9/11 Pictures That Reveal The Tragedy Of America’s Darkest Day

Published July 13, 2023
Updated August 8, 2023

In the deadliest terror attack in history, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001. These 9/11 pictures capture the tragedy.

9/11 Pictures Of Towers Smoldering
Distant View Of World Trade Center Smoke
Ash Covered Man Lies Down In Deli
Ash Covered Woman Covers Her Face
9/11 Pictures That Reveal The Tragedy Of America’s Darkest Day
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On September 11, 2001, the United States experienced the worst assault ever carried out on American soil and the deadliest terrorist attack in world history.

In the span of just 102 minutes, both of New York's World Trade Center towers collapsed after planes hijacked by Al Qaeda operatives crashed into them. According to CNN, the attacks in downtown Manhattan that Tuesday in September left 2,753 people dead. That number rose to 2,977 with the assaults on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and the plane that went down outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Thousands more were left injured, trillions of dollars of damage was done, and America would never be the same. The War on Terror would soon begin and the whole world eventually felt the effects of the fallen towers.

9/11 Pictures

BETH A. KEISER/AFP/Getty ImagesFire and rescue workers search through the rubble of the World Trade Center's collapsed towers two days after the attacks.

It all started with those tragic 102 minutes on that clear, late summer morning in New York. Revisit that tragedy with the arresting 9/11 pictures above, which represent the wide spectrum of horror, heartbreak, confusion, and courage of that traumatic day.

The Devastating Terror Attacks Of September 11, 2001

Even after seeing the most powerful 9/11 pictures, the true scope of the chaos is difficult to convey.

It all began at 8:46 a.m. when American Airlines Flight 11 — hijacked by five Al Qaeda operatives on its way from Boston to Los Angeles — crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. At the time, people weren't sure whether this was an accident made by an amateur pilot or due to some sort of malfunction, but that confusion would soon cease.

A CBS News segment showing the south tower being hit on live television.

As the North Tower's crash site smoldered and smoke wafted across the sky, the world's media kept its cameras trained firmly on the buildings. Then, at 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 — also traveling from Boston to Los Angeles — crashed into the South Tower. By this point, it was clear that New York City was under attack. By whom, or why, would remain a question for some time.

"Boom! Boom! Just like that. The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now ― with somebody ― and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives. It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy."

Hunter S. Thompson

American Airlines Flight 77 traveling from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., tearing a massive hole into the side of the building. Just 22 minutes later, the unimaginable happened back in New York City: In around 10 seconds, the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed into its footprint — reducing 110 stories to rubble forever.

A live report by Eyewitness News ABC7NY as the Twin Towers begin to collapse.

United Airlines Flight 93, meanwhile, crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania a few minutes later. The San Francisco-bound flight had been hijacked by four Al Qaeda terrorists after departing Newark, New Jersey.

The damage had already been staggering, but things were about to get even scarier. At 10:28 a.m., the North Tower collapsed. Tower 7, said to be plagued by such intense fires that it gave out and buckled, collapsed at 5.21 p.m.

As the 9/11 pictures above clearly show, it was the deadliest day in American history.

The Aftermath Of The Attacks And The 9/11 Pictures That Remain

President George W. Bush learned of the attacks while attending a reading at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. He addressed the nation on live television that night, stating that the government "will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." The seeds for the War on Terror had been planted.

Three days later, Bush stood among the rubble as well as New York's firefighters and first responders, assuring them that the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks would not be forgotten:

"I can hear you! I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!"

Soon, the U.S. would begin launching its strikes against terrorist groups and other suspected enemies around the world, with Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries eventually facing American military action. It's unknown for certain how many people have died in the ongoing war that has spanned 2001 to the present, but one 2018 study from Brown University put the death toll as high as 507,000, with 244,000 of them civilian.

Meanwhile, the economic impact of 9/11 was astonishing. While the estimated cost of planning and executing the attacks themselves was around half a million dollars — cleanup and response costs were far greater, with $123 billion the estimated losses during just the first month post-9/11.

September 11th Photos

Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Getty ImagesFirst responders run away from the smoke, debris, and ash shooting down Manhattan's streets after the buildings' collapse.

The World Trade Center site suffered $60 billion in damage on September 11 while a $40 billion anti-terrorism package was approved by Congress on September 14. Nearly $10 billion in insurance claims stemming from the attacks were filed.

In terms of Ground Zero and the actual cleanup there, the work didn't end until May 30, 2002. It cost $750 million to remove 1.8 million tons of debris — and 3.1 million hours of labor to do so. In the end, untold scores of haunting 9/11 artifacts were retrieved from the rubble.

The total cost of the attacks is estimated to be more than $3 trillion.

"Never before in our history has America asked so much over such a sustained period of an all-volunteer force. So I can say without fear of contradiction or being accused of exaggeration, the 9/11 generation ranks among the greatest our nation has ever produced, and it was born — it was born — it was born right here on 9/11."

George W. Bush

But no figures can truly capture the size of the tragedy. Perhaps the images of the towers that fell and the people who were there to bear witness can begin to convey the horror. Witness the historic devastation for yourself in the gallery of 9/11 pictures above.

After experiencing the most harrowing 9/11 pictures, see the tragedy of "The Falling Man" who died that day. Then, delve into some of the conspiracy theories about 9/11.

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Margaritoff, Marco. "9/11 Pictures That Reveal The Tragedy Of America’s Darkest Day." AllThatsInteresting.com, July 13, 2023, https://allthatsinteresting.com/9-11-pictures. Accessed April 21, 2024.