Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"As Remnants Collapse, Workers Run For Cover," by Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times, Sept. 13, 2001

In Peter Duveen's [pduveen's] hard-copy archive of New York Times and New York Post articles, a Times piece by Jennifer Steinhauer from September 13th, stands out for its startling depiction of World Trade Center damage. In it, she describes the collapse of a sizable remaining portion of Tower 2's frame and infrastructure late on the afternoon of September 12th, left standing more than 24-hours after the first tower had been reduced to a dust cloud about 10:00am on the eleventh.

Were it not for this single-source reference---apparently submerged somehow within the public record for the past seven years---the fact of a two-stage collapse, which created a similar massive dust cloud of smoke and debris the next day, would remain "officially" unknown, since no document or report comments on it, to my knowledge. This important detail, which could speak to how and why the steel-framed tower collapsed, would then have been, after the passing of the last live witness to it, extinguished.

Pre-titled, AFTER THE ATTACKS: AFTERSHOCKS; "As Remnants Collapse, Workers Run For Cover," Steinhauer writes,
"The stalagmite remnants of the fallen World Trade Center towers collapsed entirely yesterday, sending rumbling debris and clouds of smoke billowing again through Lower Manhattan and prompting rescue workers to flee from the site of the destruction. Officials declared a zone of roughly eight more blocks in the area unstable.

City officials confirmed last night that the steel and concrete wreckage of the south tower, which had been toppled in a terrorist attack, and 5 World Trade Center, felled in the aftermath, crumpled to the ground in the late afternoon.

Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen said last night at a news conference that engineers were busy inspecting neighboring buildings in response to reports of a crack in 1 Liberty Plaza, the 64-story high rise. That plaza has sustained structural damage, but officials said last night that although they had not determined the extent of the damage to that building or others on Liberty Street, they did not believe that it was in imminent danger of collapse.

All day yesterday, rescue and emergency workers battled through the destruction, confronting ruptured gas lines, raining debris and constant rumors of other buildings said to be weakened from the attacks.

''This is a very dangerous rescue effort,'' Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said last night. ''The men and women who are doing it are literally putting their lives at risk.''

The fragile search and recovery efforts were hampered intermittently for several hours, and precautionary evacuations led to moments of panic among rescue workers. Police and emergency workers in the areas around the destruction barked into their radios, arguing with pedestrians trying to cross barriers and telling them that more and more buildings were unstable.

Officials also said yesterday that it did not appear that the residential buildings in Battery Park City had sustained structural damage, but the city was still assessing those buildings to decide whether to allow those who have been evacuated to return.

The seeming aftershocks began about about 5 p.m. yesterday, while workers ploddingly cut through twisted steel and heavy forklifts moved rubble across the plaza in front of the fallen towers. Firefighters and police officers were standing around, gazing toward the clouds of gray smoke wafting up from the jagged heaps of wreckage. Nearby, workers had set up a triage center near the World Financial Center.

First came a rumble, and then one firefighter yelled: ''That part will go! We are waiting for it to collapse.'' Moments later, the remaining floors of the south tower of the World Trade Center fell to the ground in a heap of rubble.

Rescue workers and medical personnel bolted up Broadway and Church Street away from flying debris, concrete and smoke as ambulances began to scream from all directions, responding to the new collapse.

''Everyone started running,'' said Jonothan Schwartz, a Red Cross worker from Rockland County who stopped at last at Canal and Broadway. ''We were told there was more danger of another building falling. Everyone ran and ran -- kept going and didn't look back.

''I started running, and I didn't look back,'' Mr. Schwartz said. ''And I'm not going back. I'm going home, because it's too dangerous here.''

About the same time, the city's engineers yesterday expanded a safety zone around buildings that they believe had a greater chance of collapsing than earlier believed. Emergency personnel were temporarily evacuated from several blocks surrounding 1 Liberty Plaza at the southwestern edge of the World Trade Center.

Frantic calls to the police and Fire Department workers came from all directions, with reports of swaying buildings at John Street and the intersection of Greenwich and Liberty Streets.

Over at the West Side Highway, hundreds of people, frightened of falling debris, raced south, away from what they believed to be a collapsing building. They pushed past police barricades and dodged rescue equipment that was hastily being thrown into reverse. Many searched for a car to dive behind.

Firefighters and police officers led the stampede, struggling to race along streets thick with dust, empty water bottles, bits of metal and wire. Firefighters in heavy bunker gear yelled at colleagues, who stood looking toward a rolling pillar of smoke to move. ''Get out of here!'' screamed one investigator. ''Run! Run!''
The effect this safety hazard had on the surrounding rescue activity, both as an impending collapse, and then as it gave way, recreating the Pompeian conditions that existed the previous day of September 11th, needs to be completely reexamined.

Steinhauer starts off by saying officials "declared a zone of roughly eight more blocks in the area unstable," implying a major new limitation to rescue activities. Additional "precautionary evacuations" upset already "fragile search and recovery efforts." Ultimately, "the city's engineers yesterday expanded a safety zone around buildings that they believe had a greater chance of collapsing than earlier believed."

Steinhauer and her editor "fail the record" by neglecting to mention the approximate height of the secondary portion of the structure left to collapse that day---egregiously, since a mention is made of a nearby undamaged building, as being "1 Liberty Plaza, the 64-story high rise." That such a major event as this is so little known---if it is described, or cross referenced at all in the written record---is significant enough, but when combined with a total lack of photographic evidence, things become disturbing indeed.

Just as in the total absence of photographic evidence depicting the south face of Building 7 in flames, or simply unobscured by smoke even; or of any images depicting any fire in the fully engulfed 90 West Street, the historic Cass Gilbert tower just south of the complex, whose copper Mansard roof was burned through, one can surmise that rather than the "most photographed event in the history of the world," a strict site lockdown and control were in effect.

To my knowledge, only one image in the record depicts what may be this lower structure of Tower 2, unobscured by smoke. It appears out of the fog like a holy lignam in one of a series of extremely high-resolution shots taken by an apartment dweller, Aman Zafer, shots from his home along the Hudson river shoreline in New Jersey. I have always assume the picture was photoshopped to obscure something, which seems taller than the # 2 World Financial Center building in the foreground.

The Zafer vantage point was ideal to witness and record the events of September 11th. I hypothesize that the entire apartment complex site was developed with the eventuality of this day in mind, with only government-operative controlled lessees facing the river at least.

The image series contains some of the most unambiguous evidence extant showing destruction by a new method of weaponry---in which we see dense molecular matter like steel literally vaporizing midair into a distinctly colored dust. This technique was one of several other methods employed to destroy the towers.

In the image below, we can see snapped steel sections still maintaining a cross-check shape as they fold while turning into clouds of dust.

In Steinhauer's memorable phrase "the stalagmite remnants," of airborne steel are seen as dustifying before our eyes.


  1. Thanks for this. I actually have a hard copy of this edition of the Times, and have long meant to give it a thorough review. I had skimmed it a couple years a go and found some intriguing stuff but have been too lazy/busy to put it together.

    True the article is maddeningly vague. But I disagree about the mechanism of destruction being "new"-- all evidence points to small nuclear blasts. Also, I don't think that large of a remnant was left from WTC2 -- the Zafar core section fell shortly after the rest of the tower.

  2. Well, we may have to get ourselves a fireman who is willing to tell us the truth. I think it's still a little early for that.