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Inside the FBI's unlikely nerve center for the 9/11 investigation: The 26th Street garage

Preview: "26th Street Garage: The FBI's Untold Story of 9/11"
Preview: "26th Street Garage: The FBI's Untold Story of 9/11" 02:18

Anne Beagan is a retired FBI Special Agent and Special Advisor on the CBS drama, "FBI." Beagan was serving as an agent in the FBI's New York Field Office on September 11, 2001. 

Within hours of the 9/11 attacks, we were forced to quickly identify and then staff an unlikely nerve center for what would become the largest investigation in the Bureau's history.

That morning, we had to evacuate our offices at 26 Federal Plaza — just blocks from the World Trade Center. The offices were uninhabitable, all communications were down in lower Manhattan and we were unsure if another attack loomed.

As the lead investigative agency, we needed to move fast.

Options were limited and the clock was ticking. We settled on setting up shop in the Bureau's automotive garage on 26th Street and the West Side Highway. Cars were pulled out mid-repair, and computers and phone lines quickly installed. We worked on card tables and folding chairs and in some cases, the hoods of cars not yet pulled out doubled as desks. The smell of gas and oil hung over everything. It wasn't ideal — but it worked. It was a nondescript structure, it was secure and a short trip to Ground Zero.


The garage became the focal point receiving all critical intelligence from around the globe, where it was immediately assessed before sending it on to Washington. What was once just a greasy repair shop suddenly became the beating heart of the 9/11 investigation. There were heartwarming moments, too: Martha Stewart had a test kitchen in the same building and she would appear with baked goods to feed the exhausted investigators working 24/7 to identify the hijackers and their sponsors and to head off future attacks.

By 2018, despite rookie agents being required to visit the 9/11 Museum, many still couldn't grasp the full story of what veteran agents had experienced the day of the attacks or in the months that followed. I was then tasked with creating an in-house video to preserve the first-hand accounts of more than a dozen agents who worked on the front lines. 

As they spoke about their experiences during that time, the common denominator of the 26th Street garage presented itself — but because the video was for FBI employees only, I was inspired to create a project detailing this compelling story on a bigger platform for mass consumption.

Now, for the first time, the story is being retold. New interviews, new subjects, never-before-seen footage, and a broader scope including our critical partners will be shared with a public audience. "The 26th Street Garage: The FBI's Untold Story of 9/11," will be available to stream on Paramount+, starting Thursday, September 9.

First day of shooting for "The 26th Street Garage: The FBI's Untold Story of 9/11." Amy Gardner, executive assistant; Susan Zirinsky, senior executive producer; Shawn Efran, executive producer; Anne Beagan, executive producer.  Jon Meyersohn
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