SEPTEMBER 11
BEARING WITNESS TO HISTORY

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Negative #: 2002-2243


Location: World Trade Center
Object #: 2002.0018
Source: Gift of Jan Demczur




Window washer’s squeegee handle
Description: Jan Demczur, a window washer at the World Trade Center, used this brass Ettore Corp. squeegee handle (now missing its brass channel and rubber blade) to escape from an elevator on September 11.

Context: When a hijacked airplane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center, six men, including Polish immigrant window washer Jan Demczur, found themselves trapped in an express elevator at the 50th floor. Thinking quickly, Demczur and the others pried open the elevator doors and used this squeegee handle to cut their way through the drywall of the elevator shaft. They squeezed through the hole in the wall, fleeing from the building just minutes before the tower fell.

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Squeegee handle underside
A coating of white drywall debris is still visible on the underside of the squeegee handle Jan Demczur used to dig a hole through a wall in his escape from the World Trade Center.
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National Museum of American History press conference
Surrounded by news media, Jan Demczur recounts his story as he donates his squeegee handle and uniform to the National Museum of American History.
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Window Cleaner magazine
The November/December 2001 issue of Window Cleaner magazine featured Jan Demczur’s World Trade Center escape story with a cover image of Mr. Demczur as Superman with a squeegee. Transcript: American Window Cleaner November - December 2001 Issue [...]
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Window washer's uniform
Jan Demczur, a World Trade Center window washer, wore this uniform (shirt, pants, and shoes) on September 11.
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Window Cleaner magazine
The March/April 2002 issue of Window Cleaner magazine featured Jan Demczur’s donation to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Transcript: American Window Cleaner March-April 2002 Issue #90 "Voice of the Professional Window [...]
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Uniform donation
Jan Demczur poses with his uniform and squeegee handle as he donates them to the National Museum of American History.
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"...asked him the big question: Do you still have that squeegee handle?"
David Shayt
September 11 Collecting Curator. Museum Specialist, Division of Cultural History

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