As part of our Historias initiative, StoryCorps’ MobileBooth East is currently recording the stories of Latinos and Latinas in the city of Chicago. As usual, we’ve been treated to a wide range of great narratives, from immigration stories to tales of romance. However, one story has been truly one of its kind. As a participant in both our Historias and September 11th Initiatives, Michael Doyle, a blogger and mass transportation advocate, came to share his 9/11 experience, an experience that eventually brought him to Chicago.
Born and raised in Queens, Michael never envisioned living anywhere but New York. He grew up loving the bustle and can-do attitude of his hometown, never cared to learn to drive, and as an adult felt he could never feel at home elsewhere. The traumatic events of September 11, 2001 changed that.
Participating in StoryCorps’ September 11th Initiative, open to those who wish to record their memories of 9/11, Michael recounted his experience on that day. He remembered finding out that a plane hit the North Tower while on a train from Brooklyn to Manhattan and slowly coming to grips with what was unfolding as he came into work in Midtown. With poignant detail, he described the scramble to get off the island of Manhattan and the arduous, anxious walk to safety in the outer boroughs, a walk carried out by tens of thousands of people. After leaving for work the morning of September 11, Michael did not make it back to his apartment until September 13. By then, New York was a city in deep trauma, littered with flyers with the pictures of persons missing, and on the verge of profound changes.
According to Michael, he was deeply unsettled by the security build-up that ensued after the attacks. He noticed that, little by little, New York became what he saw as a fortified city, with more security cameras and machine gun-toting police. Despite the upsurge of pride and solidarity that permeated the city after 9/11, Michael was disturbed by a new sense of fear and suspicion.
This new New York made him uncomfortable, and he moved to Chicago in 2003. Michael said that it took him years to pin down just what had driven him out of the city and what attracted him to Chicago, but now he knows that Chicago has afforded him the sense of community and vitality that he had lost in New York – even if he still refuses to learn to drive a car.
Click here to learn more about StoryCorps’ September 11th Initiative, done in partnership with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. To read Michael’s account of his StoryCorps experience, visit his blog, Chicago Carless.