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This week in history: Terror hits home

When the World Trade Centers fell on Sept. 11, 2001, Chicagoans locked down and exited buildings, unaware if another attack would land. Here’s a look at what happened in Chicago and on the ground in New York City.

People at O’Hare International Airport watch the events of September 11, 2001, unfold on a television at the flight arrival information board in Chicago.
People at O’Hare International Airport watch the events of September 11, 2001, unfold on a television at the flight arrival information board in Chicago. The board shows most flights as canceled.
Tom Cruze/Chicago Sun-Times

This week marked the 19th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

So much more information is now known about the attacks, but when they first happened, Chicagoans had no idea if another attack would occur. A Sept. 11, 2001 article from the Chicago Sun-Times recalls the immediate action the city took to shut down.

“In Chicago, the city shut down the Dirksen and Kluczynski Federal Buildings, the Hancock Center, Thompson Center, the Daley Center, all major museums, and the Sears Tower was evacuated voluntarily,” the report said. “The state Capitol in Springfield also was shut down. Trading was suspended at the markets in Chicago and in New York.”

All planes at O’Hare International Airport were grounded, the report added.

“They evacuated the United States Capitol,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who was a freshman senator at the time, said. “I never thought I would see that day.”