburbs until later in the afternoon. School was cancelled the next day, and I later found out that during the event students had been sent home under emergency evacuation conditions.
Just 2 short hours after the event gas stations were charging in excess of $5... $6... even $7 US per gallon at a time at which the going price was hovering around $2. The mayor sent out notice than any such price gouging would be treated as "war profiteering" and the proprietor would lose his or her licence to operate and be tried appropriately. Unfortunately, not all politicians were adverse to utilizing 9/11 for personal gain. I was absolutely sickened by the manner in which some wrapped themselves in the flag and used 9/11 as an excuse for all manner of things under the motto, "If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists".