PHOTOS: East Coast Earthquake Sends Strong Warning Messages
Children embrace after being evacuated in New York, following an earthquake that struck the East Coast of the United States,August 23, 2011. A strong 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the U.S. East Coast and was felt as far away as Canada on Tuesday, shaking buildings in many cities, delaying flights and trains and sending thousands of frightened workers into the streets. Reuters

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake in Virginia on Tuesday was felt in New York City and beyond, prompting temporary evacuations and triggering terror-related anxiety -- as any unsettling event in NYC or Washington, D.C. is bound to do.

The earthquake -- with an epicenter in Mineral, Va., not far from Washington, D.C. -- rattled the eastern seaboard just before 2 p.m., and an aftershock was felt in Virginia about an hour later.

The 9/11 attacks on Washington and New York almost ten years ago compounded the anxiety and confusion felt by East Coast city dwellers unaccustomed to seismic events.

Many who were at work hastily evacuated after feeling the earthquake rattle their office buildings.

My desk started to shake, so then everybody on the floor decided to evacuate. We didn't know what it was, but we said let's not take any chances and just leave the building, one Manhattan worker told NY1.

Some who were working in the Empire State Building descended dozens of staircases in order to make it down to presumed safety.

I felt dizzy, man, Adrian Ollivierre, a 28-year-old accountant with an office on the 60th floor told The Associated Press. I thought I was having maybe a heart attack, and I saw everybody running. I think what it is, is the paranoia that happens from 9/11, and that's why I'm still out here - because, I'm sorry, I'm not playing with my life.

I ran down all 60 flights. I wasn't waiting for the elevator, said his colleague, Caitlin Trupiano. We were just counting the floors as we came down.

Another employee working on the 54th floor of the Empire State Building mistook the earthquake for an unnatural event. I thought we'd been hit by an airplane, Marty Wiesner told the Associated Press.

Although most Americans associate earthquakes with the West Coast, Virginia is not an unexpected location for an earthquake, John Ebel, director of the Boston College Weston Observatory, told The Boston Globe.

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake shook Giles County, Va., in 1897, and a 4.3-magnitude earthquake hit the state eight years ago, the Boston Globe reported.

A 2.6-magnitude earthquake was felt in some NYC neighborhoods just six weeks after 9/11, on Oct. 27, 2001. That earthquake shook hundreds of residents from their sleep and sent them into the street in fear of a second terror attack.