SEPTEMBER 11
BEARING WITNESS TO HISTORY

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Negative #: 2002-3659


Location: World Trade Center
Object #: 2002.0142
Source: Gift of Maria Cecilia Benavente


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Clothing worn during World Trade Center escape
Description: Maria Cecilia Benavente, an employee of Aon Risk Services, Inc., wore this clothing as she evacuated her 103rd-floor office in the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Context: The fate of the occupants of the upper floors of the World Trade Center's south tower was determined, to a great extent, by their immediate reaction to the first plane crash into the north tower. Maria Cecilia Benavente quickly evacuated her office on the 103rd floor of the south tower, descending the stairs to the 78th floor “sky lobby,” where she caught an express elevator to the ground. To move more quickly down the 25 floors of stairs, she took off her shoes and hiked up her long skirt.

Seventeen minutes after the north tower was hit, hijackers crashed United Airlines flight 175 into the south tower, cutting off the escape path for almost all who remained above the 78th floor. Fifty-six minutes later, the entire building collapsed, killing 175 Aon employees and about 425 other office workers in the building.


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Skirt and sweater
Skirt and sweater set worn by Maria Cecilia Benavente as she escaped from the south tower of the World Trade Center.
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Aon Risk Services employee Maria Cecilia Benavente
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"...We have convinced her that these shoes would be welcome here at the museum... "
David Shayt
September 11 Collecting Curator. Museum Specialist, Division of Cultural History

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