99th Floor


The 99th Floor

by Elsa Bonstein


(I wrote this article several years ago for the Brunswick Beacon on a 9/11 anniversary) 


It was Camelot, Cinderella’s Castle, and the Land of Oz all rolled up together.  It rose 107 stories into the heady skyline of New York City.  

My husband worked there for 8 years from 1980 to 1988.  His office was on the 99th floor of the North Tower.     

But the World Trade Center was more than a set of office buildings.  It was a place where people gathered.  Some came to work in offices, to make important decisions, to climb the corporate ladder.  Others came to cook and clean.  Thousands came just to look at the wonder of it all.       

Our kids were small back then and on Saturdays when my husband had to work, we often drove to the City with him.  

My children knew the grand open spaces, the dizzying heights, the whooshing, clanging elevators like other children know their back yards.  

They stood on the observation deck looking down, down at the streets.  They stared out and around at New Jersey, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Queens.  The Statue of Liberty was a small green toy and great ships were tiny models trailing v-shaped wakes in the blue-green waters of the Hudson River.  

I was a fledgling writer in those days and in 1986 I wrote a poem for my children about the wonderland we so often visited.  It went like this:  

My father works on the 99th floor

Of a building so tall, 

You can’t see it all.  

It’s too far to walk

All the way to the top.  

The elevator ride

Makes my tummy flip flop.  

The windows of his office 

Are the most fun for me. 

If I stand by his desk 

I can look out and see…..

Buildings of glass 

Of stone and concrete

Places to work 

And places to sleep, 

Boats on the rivers

Cars on the bridges

Way off the distance, 

Mountains with ridges, 

Cars like fingernails, 

People like ants!

Oh!  I’m ever so glad

That I had the chance

To visit my Dad on the 99th Floor!

And what’s more?  


It is all gone now, taking 2,8039 lives with it.  Countless families were decimated, lives ruined.  Businesses were in rubble, confidence in our system was shaken.  

But more than that, we lost our wide-eyed idealism, our core belief that things will come out alright in the long run if we try very, very hard. 

The Twin Towers were a symbol of what humans living in a free society could accomplish.  

We must not forget that dream.  

It may take another form.  It may happen in another time, but the dream must remain.    




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