Salvaged WTC steel gets new life

Steel turned into memorials, headed to museums, sets sail

POSTED: 2:28 PM Aug 15 2011   UPDATED: 2:20 AM Aug 17 2011
workers clearing debris from World Trade Center site

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 350,000 tons of steel have been extracted from Ground Zero, with much of that steel going on to find other uses.

Much of the salvaged steel was used for recycling and new construction projects, but some of it has gone on to be part of memorials, museums and even a U.S. Navy battleship.

Soon after the World Trade Center's towers fell, efforts began to clear the site. According to FEMA, most of the steel was barged or trucked to New Jersey salvage yards where it was cut up for recycling.

The steel was shipped all over the world for reuse, going as far as India and China. But that's only part of the story.

Memorials across the country

The salvage effort also left behind about 1,200 beams that were housed in Hangar 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y. Some of that steel was selected for the National September 11th Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero and a number of steel pieces also went to the National Institute of Standards and Technologies as part of the 9/11 investigation.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey recently made the remaining 1,112 pieces available to cities, firehouses, museums and military bases for use in Sept. 11 memorials.

The salvaged steel is going to memorials in all 50 states and seven countries. The Port Authority choose the recipients from among more than 2,000 requests, requiring that the resulting memorials be public, free of admission charges and that groups requesting the steel must pay for its transportation.

While some communities are getting steel columns and beams from the World Trade Center, the smallest piece was a two-inch-by-three-inch piece of steel one community will install inside a glass case in the lobby of its city hall.

Arizona shooting memorial

One 5-foot-6-inch fragment of an I-beam was used prominently in a memorial to a girl born on Sept. 11, 2011, who died in the Tucson, Ariz., shooting rampage that injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The beam was molded into 9-foot-11-inch tall angel honoring Christina-Taylor Green who, at 9 years old, was the youngest victim of the January shooting that left six people dead and 13 wounded.

The statue, dubbed The Freedom's Angel of Steadfast Love, also incorporated artifacts from the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pa.

The statue was installed at James D. Kriegh Park in Oro Valley, Ariz., where Christina-Taylor played Little League baseball.

Museum bound

The National September 11th Memorial and Museum, which is scheduled to open on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, isn't the only museum receiving steel from the World Trade Center site.

According to the New York Post, community boosters in Coatesville, Pa., received 500 tons of steel from the Port Authority that have been set aside for a future museum.

The journey this spring from Queens, N.Y., to Coatesville was a homecoming of sorts for the 10 pieces that made up the first nine floors of the World Trade Center's north tower. That's because the 10 "steel trees" were forged by steelworkers in Coatesville during the late 1960s.

The pieces will eventually be part of the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum, used both as a tribute to Sept. 11 victims, survivors and first responders and also to tell the story of the life cycle of steel -- from scrap to plate steel to product.

USS New York

The USS New York, a U.S. Navy battleship, includes 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center in its bow.

The steel was melted down to cast the ship's "stem bar," part of its bow, and represents a small fraction of its total weight.

The ship set sail for the first time from New Orleans on Oct. 13, 2009, and passed the World Trade Center site on Nov. 2, 2009, on its way to its commissioning ceremonies in New York City, pausing to give Ground Zero a 21-gun salute.

The New York's motto, "Strength Forged Through Sacrifice - Never Forget," pays homage to the victims and first responders of the attacks.

World Trade Center cross

Some pieces of steel from the World Trade Center didn't need any work to be reused. Such was the case with the World Trade Center Cross, a group of steel beams found amid the World Trade Center debris that resembles a Christian cross.

The cross was discovered in the debris on Sept. 13, 2001, and eventually erected on a pedestal and moved to a nearby plaza overlooking the site's cleanup and reconstruction.

During construction of a new subway station and office tower at the site, the cross was moved to St. Peter's Church, which faces the World Trade Center site, on Oct. 5, 2006.

The cross was returned to the World Trade Center site in late July to be installed as a permanent exhibit in the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.

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