Skip to comments.Exhibit Looks at WTC Operation at Fresh Kills
Posted on 11/25/2003 8:36:29 PM PST by Calpernia
(1010 WINS) (NEW YORK) For hour after hour, day after day, month after month, they kept at it.
From the original mountains of debris down to the last quarter-inch, workers at the Fresh Kills landfill sifted through 1.8 tons from the decimated World Trade Center over the course of 10 months, looking to recover whatever they could.
Some of what they found, from car parts to building remnants, makes up an exhibit chronicling the massive effort. "Recovery: The World Trade Center Recovery Operation at Fresh Kills" opened at the New-York Historical Society on Tuesday and runs through March 21.
The exhibit -- featuring more than 50 objects and 65 photographs -- is part of "History Responds," the institution's program that collects historical materials relating to the 9/11 attacks.
The work at Fresh Kills, miles from ground zero and closed to the general public, is an important part of the 9/11 story that most people don't know about, organizers said.
"I don't think people have a good sense of the extraordinary lengths to which every single worker there went to find human remains, personal property, anything to bring some comfort to the families who lost people on Sept. 11," said Amy Weinstein, assistant curator at the Historical Society.
"It's a glimpse of something that very few people see," said Mark Schaming, director of exhibitions for the New York State Museum, which put the exhibit together. "It's a remarkable thing, the extent that they went to. ... They sorted things down to the size of a dime."
The items in the show range from a paperweight found during the sifting process to vehicle parts and the equipment, like rakes and a bucket, used to do the searching.
There are doors from a fire engine and the trunk lid from a destroyed police car; remnants of elevator floor numbers and a beam from the twin towers.
There are pieces of fuselage and a seat belt from the airplanes that crashed into the buildings,
There's also a slew of small items, like keys, found in the rubble.
The photographs record the daily activities at the site, from the huge piles that had to be sorted, to images of those who worked there, spending hours at conveyor belts watching for the smallest fragment of something vital to come by.
Closed by the city in March 2001, Fresh Kills was reopened a day after 9/11. The landfill was the last stop for debris hauled by trucks and barges to be sifted one last time for remains, personal property and criminal evidence.
At the height of the operation, 7,000 tons of material were processed each day as workers in respirators manned conveyor belts, poised to stop the flow when they spotted a bone fragment or other remains. More than 54,000 pieces of personal property, including rings, watches, wallets and ID cards, were found.
Of the nearly 20,000 human remains recovered from the twisted ruins, more than 1,400 were found at the landfill, the city medical examiner's office has said.
"I hope that the families see this, that they understand the amount of detail and concern that was put forth to recover their loved ones, to recover their personal property, and that's basically what the whole thing is about," said Police Inspector James Luongo, the site commander.
The show is a collaboration between the Historical Society and the New York State Museum in Albany, which has a permanent collection of artifacts related to 9/11. Many of the items in this exhibition have already been shown there, and the show will be traveling. It has already been seen in Cleveland, and is slated to go to Cleburne, Texas; Buffalo, N.Y., and Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Recovery:The World Trade Center Recovery Operation at Fresh Kills
Fragment of Airplane
Elevator Floor Plaque
FBI and NYPD
American Flag Recovered
The exhibition consists of 65 photographs and over 50 objects recovered from the destroyed World Trade Center. Collectively, they help to tell the unheralded story of what happened when the recovery effort moved beyond Ground Zero to Fresh Kills landfill, the "city on the hill" where recovery workers toiled for long, tedious hours at a disheartening task.
Winter Scenes at the Kills
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