Airports boosted security and communities across the country remembered the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Sunday. But the somber milestone hit especially close to home on Hollywood’s Young Circle.
That was where the lead 9/11 hijackers — Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi — were spotted at an apartment and bar just four days before they commandeered and crashed passenger jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York City.
Neither the bar nor the apartment where Atta and al-Shehhi spent time exist anymore, but people who live or work around Hollywood’s business district remember them all too well and continue to recoil from having unwittingly hosted the lead terrorists in the 9/11 tragedy.
“It’s a little strange that they were down the block from where I work,” said Nicholas Chicka, a manager at Mama Mia Italian Ristorante, around the corner from the old Shuckums Oyster Bar at 1814 Harrison St., where Atta and al-Shehhi are said to have spent $48 on drinks early on Sept. 7, 2001.
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More significantly for Chicka is that a woman who worked at Shuckums, and now works at Mama Mia, told him that she served drinks to Atta and al-Shehhi. But she was not working Sunday, and Chicka declined to identify her.
“She told me that she heard them laughing, saying that all Americans were stupid and dumb and they’re going to find out tomorrow, and obviously people were drunk so nobody paid attention to it, but I guess somebody should have paid attention to it,” he said.
Atta and al-Shehhi showed up at Shuckums, within walking distance of the building — now demolished — at 1818 Jackson St. where they presumably shared an apartment just before the attacks.
They had a few drinks at Shuckums, played video games and, according to witnesses at the time, argued with a waitress and a manager over the $48 tab.
Shuckums was replaced in 2003 by Harpoon Harry’s Raw Bar and Grill, and by 2011 it was Saeur Apple Saloon martini lounge. Now the property is shuttered, with a sign advertising Strawberry Cream.
Some of the people at nearby businesses Sunday said they did not know the story of Shuckums and the hijackers, but felt the impact of them being so close.
“I’m emotional about this, just thinking about it, that the terrorists were at Shuckums,” said Hana Besedova, the Sunday brunch DJ at Mama Mia. “I get goosebumps just knowing this.”
The apartment building where Atta and al-Shehhi were once seen together at1818 Jackson St., Apt. A3, was demolished in 2010. Today the area is a quiet, leafy street dominated by The Mediterranean at Young Circle apartments.
On Sept. 7, perhaps after their Shuckums interlude, Atta flew from Fort Lauderdale to Baltimore, according to the 9/11 Commission report.
“By then, al-Shehhi had arrived there, and Atta was seen with him at his hotel,” the report added.
Early on Sept. 11, 2001, Atta and his team of hijackers boarded American Airlines Flight 11 in Boston. Al-Shehhi and his team of terrorists boarded United Airlines Flight 175, also at Boston.
Atta and his hijackers struck first, taking control of Flight 11 after 8 a.m., and then at 8:46 a.m. it was crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Al-Shehhi and his group seized Flight 175 next, crashing it at 9:03 a.m. into the south tower.
Two other terror teams hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon; and United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed into an open field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, when passengers tried to wrest control of the aircraft from the hijackers.