SEPTEMBER 11
BEARING WITNESS TO HISTORY

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Rake and pitchfork.


Location: World Trade Center
Source: Gift of Police Department - City of New York


Related Objects



Staten Island recovery site material
Description: This rake, pitchfork, detective’s windbreaker, and sign were used at the Staten Island recovery site, also known as Fresh Kills Landfill.

Context: To facilitate the search and clean-up of the World Trade Center collapse, the 1.45 million tons of debris were sent to Fresh Kills, an old landfill on Staten Island. Using rakes, sifting tables, and heavy equipment, workers spread out the debris and meticulously examined it for even the smallest pieces of evidence. The site was staffed by members of the FBI, FDNY, NYPD, and other government agencies. In all, 54,000 personal objects were recovered and 1,200 victims identified.

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Debris-sifting implements
Rake and pitchfork collected by the National Museum of American History, and other implements, ready to sift debris at the Staten Island recovery site.
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Jacket worn by recovery worker
This light weight jacket, photographed from several angles, was worn by NYPD detective Andre Smith while he worked at the Staten Island recovery site.
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Sign from debris-sorting field
This sign reflects the pragmatic humor prevalent among hard-working rescue personnel. The recovery site received many visitors, and as the sign implies, site workers wanted to sift debris, and not take time out for introductions. Transcript: “HI, [...]
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Sorting landfill material
A loader re-excavated World Trade Center landfill material in a June 2002 second sorting at the Staten Island recovery site.
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Debris
Debris from the World Trade Center site before it was sorted.
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Metal debris
Metal from the World Trade Center debris was first rough-sorted, then transported to another location in the Staten Island recovery site for additional sorting by type and size.
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Small-debris sorting
Volunteers, including many off-duty police officers, scrutinized small debris on conveyor belts in a tent at the Staten Island recovery site in search of personal effects from the World Trade Center.
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Cafeteria entrance
A sign at the entrance to the Staten Island recovery site cafeteria acknowledges the large number of agencies and organizations involved in the recovery effort.
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Recovery site map
Map of the World Trade Center recovery operation on Staten Island.
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Stress management booklets
These pamphlets (in English and Spanish) on how to cope with stress were distributed to relief workers at the Staten Island Recovery Site by the Salvation Army. Transcript: Left: THE LORD IS NEAR TO THE BROKENHEARTED Comfort and Hope from the [...]
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Stress managment brochure
The work at Ground Zero and Fresh Kills was both physically and emotionally draining. Many organizations produced materials to help workers cope with the stress. Transcript: Stress Management Information POPPA (FORMERLY MAP) Police Organization [...]
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Sweatshirt worn by Staten Island recovery site worker
Working at the recovery site was an important and sobering assignment for thousands of law enforcement officers. FBI special agent Richard Marx, along with many others, wore sweatshirts imprinted with an inspirational statement in Latin. On the front [...]
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Exclusion sign
For safety reasons, and because the collapsed World Trade Center was a crime scene, access to the Staten Island recovery site was carefully controlled.
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"Mountains--mountain ranges of steel, of aluminum dominated the skyline..."
David Shayt
September 11 Collecting Curator. Museum Specialist, Division of Cultural History
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"... stripped off and folded up like wrapping paper during the collapse of the buildings."
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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"...but the honor they were giving to the people, the work they were doing, is represented by these hand tools."
David Shayt
September 11 Collecting Curator. Museum Specialist, Division of Cultural History

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