Survivor's Shoes Symbolize Distress, Despair

Survivor's Shoes Symbolize Distress, Despair

Linda Raisch-Lopez donated her bloodied, barely worn heels to the Museum. (photo by: Jennifer Finn)

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Linda Raisch-Lopez was wearing a new pair of high heels. About an hour after arriving to her office, located on the 97th floor of the South Tower, Raisch-Lopez heard a loud noise. She and her colleagues looked out of a window to see the North Tower in flames. Still unaware of what had occurred, Raisch-Lopez decided to leave her building. She took off her shoes and began proceeding down an emergency stairwell. Upon reaching the 61st floor, she heard and felt the tremendous impact of Flight 175 crashing several floors above her.

In an oral history recorded with the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Raisch-Lopez recalled that her “body took over” as she focused solely on praying and getting out safely. She came to the concourse level and got onto an escalator before briefly taking in the surrounding debris and destruction.

Raisch-Lopez walked uptown for several blocks before realizing that she was still barefoot. She put her shoes back on and continued walking. When she reached Canal Street, she heard the South Tower collapse.

It wasn’t until Raisch-Lopez was waiting in line for a ferry to New Jersey at the Hudson River pier on 39th Street that another woman informed her of her bleeding feet. Despite visible cuts, Raisch-Lopez recalls feeling nothing.

Her blood-stained shoes remain a powerful symbol of the widespread panic, confusion and numbness that characterize the events of that unfathomable Tuesday.

By Jennifer Finn, 9/11 Memorial Communications and Digital Media Intern