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September 2011

Remembering the Marriott WTC Hotel on 9/11

Like many flight attendants and pilots, the place where I spent my layovers in any city became my second home. In the mid-90s, almost 20 years into my flying career, I was lucky enough to have layovers in New York City near the World Trade Center. It actually seemed that the Vista Hotel, which eventually became the Marriott, was part of the World Trade Center. It was wedged so closely between the towers, I felt I could reach out and grab a coffee from the office workers in the building outside my hotel window.

My first layover in New York City was in 1991 and I had close to 20 more in 1995 and ‘96, all of them at the WTC. My last layover at the Marriott World Trade Center, or as it was immortalized in film, The 9/11 Hotel, was in March 2000.

I’m almost embarrassed to say it was the only part of New York City I felt I knew well. It’s easy to get lazy when you’re working all day at altitude and the area around the Marriott provided enough entertainment that I didn’t venture any further. There were great delis and restaurants close by, plus fabulous shopping at Century 21. And of course, the incredible twin towers of the World Trade Center. Regardless of how many times I stood outside and gazed upwards, two things would happen: First, I’d be struck by their incredible height and architectural majesty. And second, I’d be struck by the helpfulness of busy office workers, more than one of whom would always stop to ask me if I was lost. So much for the urban myth of rude New Yorkers.

After 9/11, I felt particularly bereft, having lost not only members of my greater aviation family but a place that had felt very much like home. Watching TV, and seeing my “office,” a Boeing 767, flying into the twin towers was a shock that still reverberates.

I remember where I was when I first heard the news – driving to an appointment shortly after nine in the morning. As the radio broadcast that a small aircraft had accidentally flown into one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City, I looked through the windshield of my car to the sky above. It was a perfect September day in Toronto – clear blue sky dotted with a few fluffy clouds. I supposed that the weather in NYC was not much different. As I recalled the New York skyline that I was familiar with, I couldn’t imagine any airplane “accidentally” hitting one of these giant structures. A few hours later, we all knew it had been no accident.  As the days wore on, I thought a lot about the Marriott Hotel and the people who worked both there and in the World Trade Center. 

Though many tales have been told about 9/11, on this 10th anniversary you might find it almost uplifting to revisit that day through the film about the Marriott Hotel WTC .

© 2011 – 2013, Heather Zorzini. All rights reserved.

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