Tonight, I will deliver my first solo Lower Manhattan tour with Ghosts, Murders, and Mayhem Walking tours. It is the final route for me to learn, and kicks off my third summer season with the company! I love giving ghost tours, and I’m so excited and grateful to be a part of bringing history and chills to tourists and locals alike!
As such, I would like to share with you an eerie occurrence from my last turn down in Lower Manhattan, when I was joined by my boss to evaluate my readiness for tonight (I passed, obviously, by the way). It contains sensitive details and concerns 9/11. It gives a little insight into the type of work that I do.
One of the stories I tell on my Lower Manhattan tour is the real-life account of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, as told by firefighter John Morabito. John was the driver for Ladder Company 10, across the street from the World Trade Center. Thanks to what he describes as a series of miracles, John survived the day unscathed and even managed to save the lives of others that day. He delivered a 40-minute, very moving, and quite disturbing interview opening up about that day.
Telling his story is frightening. Especially to locals. Everyone was affected by this, and nobody more so than the people who watched it unfold right where they lived. As I re-told John’s story to my first-ever audience, I noticed everyone blinking fast behind their sunglasses. With my back to the Brooklyn Bridge and facing the new Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center, I felt my own eyes burn and my voice quaver as I tried to convey with utmost sensitivity, the tragedy we all knew too well.
As I finished the story, I paused for a moment of personal silence, then reached down for my lantern. When I looked back up, I saw a fire engine had pulled up right behind my group. About to announce the irony, I noticed the number painted on the side: a big white 10.
My hands began to shake. I handed my lantern to my boss and grabbed her arm. “Look,” I pointed out the engine to her. She raised her voice to address the crowd, “Oh look at that – “
“No,” I hissed, “Look at the number.”
She fell silent for a moment. Then:
“Did you look at the driver?”
But by now, the engine was pulling speedily away as traffic had begun to move up and over the Brooklyn Bridge. Had we had more time to inspect, there was a good chance we would have seen John Morabito himself, the man who believed in miracles, nearly within earshot of me telling his story of miraculous survival, not knowing what to believe in, but feeling as though there was more out there to believe in than I could ever have believed.