Friday 24 February 2017

Last remnants of 9/11 consigned to history

September 11 artefacts

PA

A damaged PATH train carriage has been given to the Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston (AP)
A damaged PATH train carriage has been given to the Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston (AP)

The government agency that owns New York's World Trade Centre site is giving away the last remnants it has from the September 11 2001 attacks.

They are stored in a Kennedy Airport hangar where a surviving PATH commuter train carriage that once carried commuters from New Jersey to the World Trade Centre was loaded on a lorry, headed for the Trolley Museum in Kingston, north of New York City.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is giving away about 200 last artefacts still stored in the hangar. That includes a 36,000lb piece of the trade centre's antenna, a mangled police car and a steel beam from which workers cut out crosses and Stars of David.

But perhaps the eeriest items come from ordinary, daily life frozen forever on 9/11: brand new shirts neatly folded on a shelf with price tags still attached, and Victoria's Secret tops on mannequins.

The train carriage was being carried up the Hudson River from New York City, where it will be the centrepiece of a future September 11 wing at the museum.

"When I first saw it in the hangar behind us, it felt like I was opening a tomb; it was very emotional for me, I got goose bumps and I had to hold back the tears," museum director Erik Garces said.

He spent a week after 9/11 as a city transport employee digging for human remains in the smoking, fiery debris left by the two terrorist-piloted jets.

Of the seven carriages on the train, four were crushed. The other surviving carriage went to the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut.

The one leaving the hangar, bearing the marks of 3ft of Hudson River water that flooded the tunnel, "was preserved as it was that morning", Mr Garces said.

Complete with the original 2001 ads, he said: "It's a touchstone to the past, it's more than just a relic. When something is really tactile it brings back emotions and memories that aren't necessarily stirred by just a video or reading a passage in a magazine."

About 200 haunting reminders of the world's worst terrorist attack remain in Hangar 17, in a remote, cargo section of the airport.

The hangar was dubbed "The Tomb of the Unknowns" since none of the initial thousands of items were victims' personal belongings, which were returned to families if possible. Those never claimed are being held by the New York Police Department.

There are also goods excavated from shops in the underground World Trade Centre concourse, including clothing, costume jewellery, a cigarette display case and a sweater sale sign.

The last Port Authority remnants will be distributed to organisations on condition they be accessible to the public. The hangar is to be demolished some time in the future.

The antenna section from the north tower was hoisted on to another truck - a blackened, twisted, wire-strung hulk resembling a prehistoric dragon skeleton. It is going to the Fulton Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, New York, as part of an outdoor garden.

Draping the load strapped to the truck was a banner that read "WTC 9/11 NEVER FORGET".

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