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A crowd of people streamed up Third Avenue and the Bowery, escaping on foot from lower Manhattan. Huge crowds were walking across the bridges between Brooklyn and Manhattan, while other people clustered around police officers near One Police Plaza. So many people in motion created a sense of chaos, yet, surprisingly, calm prevailed. People walked politely, stopping at red lights even when traffic was not running. Many of the crowd wore surgical masks, handed out by a local hospital, or covered their mouths with bandanas or wet towels. Many, many people’s shoes were coated with ash, as were many of the windshields of cars and ambulances screaming up the street. Restaurants and stores had set up water stands on the street. And people — looking spent with their jackets off and covered in sweat — were stopping for water. All of this happened on a peculiarly beautiful, clear day. Robert Eisman, a lawyer with New York City’s Department of Investigation, was coming out of the subway at 1 Chase Plaza at about 10 a.m., when he was told he could not get to his office at 80 Maiden Lane. All around him, he said, he saw people running around in terror. Smoke conditions became very bad, and Chase Plaza was evacuated. “The sky turned from blue to black in seconds. … It was total panic. I didn’t know what the hell was going on,” he said. “Walking on the street was like walking on the moon. There was an inch of soot on the ground.” Greg Smith, a lawyer with Clausen Miller at 1 Chase Plaza, who works on the 39th floor about four blocks from the World Trade Center, said that from his office he could hear continued explosions, and he saw debris and soot everywhere. The authorities would not let people out of the building until almost noon because smoke conditions were too dangerous. “I was scared to death up there. I thought another plane would come in at any minute,” Smith said. He was walking with Jack Eakins, a nonlawyer who works at Unisys. Eakins was on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. “It felt like you were in a car and somebody hit you. The whole building started swaying,” he said. Sounding upbeat, he said his building was evacuated in 20 minutes. Richard Bourgerie, of counsel to Emmet, Marvin & Martin at 120 Broadway, said his building, though pretty far from the explosions, was evacuated as well. He said he was worried about people he knows at Brown & Wood and Harrison Beech, but had not heard anything about them. Nathan Haynes, an associate with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft at 125 Maiden Lane, said he got to his Fulton Street subway stop about three minutes before the first plane hit. He said he saw the flames, then everyone on the street turned and ran. “We didn’t know where to go. … We thought it best to stay inside. You couldn’t breathe. It was too smoky.” So he went to his office. Kelly Huffman and Matthew Kidd are first-year associates with Sullivan & Cromwell at 125 Broad Street. In fact, Huffman just started this week. He said he and Kidd were on their way to the basement of their building for training when they heard the noise. He described people coming out with bullhorns, telling them they could not go back upstairs. People came down to the basement to watch what was happening on CNN, people were outside milling around. Huffman said, “Most people were calm.” Kidd observed, “It’s surreal more than anything. You’re outside, you hear all these rumors, you don’t know what to believe.” There was no damage to Sullivan & Cromwell’s offices or the building at 125 Maiden Lane. A group of lawyers from Reynolds Richards at 67 Wall Street, about one-third of a mile from the the towers, said their building was also fine. Chris Gerard said he was just coming out of the World Trade Center subway station when the first plane hit. “It sounded like a heavy truck on the road. I initially thought, ‘It must be a bomb.’” Managing partner Dennis Zagroba was in his office. “We could hear the buildings collapse,” he recalled. “It looked like the middle of the night.” WALK TO ARMAGEDDON Dov Kleiner, a lawyer with Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, explained that his firm had managed to evacuate before the second explosion that preceded the towers’ collapse. Nearby, a group of four students from New York Law School, Nanette Aridas, Kelly Lerner, Yadhira Gonzalez, and Joshua Sanders stood discussing the attack. The students reported that one of the planes had flown directly over their school. Lerner and her boyfriend, Sanders, said they were among the lucky ones. After the blast, Sanders raced to find Lerner, who was going to buy a new suit for her upcoming interviews and was in the World Trade Center at the time of the first plane’s impact. They found each other, but not before Sanders saw people jumping from as high as the 20th floor in an attempt to escape the carnage as the ground shook below them. As he pulled out cigarettes and shared them with his classmates, he shook his head and said, “It was not a pretty sight.” Aridas was not as fortunate — she did not know the fate of her husband, who worked at the World Trade Center. Offered a cell phone so she could try to locate him, her friend Gonzalez said simply, “At this point, I’d rather not know.” Alan Chorne, an attorney with offices at 150 Broadway, said that as he exited the subway, he could see the smoke billowing through the area. He said when he was informed of what had just transpired, he had a “sense of relief that it was a plane.” He was afraid it could have been a terrorist bomb attack and that there could be more bombs. As the ground started “shaking like crazy,” Chorne said he thought, “I’m going to die. Please make it quick.” Merryl Snow, an administrative law judge for the Parking Violations Bureau’s Manhattan Help Center, located near the sight of the attack at 66 John Street, said that the entire area was black with smoke. She said the “soot was like snow.” Father George Rutler, a volunteer chaplain for the fire department who also serves as chaplain for a New York bar organization, was at the scene. He gave the last rites of the Catholic Church to firefighters as they went in to fight the fires. A fellow priest, Fire Chaplain Gunn, was killed. Father Rutler said that the disaster “made the movies look like child’s play.” Unlike many disaster scenes, there was no screaming, no blood, no gore — only quiet. A bus sat in the street, burned to its frame. And documents littered the ground — trade orders, memos, letters, and charts. Amidst Lexis and Westlaw printouts, a fax cover sheet on the letterhead of a major New York firm and a torn contract was a woman’s shoe. With no subways, taxis or buses available, Andric Severance, a musician and part-time rickshaw driver peddled some workers north back to the unscarred streets of Manhattan. Leaving SoHo, he passed a church with a sign reading, “Peace on Earth.” This story was reported by Allison Frankel, Nathan Koppel, David Horrigan and Monica Bay of American Lawyer Media.

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