The Collapse of the World Trade Center: Learning from Urban Disasters

Zimmerman, R.
(with C. Restrepo, doctoral candidate at NYU Wagner), in Natural Hazards Research & Applications Information Center, Public Entity Risk Institute, and Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems, Beyond September 11th: An Account of Post-Disaster Research. Special Publication #39. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado, pp. 49-80.

The collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, was one of the worst urban disasters in the history of the United States. Almost 3,000 people perished as a result of the disaster. The economy was dealt a severe blow, the consequences of which are still felt today. When the World Trade Center was first built, its approximately 1.25 million square meters of office space accommodated about 40-50,000 people (Extreme Events Mitigation Task Force, 2002, p. 52). The number of telephone lines installed in the towers was similar to that found in cities such as Cincinnati or Copenhagen1. The collapse of the World Trade Center raised a large number of research questions related to understanding what happened on that day,
why the buildings collapsed, how agencies and individuals responded to the event, how civil infrastructure systems were affected, and how the lessons learned can be used to prevent similar disasters from happening.

Wagner Faculty