In an airplane hangar at New York’s Kennedy Airport, fewer than 30 pieces of steel remain from the debris recovered after terrorists flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
Even 14 years after the attacks, applications are still pending for the pieces of metal — mostly for memorials and museum exhibits — and some pieces found a new home as recently as last week in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida. The Tri-Cities’ memorial was dedicated in 2011 at the Southridge Sports Complex in Kennewick.
Here’s a look at what has become of the relics of the World Trade Center:
How much steel?
Beginning in August 1968, builders used 200,000 tons of steel to build the World Trade Center complex, enough to raise the twin towers to heights of 1,362 feet (south tower) and 1,368 feet (north tower). Out of 1.8 million tons of debris removed from the site after the attacks, recovery workers collected 840 pieces of steel, some of which were cut up to make a total of 2,200 separate items. They ranged from 6-inch slabs to massive beams to the 7.5 tons the Navy used in the construction of the warship USS New York.
Where did it go?
The artifacts can be found anchoring memorials or museum exhibits in all 50 states and eight countries: Germany, Canada, Brazil, South Korea, The United Kingdom, Afghanistan, China and Ireland. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey oversees the artifact program, reviewing applications and parceling out the steel and other items to about 1,500 individual nonprofit groups, governments or museums so far. The artifact must be available for the public to view it.
How much is left?
Fewer than 30 pieces of steel, including pieces of rail tracks, remain. Fewer than 70 other artifacts such as clothing or toys also remain in Hangar 17 at Kennedy Airport.
Are items still being sought?
Thirty applications are pending approval, and 40 others are in the review process. Even as recently as last week, an 8-foot-long, 1,100-pound steel beam arrived in Portsmouth, N.H., while other pieces were distributed to Ware, Mass., and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida during August. The Ware Fire Department is building a second memorial using trade center artifacts. It received a 1,600-pound piece of steel in August that will be used in a memorial that is still being discussed. At the space center, the beam will be the centerpiece of a permanent memorial at Fire Station No. 1. That memorial includes small-scale replicas of the twin towers.
Was any of the steel recycled or discarded?
No. The Port Authority’s mission was to preserve the artifacts and distribute them to worthy groups to memorialize the attacks.
Sources: The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey; the New York State Museum; Associated Press archives