9/11 Stories: Terence Monahan


Terence Monahan eventually became the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the NYPD, The Chief of Department, the second-highest-ranking officer in the entire NYPD, second only to the Police Commissioner. On September 11th, Monahan was a precinct Captain in Washington Heights, right by the George Washington Bridge.

His most vivid memory of that day was coming to the decision to close the GWB to traffic. The bridge is controlled by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Little did Captain Monahan know that some of the decision-makers were not responding to his calls because they had died during the attack. Their offices were in The World Trade Center.

Eventually, the decision was made: no vehicles allowed in either direction on the bridge, which links New Jersey with NYC. Thousands of New Jerseyans who worked in New York City had to walk across the bridge to make their escape from Manhattan. Many had walked 15 miles, all the way from The World Trade Center to find NYPD officers lining the GWB, helping them across.

One of the top concerns for Captain Monahan on 9/11 was that the George Washington Bridge itself could become the next target. He remembers having discussions on whether a truck bomb could bring the bridge down. From that day on, and continuing into today, no trucks have been allowed on the lower level.