Remembering 9/11 – 10 Things to Know About the Attacks on America

The Beautiful 'Tribute in Light' Memorial Beams Two Columns of Light into the Sky from Ground Zero, New York. This Picture of the 2004 memorial is by Wikipedia user Tysto, and is in the public domain

This year marks the 18th anniversary of 9/11, a day that for many people still holds a very vivid image of death, destruction, and disaster. While the World Trade Center Complex has been rebuilt, the field in Pennsylvania has grown back, and the Pentagon has been reconstructed, the attacks have left a lasting effect on people around the world. Below are ten things to know about the 9/11 attacks.

Ground Zero

Many people have seen the image of the firefighters raising the American flag on the site of Ground Zero, just hours after the attack. Today we commonly refer to the World Trade Center’s location as Ground Zero, but it is not the first site to carry this name. Ground Zero initially began being used to describe the location of detonations of atomic bombs, namely, Trinity Site in New Mexico, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

World Trade Center site following the attacks, Sept. 2001. Wikipedia / Public Domain
World Trade Center site following the attacks, Sept. 2001.

Three Locations

New York City is what comes to mind when you think of 9/11; this is likely due to all the media coverage it received. But there were two other locations involved in the attacks that day, a field in Pennsylvania (which saw a plane crash into it) and the Pentagon.

United 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa. Hijackers had originally intended to crash the plane into either the White House or the Capitol, but passengers onboard the plane had learned of the hijackings in New York and tried to overtake the plane which led to it crashing in Pennsylvania.

The Pentagon was hit by a plane at 9:37 a.m. and suffered severe damage, collapsing in some spots. It took the plane under a second to penetrate through all of the Pentagon’s rings, which is about 310 feet in length. The crash sent a fireball into the sky, estimated to have been 200 feet tall. The portion of the building that was struck was recently renovated at a $250 million price tag.

The Pentagon saw a portion of the building collapse, following the attack.
The Pentagon saw a portion of the building collapse, following the attack.

Plane Engine

The Twin Towers each saw a jetliner crash into them, and through all the initial strike, the fires, and the collapse… an engine from one of these planes managed to survive. It is believed to be from United 175 and was found blocks from Ground Zero.

Art

One thing many people don’t think about when considering losses in 9/11 is art. About $100 million in art was destroyed during the attacks. Famous artists whose works were lost in the attacks include Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein.

Skyline of Manhattan with smoke billowing from the Twin Towers following September 11th terrorist attack on World Trade Center, New York City. Sept. 11, 2001.
Skyline of Manhattan with smoke billowing from the Twin Towers following September 11th terrorist attack on World Trade Center, New York City. Sept. 11, 2001.

Cantor Fitzgerald

Cantor Fitzgerald is a financial firm which lost over two-thirds of its workforce in 9/11. The business had its corporate headquarters on floors 101-105 of the trade center with the antenna pictured above. It suffered the largest loss of employees that day, far exceeding any other business, government office or enterprise. None of Cantor Fitzgerald’s employees that were in the tower that day survived the attack. In total, 658 employees of the firm died. The company only employed 960 total at the time.

Twin Towers seen in March of 2001. Jeffmock / Own Work / Wikipedia /
Twin Towers seen in March of 2001. Photo: Jeffmock / CC BY-SA 3.0

Three Buildings

Three buildings actually fell on 9/11 in New York. Obviously, the Twin Towers are the main ones, but 7 World Trade Center, a smaller tower, also fell that day. The building suffered heavy damage when the Twin Towers fell, and caught on fire. At roughly 5:20 p.m. on September 11th, about eight hours after the Twin Towers fell, 7 World Trade Center collapsed. The building had been evacuated earlier in the day. Thus there were no casualties from the collapse. Other buildings in the area were damaged.

7 World Trade Center seen on fire following the collapse of the Twin Towers. Wikipedia / Public Domain
7 World Trade Center seen on fire following the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Economic Impact

  • It is believed to have cost the attackers over $500,000 to plan and coordinate the attack
  • $750 million was the cost to clean up Ground Zero
  • More than $120 billion was estimated to have been lost total in several sectors including the airline industry, tourism, etc.
  • More than $40 billion in insurance loss
  • It’s estimated the attacks led to $60 billion in damage to the World Trade Center Complex and the subway systems that lie beneath it
  • Led to the war on terror, which had cost the U.S. more than $1.5 trillion as of 2014

United 93

United 93 flight path. Wikipedia / Public Domain
United 93 flight path.

United 93 took off from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, NJ around 7:30 a.m. and was flying to San Francisco. Just 46 minutes into the flight, four hijackers had overtaken the plane. They had several targets in mind, the White House or the U.S. Capitol.

Several of the passengers got word from relatives that other planes had been hijacked, and so passengers onboard United 93 decided it would be in their best interests to try and take over the plane.

United 93 crash site. Wikipedia / Public Domain
United 93 crash site.

United 93 made it into Ohio before it made the turn-around to head to Washington, D.C. Some time after this happened, passengers onboard attempted to take over the plane. Some believe that the passengers were able to breach the cockpit, while others say they came close to getting in the cockpit. The plane was crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, resulting in the death of 40 people (44 if you include the hijackers). The story of United 93 was made into a movie, which was released in 2006.

Steel

In total, there was 185,101 tons of steel at the World Trade Center Site. A large majority of this steel was actually sold following the clean-up of the site. China and India were the major buyers, with Chinese company Baosteel buying over 50,000 tons of the steel. Any unsold steel would later be used for memorials in all 50 states.

A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center.
A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Death Toll on a Terrible Day

2,996 people died in the attacks on September 11, 2001. This includes 2,977 victims as well as 19 hijackers. There were more than 6,000 injuries reported as well in relation to the attacks. Below are the death tolls from each location.

  •  World Trade Center: 2,606
  • American 11 ( New York): 87 victims. Five hijackers.
  • United 175 (New York): 60 victims. Five hijackers.
  • The Pentagon: 125 victims.
  • American 77 ( Flew into the Pentagon): 59 victims. Five hijackers.
  • United 93 (Pennsylvania): 40 victims. Four hijackers.