David Shayt
September 11 Collecting Curator
Museum Specialist, Division of Cultural History

"... stripped off and folded up like wrapping paper during the collapse of the buildings."
It took five or six trips to finally find the steel that we now have. Steel that is manageable in size and yet robust enough to reflect the size and grandeur of the World Trade Center. Also steel that could be identified by its tower and its floor level. So the objects in the collection from these scrap yards have those signature elements: size, identification and most importantly deformation. Twisting, wrenching, and tortured steel.

We also collected from those yards a twisted piece of the aluminum cladding that wrapped the steel, that gave the Trade Centers their characteristic shine. It was a special anodized aluminum sheet that was bolted to the outsides of the steel columns--quickly stripped off and folded up like wrapping paper during the collapse of the buildings. There were great knots of it all over the Schnitzer scrap yard. I found a piece that was both twisted, but also had a sense of what it used to look like, some straight elements and some ways in which--that showed how it was attached to the steel.