Christopher Briggs Young wasn’t usually at the World Trade Center. Weeks before Sept. 11, the aspiring actor took a temporary job at the Midtown office of the global professional services firm Marsh & McLellan. That fateful morning, he was delivering materials to his boss for a presentation at the World Trade Center.
He arrived at the North Tower at about 8:25 a.m., received a temporary ID badge at security and met his boss on the 99th floor. After quickly dropping off the materials, he transferred to an empty express elevator on the 78th floor to return to Midtown.
Shortly before reaching the lobby level, the elevator shook, the lights flickered and the car stopped. A hijacked commercial airliner had crashed into the building, hurling through the very floors that he had just departed.
Oblivious to the attack, he alerted building personnel that he was stuck. Growing bored, he sang songs from “Man of La Mancha” and recited monologues.
Just over an hour later, Briggs Young felt a rumbling from the ground below and a fine dust filled the elevator. Curling into a ball, he pulled his shirt over his mouth as the dust thickened. Boredom became panic and he started to claw his way out of the elevator.
“It’s just a very strange dichotomy that in one way the elevator was protecting me,” Briggs Young told a 9/11 Museum curator. “But then in the other way…it was not letting me get away from the danger.”
He ultimately pried open both sets of metal doors, emerging into the lobby that he described as “an alien land.” He crawled out of a blown out window and made his way out of the building. A few blocks away, he heard another rumbling as the tower he had escaped moments before began to fall. He ran for his life and made it to safety.
Years later, Briggs Young met with 9/11 Memorial Museum curators to tell his story and donate the temporary ID badge that he had saved. Now on view in the museum, the badge tells the story of his survival.
By Jenny Pachucki, 9/11 Memorial Content Strategist