I work in the Chrysler building, across from Grand Central. I was packing to go home when I heard what I thought was thunder but the grumble didn’t subside. The lights dimmed for a second. The noise continued, grew louder even, and I thought that it was perhaps a piece of HVAC equipment on the roof of the building next door. I looked out my window and saw maybe 100 people running along 42nd St towards Third Avenue, looking over their shoulders, as if chased by something. I lived downtown that day. I had that feeling again.
I ran out of my office (not grabbing my cell phone) and shouted ‘does anyone know what’s happening? The head of the firm ran by and said “the building next door blew up, evacuate the building.” I decided not to go back for my cellphone.
How long do you think it takes to run down twelve flights? 100 seconds? 120 seconds? When the building is shaking and there is a sound you associate with a building collapsing, it takes forever. Women were kicking off their shoes. They opened the loading dock onto 43rd St. We expected to see clouds of dust, but there weren’t any. We ran to Third Avenue, and I could see an enormous cloud, larger than a building. But the cloud was white. People were taking photos with their cellphones. Some people were covered with specks of mud.
I got home an hour and a half late, that’s all.