We Remember

Iconic Photos from 9/11

Twelve years after 9/11, The Daily Beast looks back at iconic photos from the day that changed America.



Most—if not all—of us remember where we were on September 11, 2001, as American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 in the morning. The world watched in horror as smoke billowed out of the building, and then as a second plane hit the South Tower less than 20 minutes later. Not long after, a plane would hit the Pentagon and another would crash in a Pennsylvania field after passengers on Flight 93 confronted their hijackers. The Twin Towers would eventually fall, leaving lower Manhattan covered in debris.

On that Tuesday morning, the four airliners descended out of the clear blue sky to shatter the widespread notion that the American homeland was impervious to large-scale terrorist attacks. The fear, anger, sorrow, courage, and resilience of that day is hard to encapsulate in a few words, but the images captured in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania are an enduring testament. In honor of the 12th anniversary of 9/11, The Daily Beast takes a look back at the iconic photos of the tragedy.

Win McNamee/Reuters

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informs President Bush, who was reading to students at an elementary school in Florida, that a second plane hit the World Trade Center.

Jennifer S. Altman/WireImage via Getty

People frantically flee the area around the World Trade Center before the buildings collapse.

Spencer Platt/Getty

A stunned crowd gathers to watch the Twin Towers burn after two hijacked airplanes crashed into them.

Richard Drew/AP

Several victims fell dozens of stories after being trapped on the upper floors of the Towers.

Suzanne Plunkett/AP

People run from the World Trade Center as the buildings collapse.

Stan Honda/AFP via Getty

Covered in dust, Marcy Borders takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed.

Ernesto Mora/AP

Two women hold each other as they watch the World Trade Center burn following the terrorist attack.

New York Daily News Archive/Getty

Police officer Mike Brennan helps a distraught woman as ash and debris cover the area following the collapse of the North Tower.



Rescue workers carry Rev. Mychal Judge, the fatally injured New York City Fire Department chaplain, from the wreckage of the Twin Towers.

Larry Towell/Magnum

A man picks up a piece of paper that fell from one of the towers.


David Buttons/AFP via Getty

The floor of the Brooks Brothers shop near the World Trade Center was littered with debris after the Twin Towers collapsed. The store was turned into a temporary morgue.

Mario Tama/Getty

A firefighter breaks down amid the chaos of lower Manhattan.

The Record/Getty

Firefighters raise an American flag at the site of the World Trade Center.

Robert F. Butaky/AFP via Getty

New York Gov. George Pataki, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton tour the site of the World Trade Center disaster the day after the attack.

Ron Edmonds/AP

A day after the attacks, a military helicopter takes off after bringing more personnel to the Pentagon.

David Maxwell/AFP via Getty

Investigators search the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 looking for evidence, including the plane's flight recorder, on September 12 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Doug Mills/AP

Three days after the attack, President George W. Bush embraces firefighter Bob Beckwith while standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center.


This image of smoke billowing from the Twin Towers was captured by a U.S. Geological Survey satellite that flew over the region at about 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 11.

Steve McCurry/Magnum

A firefighter is seen climbing a ladder through the blown-out windows of the World Financial Center.

Alex Fuchs/AFP via Getty

The World Trade Center smoulders after the attack.

Steve McCurry/Magnum

The lobby of the World Financial Center after the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Russell Boyce/Reuters

A man braces himself for support against a wall showing photos of missing people outside Bellevue Hospital in New York City on September 16.

Joe Raedle/Getty

People mourn for the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon during a candlelight vigil at Union Square Park in Manhattan on September 14.

Dan Loh/AP

The silhouette of the Statue of Liberty peaks through the haze engulfing downtown Manhattan four days after the terrorist attacks.

Mark Lennihan/AP

In this photo taken on September 4, 2013, One World Trade Center rises above the lower Manhattan skyline in New York.