Volume 22, Number 27 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 13 - 19, 2009
From our Archives
“The man washing windows outside the 110th floor”
By Arline Klatte
November 8-21, 1994
Roko Camej, 53, had been washing windows at the World Trade Center for 20 years, and had a nice tan to show for it when Downtown Express profiled him 15 years ago. “I like my job. I don’t bother anyone and no one bothers me,” he said while smiling. “Except when you people come.”
Camej began fielding press inquiries about his job in 1975. Some journalists from Germany even asked if they could take pictures of him washing his own windows at home.
Camej emigrated from Albania to the U.S. with his pregnant wife in 1969, and she had their baby girl the next day. When he started working at the W.T.C., he told his wife he worked inside so she wouldn’t worry about him, but his cover was blown when he appeared on Channel 7 and in the Daily News.
The majority of the windows at the W.T.C. were cleaned by automatic window washing machines that traveled on stainless steel tracks, which took 20 minutes to travel down a floor and another 10 minutes to travel back up. Two men traveled with the machine to make sure it functioned properly. The windows at Windows On the World, the restaurant on the 107th floor, had to be hand washed because the panes were too narrow for the machines.
“To me, this is normal,” he said while pointing to the round domes atop the World Financial Center. “When I started working here, there was nothing. Now it’s a beautiful small city. We have to be careful not to drop anything. A penny dropped from here would kill someone.”
Before the 1993 W.T.C. bombing, Camej was on the 107th floor and it took him four hours to get out of the building.
“There were so many people in the stairs, I thought they’d find us all like roaches the next day,” he said.
Prepared by Helaina N. Hovitz