The day we can’t forget: Sept. 11, 2001
Real estate industry reflections on the 10th anniversary of 9/11
Editor’s note: Inman News reporter Andrea V. Brambila assisted in compiling this report.
The first time we visited the World Wide Web. The call to bring down the Berlin Wall. The elation of the first moon landing.
The assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Pearl Harbor.
These are events that shape generations. In our thinking, our actions, our culture. Our government. Our future.
I awoke on Sept. 11, 2001, to a distressed phone call from my Mom. “It’s horrible.” I was still spiraling out of sleep, and this just wasn’t making sense.
“What’s going on?” I asked. Something big.
Nothing felt safe in that instant. I recalled how years earlier, during a cross-country adventure with a few friends, we toured the public observation deck in one of the Trade Center towers and marveled at the epic and breathtaking view. Gone.
All of us, even those not directly touched by the loss of friends and loved ones were impacted, too.
Sept. 11, 2001, was the most significant globally historic event in my lifetime since the symbolic crumbling of the Cold War, when people chipped away chunks and pushed down whole sections of the Berlin Wall. And how different those events were.
Earlier this week I was talking with my best friend, a schoolteacher, about how 9/11 changed the U.S. How it changed us. We pondered whether the youngest generation is somehow different, in mindset and even behaviorally, having grown up in a post-9/11 environment. And whether the changed security environment has significantly impacted our daily lives and outlook.
I’ve still got a tourist trinket from that New York City visit years ago — it’s a tiny copper-hued metal model of the Trade Center towers that my kids will no doubt ask about. And I’ll have to explain what it is and what it means to me. And what that day means for all of us — even those of us too young to remember.
Inman News reached out to our readers and columnists and asked them to reflect on the impacts of 9/11. This report also includes reader commentary from the September 2001 Inman News archives, and links to real estate-related articles about the anniversary. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
“Because of the magnitude of the tragedy, 9/11 is one of those unforgettable moments that I will remember the rest of my life. I will never forget where I was and what I was doing. It became a day that I was glued to the TV trying to understand exactly what had happened, and what it might mean for our future. But I also remember how good it felt to see our country come together.
“Even today, when I read accounts of what happened in New York, it becomes a very emotional moment, reliving the accounts of heroism and the suffering. I pray for the victims and their families, and hope we never experience an event like that again.”
President and CEO
ERA Real Estate
“I was in a meeting in Ohio when I heard the news. Time seemed to stand still, but my mind started racing with worry: for my friends and neighbors who worked in the city, for my family in N.J. I drove home in a rental car — because the airports were closed — and was struck by the absolute absence of planes in the sky, and a pervasive stillness that hung everywhere.
“When I got home, I witnessed the American spirit in action, watched how we all banded together and worked to support our friends, families and neighbors through such a difficult time. Our separatism disappeared: Differences were erased as we focused on the grief we shared and learned that we were more similar than we thought. At the time, we seemed more united than ever before, but 10 years later, we seem to have lost the strength we found in each other.”
Cherry Creek Properties
“I lived in Washington, D.C., on 9/11 where I watched my friends and neighbors wait for news about loved ones in the Pentagon and on airplanes. We huddled together and watched the Pentagon burn, wondering if it was the beginning of the end. Business didn’t seem very important.”
Gerald Bushnell, owner-broker, Ace Realty Inc.
“My wife and I sat in front of the TV in disbelief as we watched the brutal attack in our coma-like state. The first tower was on fire and no one knew why. After many minutes went by we watched in horror as the second plane crashed into the adjoining tower. We continued to watch all day as the towers collapsed and listening to the news about the other airplanes crashing in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon.
“We were the owners of Ace Realty Inc. in Dallas, Texas, a small but successful real estate company that specialized in selling condominiums. I had just received a shipment from China of Sign Boots, an invention I had created that cleans dirt off the sharp tips of metal real estate signs.
“The National Association of Realtors’ convention was taking place the following week in Dallas and I had a booth set up and ready for the thousands of Realtors that would be flying in to attend the convention. The convention opened their doors as planned only without the thousands of Realtors.
“Many committed nearby Realtors drove to the convention, but Realtors that lived outside of the area were unable to jump on a plane because flights were canceled. Besides, no one wanted to leave their families and homes to travel during this troubling time.
“Real estate sales slowed. September, October and November were the worst sales months for the year, and in December business started back up again.
Joseph Chris partners
“All of the 9/11 stories and pictures make me feel like it was just yesterday. My stomach has that wrenching feeling and tears start to swell up as the memories come flooding back.
“Ten years ago (on Sept. 11) I was on a business trip in Philadelphia. Our flight was to leave on 9/11 after our last appointment. Standing in the middle of a Starbucks I heard the unbelievable news. Someone rushed to get a tiny TV so that we could watch what was happening.
“The bridges and highways were shutting down — threats of bombs were everywhere. We saw the first tower had been hit, assuming like most that it was an accident, and then saw the second plane fly directly into the second tower and then couldn’t take our eyes off of the TV — even as the towers fell and the news reports (announced) that we had been attacked by terrorists.
“I recall a woman running out of the Starbucks hysterical because her son worked in one of the towers, and countless others having relatives or friends who would most certainly be somewhere in or near Ground Zero.
“Thankful that the rental car was still in our possession, we made the quiet trip across Pennsylvania, Ohio and back home to Indiana. Every time I see that bright blue fall sky I can’t help but remember that day and how it forever changed our lives.”
San Diego Castles Realty
“Sept. 11 was a dichotomy for our family. My husband was three days into a six-day backpacking trip in the Sierras. While he was enjoying the freedoms we have so long celebrated, unaware of the events unfolding, those of us who remained connected feared for those same freedoms.
“As I readied my then-middle school children for what should have been another routine day, my oldest daughter said, “Look, Mom. New York is on fire.” No time for television, I told her. We would be late. Perhaps foolishly, I deposited them in front of the school as the second tower came down.
“For me, Sept. 11 marks a day of remembrance — remembrance of both heroes and ordinary people who would be driven to do extraordinary things in the face of adversity. It is a day when I pause to reflect on how precious are the freedoms that we take for granted and that from acts of hate can be born true united communities of tolerance and compassion.
“As for my husband, he emerged from the wilderness two days later to have another backpacker on his way into the park recount the story, a story my husband initially discounted as some lunatic’s rantings.
“And when he finally confirmed the events, my husband too was left with a renewed sense of the importance of family and community — and renewed sense of national honor and pride.
Lisa Ludlow Archer
“I can remember exactly where I was. In a high-rise working at a big bank in uptown Charlotte. My dad was flying from Boston to (Los Angeles). I didn’t hear from him till late that afternoon. (It was the) scariest, and a life-changing, day. He quit his 30-year career in computer consulting and got his real estate license.”
“Where was I on 9/11? Well, this was before my days as a real estate agent. I was working in the tech industry for Microsoft. I was flying from Japan to Seoul, South Korea, for a new product launch when it happened.
“The vice president of my division and myself arrived at the hotel in Seoul at about 11 p.m., and turned on the TV to witness the Trade Centers collapsing. Obviously it was a night of watching CNN and checking on things at home.
“Our product launch the next day went on as planned, with some heartfelt comments by the Microsoft vice president. We ended up being trapped in Seoul for about five days, waiting for the international flights to start back up and eventually getting our spot on a flight.
“Strangely, I think we got back home sooner than a lot of domestic travelers, but it was a surreal trip, with not much to do other than hang in our hotel room and watch the newscasts from back home.
Entrust IRA Administration Inc.
“On 9/11, I was in my senior year of high school. My older brother lived in New York, and when the second tower was hit, a teacher pulled me out of class to his office so we could call him.
“It turned out he was OK and had somehow slept through the whole thing. Eventually, school was let out and I sat with my parents glued to the TV. The next day was my 18th birthday, which I spent eating pizza and cake while contemplating joining the military with a few gung-ho friends.”