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World Trade Center Twin Tower Tridents Installed Into 9/11 Memorial Museum

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum and The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey have installed two historic Twin Tower‚ tridents into their permanent location at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The pair of towering tridents will be visible from the Memorial Plaza through the Museum’s glass atrium.

Museum Pavilion. Rendering by Squared Design Lab 9/11 Memorial Museum

These seven-story steel structures were part of the original façade of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center, once forming the distinctive Gothic arch motif at the base of the skyscrapers. The forked columns are so large that the Museum Pavilion’s structure will be built around them. The steel icons were recovered from the World Trade Center site during the recovery effort in 2001 and 2002. The Port Authority has worked to conserve the steel columns and other historic World Trade Center artifacts at JFK International Airport’s Hangar 17.

‘The ‘tridents’ are visual references to the towers that once stood at the World Trade Center,‛ Chairman Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. Installed within the Museum, they will symbolize our resolve to overcome the devastation of 9/11 and signal a hopeful future as they greet visitors to the site.‛

We are proud to be resurrecting the Twin Tower tridents at the World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said. ‚The tridents will stand as a powerful message of hope and endurance in the face of tragedy, complementing the hundreds of trees that will surround the two Memorial pools. In the months to come, additional World Trade Center artifacts will return to the site – including a section of the North Tower’s antenna and a fire truck that responded on 9/11.

Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, This is another milestone that moves us closer to meeting our commitment to open the 9/11 Memorial by the 10th anniversary.

Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, Every week, we’re continuing to see the Memorial take shape with granite tiles being installed in the reflecting pools, trees being planted on the plaza and steel rising for the pavilion. Today’s milestone continues to move us in the right direction.‛

Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni said, ‚This is another important sign that tangible progress is being made on the building of the World Trade Center site thanks to the thousands of men and women who are working hard every day to see this site restored.‛

Standing sentry in the Museum Pavilion, the tridents will serve as beacons for visitors to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum,‛ 9/11 Memorial Museum Director Alice M. Greenwald said. ‚We looked at a number of different artifacts to install within the Pavilion, but the tridents seemed most fitting because they epitomize the buildings while also conveying the spirit of fortitude that characterized the response to the attacks.

Each trident is in fact two separate pieces (a top and a bottom piece) that were originally attached and are being reconnected for installation in the museum. When installed, each of the two tridents will weigh approximately 100,000 pounds and stand around 70 feet tall, with their bases one level below ground level and their tops soaring into the glass atrium of the Pavilion. A third and smaller trident fragment is being planned for display in the historical exhibition, in an area focusing on the rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Center site.
Work on the trident installation began on Wednesday, September 1, when the pieces arrived at the World Trade Center site. The base pieces of the tridents were first installed along with the top section of one of the tridents on night of Thursday, September 2. On Tuesday, September 7 the forked, top portion of one of the tridents was welded into place. Both tridents are wrapped in a white covering to protect the artifacts during construction of the Museum Pavilion.

Until the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were built, most skyscrapers were supported by a strong inner ‚core‛ of steel columns. In contrast, the outer walls (or ‚curtain wall‛) of the World Trade Center actually bore the weight, or ‚load,‛ of the building, freeing the interior from support columns and creating the maximum amount of rentable space.

The structural steel tridents formed the perimeter structure of the lower floors of the Towers. Referred to originally as ‚trees‛ by the Yamasaki architectural firm, the tridents rose from the base of the Towers embedded at bedrock, branching from one column into three at the sixth floor. The three columns then ascended to the top of the Twin Towers around 1,100 feet above.

A layer of aluminum originally covered most of the structural steel that formed the façade of the World Trade Center Towers. But this cladding became separated from the steel during the attacks and subsequent collapse of the Towers on September 11, 2001, exposing the original reddish-brown colored steel not seen since the construction of the Towers. During the recovery efforts at World Trade Center site, several tridents pieces were salvaged and subsequently saved by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after being cut down to size to remove via flatbed truck and/or barge.

The two tridents returning to the WTC site were originally located next to each other on the eastern façade of the North Tower.

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