Two days ago, we marked the 29th anniversary of the first attack on the World Trade Center. At 12:18 p.m. on February 26, 1993, a small cell of terrorists detonated approximately 1,200 pounds of explosives in the North Tower's underground garage. The bombing created a five-story crater, 150 feet wide and filled with 4,000 tons of rubble, in the sub-grade levels of the towers, also undermining the floor of an adjoining hotel. Six people were killed in the attack: Port Authority co-workers Robert Kirkpatrick, Stephen Knapp, William Macko, Monica Rodriguez Smith and her unborn child; Windows on the World employee Wilfredo Mercado; and John DiGiovanni, a visitor who had parked in the garage. More than 1,000 others were injured.
Moments before the bomb’s blast, at his office in midtown, William (Bill) Lynch was on the phone with his brother Pat, who worked at 2 World Trade Center, when Pat interrupted suddenly and said he had to go. Bill next read an incoming news bulletin about an explosion in the vicinity of the Twin Towers. He and his coworkers initially assumed a faulty gas line or transformer had exploded. Thankfully, his brother Pat had safely evacuated.
In the aftermath of the attack, Bill noticed the appearance of several posters around Soho and the West Village, where he lived. All bore the tagline: "New York. Still standing tall." One of them, affixed to a mailbox, caught his eye in particular. It read: “ATTENTION TERRORISTS: If you really wanted to instill fear in New Yorkers you should have done something before Steinbrenner came back.” Referencing the surprise return of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner from a two-year suspension, this imperturbable New York response motivated him to remove the poster for posterity.
He recalls that the poster seemed “to capture the attitude of defiance in the city at that moment in time.” Bill had accidentally torn the right edge a little bit while removing it, and the slightly tattered appearance reminded him of the bomb's impact: it had left a wound mark, but the Twin Towers were still standing tall. Recently, Bill donated the poster to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Of this new acquisition, Dr. Jan S. Ramirez, the Museum’s Chief Curator, notes, “Our collecting has always been attentive to the two terrorist assaults targeting the World Trade Center, eight and a half years apart. The enormity and tragic finality of the 2001 attacks may have eclipsed the precursor strike, but the 1993 bombing was lethal and shocking. The sentiments infusing this grassroots poster campaign (and we’d love to learn more about its origins) deflect fear with wry, contemporaneous New York City humor. But some — including investigators of the blast, security personnel at the World Trade Center, and others working at familiar landmark addresses – were not calmed into dismissing the bombing’s implications. “
With the 29th anniversary of the bombing fresh in our memories and the Yankees' first spring training hopefully coming soon, we share the back story of this quintessentially New York ephemera.
By 9/11 Memorial Staff