SEPTEMBER 11
BEARING WITNESS TO HISTORY

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Steel columns and spandrel plate from the south tower. Negative #: 2002-13845


Location: World Trade Center
Source: Gift of Hugo Neu Schnitzer East


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World Trade Center steel
Description: This collection of steel from the World Trade Center includes a heavily damaged column assembly from the outside column ring at the 70th floor of the south tower, and two short column stubs.

Context: Despite gaping holes in the World Trade Center towers caused by the impact and penetration of the hijacked airplanes, the buildings survived the initial collision. Fuel from the airliners ignited major fires that engulfed many floors of the buildings. At 9:59 am (fifty-six minutes after being struck) the south tower collapsed and at 10:28 am (one hour and forty-two minutes after being struck) the north tower collapsed. Most experts believe the heat from the fires caused the floor trusses to fail, which allowed the outside columns to buckle outward, leading to the ultimate failure of both buildings. About 2,800 people were killed in the attack on the Twin Towers.

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Column end
This end of a heavily damaged exterior column from an upper floor of the World Trade Center was recovered from the debris pile.
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Stencils on steel
World Trade Center steel was stenciled with information that aided in the assembly of the buildings. Markings on this piece of steel indicate that the original weight was seven tons, and that it was located on the 70th floor of the south tower.
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Bolt hole
A structural engineer’s arrow beneath the distorted bolt hole indicates the direction in which the bolt disconnected during the World Trade Center collapse.
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Steel before cutting and transport to the Smithsonian
Marked with "S" for "Save" on the bottom of the columns, steel held for the Smithsonian lies in a field in the Hugo Neu Schnitzer East facility.
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Scrapyard loading dock
At the Hugo Neu Schnitzer East loading dock in Jersey City, New Jersey, the National Museum of American History’s column stub stands amid other World Trade Center steel heading for steel mills by ship.
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Smithsonian loading dock
The steel was delivered by flatbed truck to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History loading dock.
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Column end
This piece of twisted exterior column from the World Trade Center was recovered from the debris pile.
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"... a crashing crescendo of sound—smashing steel into these barges..."
David Shayt
September 11 Collecting Curator. Museum Specialist, Division of Cultural History
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"... I felt as if I was on Antarctica, at an Antarctic base of some kind."
David Shayt
September 11 Collecting Curator. Museum Specialist, Division of Cultural History

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