SEPTEMBER 11
BEARING WITNESS TO HISTORY

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Emergency instruction panel. Negative #: 2002-3656


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


Related Objects


World Trade Center elevator artifacts
Description: This elevator emergency-instruction plate and four elevator frame floor markers were recovered from the World Trade Center debris.

Context: Elevators were the lifeblood of the World Trade Center. At 110 stories, the 99 elevators in each tower were necessary to quickly move people up from the street and between floors.

For many occupants of the World Trade Center on September 11, deciding whether to use the elevators meant the difference between life and death. When terrorists crashed an airliner into the north tower, the power for many of the elevators was interrupted, and some people became trapped (a few were freed before the building collapsed). In the south tower, numerous people used elevators to evacuate in the 17-minute period before the second crash. After the second crash, most of the 83 elevator mechanics gave up their rescue attempts and evacuated.


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Floor indicators
These three metal panels (numbers 105, 73, and 31) hung on the exterior of the World Trade Center elevator door frames and indicated the floor number.
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Elevator floor sign
This metal panel was from the ground floor of one of the Twin Towers. The sign hung on the exterior of the elevator door frame and indicated the floor number.
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Sign in museum storage
Before contamination testing curators wore protective gear to handle objects recovered from the World Trade Center.




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©2002 National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution