I live in a brownstone in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, about four miles from the towers, as the crow flies. My wife and I were both home when the attacks began, and we could view the fires from our apartment. She saw the second explosion live on TV; moments later, the sound hit us.
From the roof of our building, I could see all of lower Manhattan as the two towers burned; people on nearby rooftops with binoculars were shouting that they could see people jumping. I'm glad my own binoculars weren't that strong.
I was back in the apartment when the first building collapsed, creating a sustained, sickening roar. I returned to the roof, not knowing or being able to imagine that the entire tower was leveled. All of lower Manhattan was shrouded in thick dust; I didn't see how anyone there could breathe. I shouted down to my wife that I couldn't see the towers. She had been watching on TV and knew what happened: "You mean the tower!" Shortly thereafter there were none.
All day, the wind blew the dust and smoke directly over our neighborhood; a lot of people on the street wore dust masks, although we got along OK without them. Ten hours after the attacks, charred pieces of paper were still floating down on our building and our block.
It was made all the more strange and horrific by how bright and beautiful the day was. After being turned away from donating blood at the local hospital, Carrie and I just drifted through the neighborhood. People walked on the main business street as if on a strange holiday, eating ice cream and pizza as the volcanic plume rose from Manhattan and floated above our heads. As I write this, I keep turning my head and looking out the window, thinking that if I just blink, the tops of the towers will reappear. Talk about magical thinking.
(I don't know many NYC magicians, apart from Igor [Mitrovic], with whom I've been performing for the last two months; he's OK.)