Skip PBS navigation bar, and jump to content.

The Film & More
Special Features
People & Events
Teacher's Guide

spacer above content
Timeline: World Trade Center chronology

1942-2000 | 2001-2002  


Summer: The World Trade Center buildings -- now among the most profitable parcels of real-estate on earth -- are sold to a private landowner, Larry Silverstein, for over a billion dollars.

September 11, 2001

Terrorist attacks on the United States. Timeline of events (Eastern Daylight Time):

American Airlines flight 11, flying from Boston to Los Angeles with 92 people on board, crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, ripping into multiple floors and igniting a massive fire.

Firefighters and emergency crews begin heading for the Trade Center.

Bridges and tunnels leading to Lower Manhattan are closed to all but emergency vehicles.

United Airlines flight 175, flying from Boston to Los Angeles with 65 people on board, crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center, damaging multiple floors and bursting into flames.

The Federal Aviation Administration shuts down every airport in the New York City area.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closes every bridge and tunnel in the New York area.

From Florida, President George W. Bush announces the country has suffered an "apparent terrorist attack," and pledges that the United States will hunt down the responsible parties.

American Airlines flight 77, flying from Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles with 64 people on board, crashes into the Pentagon, in northern Virginia, and explodes into flames.

The Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) halts all flight operations at American airports, and orders every commercial airliner to land immediately, marking the first time in U.S. history that air traffic nationwide has been suspended.

In Washington, D.C., workers are evacuated from the U.S. Capitol and the White House.

The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

An emergency operator in Pennsylvania receives a call from a passenger on United Airlines flight 93, flying from Newark to San Francisco with 45 people aboard, stating the plane is being hijacked.

Damage from the plane crash causes part of the Pentagon to collapse.

United Airlines flight 93 crashes to the ground in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh, heroically brought down by its own passengers after hearing about the attacks on the World Trade Center. Officials later speculate that the plane's hijackers had intended to attack the White House or the Capitol.

In New York City, the United Nations is evacuated.

The F.A.A. diverts all transatlantic aircraft flying to the U.S., sending them to Canada.

The north tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders Lower Manhattan to be evacuated.

With the U.S. military on nuclear alert, President Bush is taken to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

From Barksdale Air Force Base, President Bush states that the nation is taking appropriate security measures, and the U.S. military is on high alert worldwide. He asks Americans to pray for the victims of the attacks and says America "will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts." The President will soon depart for Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

The Pentagon announces that two aircraft carriers, the U.S.S. George Washington and the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, along with five other war ships, are leaving the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, headed for New York.

Mayor Giuliani announces that New York's subway and bus service have been partially restored. When asked how many people he thinks have been killed, Giuliani voices the grief many feel by saying, "I don't think we want to speculate about that -- more than any of us can bear."

U.S. officials say there are "good indications" that Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden, who is suspected of coordinating the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, is behind the attacks.

Number 7 World Trade Center, which sustained massive damage from the collapse of the north tower, is on fire. Everyone in the building has already been evacuated.

The New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, and Nasdaq announce they will not open on Wednesday, September 12.

President Bush returns to Washington from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

Number 7 World Trade Center collapses.

Mayor Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay at home on the next day, Wednesday, September 12.

New York's police department announces that at least 78 of its officers are missing. The city also announces that hundreds of firefighters have been killed.

In a televised address, President Bush says, "thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil" and asks Americans to pray for the victims and their families. The president announces the U.S. government will not differentiate between terrorists and those who harbor them.

Mayor Giuliani announces that the city does not need any more volunteers for the immediate rescue work.


September 12: Four thousand FBI and CIA agents are involved in the investigation. Families report having received "goodbye" calls from loved ones who were victims of the terrorist attacks. All major league baseball games, NFL games, the Emmy Awards, and other major events postponed. For the first time NATO invokes Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that an armed attack on one member nation "shall be considered an attack against them all." Relatives and friends search for survivors in New York area hospitals. Americans across the country line up at blood donation centers. Flags fly at half-staff around the world. The U.S. financial markets are closed. All U.S. airports are closed.

September 13: Family and friends of World Trade Center victims fill out missing person reports at the Lexington Street Armory. Secretary of State Colin Powell names Osama bin Laden as the main suspect in the attacks. Mayor Giuliani estimates the attacks killed over 4,000 people in New York. The European Union declares Friday, September 14, a day of mourning. U.S. airports begin reopening; Boston's Logan and D.C.'s Reagan airports remain closed. U.S. bond markets open.

September 14: President Bush declares a national emergency. The Senate adopts a resolution authorizing the use of U.S. armed forces against those responsible for the attacks. President Bush visits the World Trade Center site. Federal officials release names of the 19 hijackers. Bush declares a "national day of prayer and remembrance." Many Americans attend religious services. Congress unanimously approves $40 billion for emergency aid, including $20 billion for New York. President Bush activates 50,000 national guard and reserve members to help with recovery and security.

September 15: President Bush meets with senior advisers at Camp David. Families of the missing are asked to bring in hairbrushes, razors, and other items for DNA analysis. Funeral services are held for New York City's Fire Department chief Peter Ganci, first deputy fire commissioner William Feehan, and department chaplain Father Mychal Judge.

September 16: A memorial service takes place at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.

September 17: Much of Lower Manhattan reopens for business after a weekend clean-up. The New York Stock Exchange reopens for trading after its longest closing since 1933; the Dow-Jones logs its greatest absolute point loss in history, though not in relative terms. The major league baseball pennant race resumes. President Bush says Osama bin Laden is wanted "dead or alive."

September 18: A moment of silence is held at 8:48am EDT, exactly one week since the first plane struck the World Trade Center. "Reality of the chance of recovering anyone alive is very, very small," says Mayor Giuliani. The New York Stock Exchange rebounds with the help of retail and manufacturing companies.

October: The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and many Lower Manhattan streets reopen to traffic. Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania is sworn in as the first director of homeland security. President Bush signs a new antiterror bill.

November: Estimates of the death toll at the World Trade Center, once as high as 6,500, are revised to fewer than 4,000. Newly appointed homeland security official Tom Ridge requests several billion dollars in funding.

December: Congress authorizes an initial $8.2 billion in aid for New York City. A viewing platform opens at the site of the attack, now known as "Ground Zero." Thousands visit.


January: Essential services are restored to the last parts of Lower Manhattan. The entire district, except for the block directly around Ground Zero, is reopened to full vehicular access.

March: A pair of powerful upward-focused beams of light, located near Ground Zero and representing the twin towers, are trained on the skies each night throughout the month as a temporary memorial.

April: A memorial wall is proposed for the site when it is rebuilt.

May: Workers conclude the recovery effort at Ground Zero. In 8-1/2 months, 1.8 million tons of debris have been moved to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.

May 28: The final girder from the World Trade Center is removed at a somber ceremony, marking the end of cleanup and recovery at Ground Zero.

June: New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council agree on a budget they say will close the $5 billion deficit incurred as an economic aftershock of September 11. Ground Zero remains popular among tourists.

August: Design plans for a new complex at the attack site are rejected and officials issue a request for new designs.

September: The attack on the trade center will cost New York City $83 billion to $95 billion, according to the city comptroller. The number of people dead and missing at the World Trade Center is revised to 2,801, not including the hijackers.

1942-2000 | 2001-2002  

Find out about four centuries of New York history in another PBS timeline.

page created on 8.22.2003
Site Navigation

The Center of the World Home | The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline
Maps | People & Events | Teacher's Guide

American Experience | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe | Web Credits

© New content 1999-2003 PBS Online / WGBH

The Center of the World - New York: A Documentary Film American Experience

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: