September 11: Found artifacts at the 9/11 Museum

Above, a Fire Helmet belonging to Chief Joseph Pfeifer. This object is now part of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. More photos, and stories about those objects, below (source: REUTERS). A related news item about the museum is here.

Joseph Pfiefer, the battalion chief of Engine 7, Ladder 1, was on a routine call in downtown Manhattan when he heard the roar of American Airlines Flight 11 passing overhead on course for the North Tower of the World Trade Center. His unit was one of the first to arrive at the scene, and he set up a command center in the North Tower's lobby. That day, he was being followed by two French filmmaker brothers, Jules and Gedeon Naudet, and their footage from the scene shows Pfiefer's brother Kevin, also a firefighter in a different unit, preparing to head upstairs for the unfolding rescue mission. When the South Tower collapsed, Pfiefer radioed evacuation orders to his officers in the North Tower. Pfiefer, along with the rest of Ladder 1, survived that day. His brother did not.

The museum, which occupies seven stories below the ground of the World Trade Center site--is still being built at the site of the fallen towers. It is due only to open in 2012, on the 11th anniversary of the attacks.

Below, more images of personal belongings that will become part of the museum's collection.

Above, blood-stained shoes worn by Linda Lopez as she evacuated from the 97th Floor of Tower 2 on September 11, 2001. She was at work at the Fiduciary Trust Company on the South Tower's 97th floor when the first plane crashed into North Tower, sending a fireball past their window and radiating a heat that she said felt like being sunburned. There was quickly a sense of confusion: Was it a bomb? Were the rumors that it was a plane crash true? Should people in the South Tower ignore the advice coming over the public address system to stay put and evacuate instead? Lopez felt she had to get out. She had reached only as far as the 61st when she was thrown against a wall as the second plane crashed into the floors above her. Taking off her shoes, she continued to head down the stairs, passing firefighters heading in the opposite direction. She ran barefoot out of the building, across broken glass and other debris. "Lady, your feet are bleeding," someone said to her as she paused a few blocks away in relative safety. She put her shoes back on, and began learning the details of what it was she had just escaped from.

Red wallet belonging to victim Gennie Gambale, recovered from the rooftop of the Marriott Hotel at the World Trade Center. She was a vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald and working on the 103rd floor of the North Tower when the first plane crashed into the lower floors, trapping those above. Her family put up thousands of posters around town in the hopes that she might be found alive, but it was in vain; she was 27 when she was killed. A police officer, who happened to be the mother of one of Gambale's friends, found Gambale's wallet on the roof of the nearby Marriott hotel and immediately recognized the name on the damaged cards inside, and ensured it was quickly handed over to the family.

A "Little Red" doll discovered by Brian Van Flandern on September 12, 2001. He awoke in Queens on the morning of 9/11 to the news of a plane hitting the North Tower, and was determined to volunteer despite his emergency medical technician license having recently expired. After repeated failed attempts to enroll at several impromptu volunteer coordination that had sprung up around the city that day, he decided to head to the World Trade Center site and managed to get past a checkpoint to join other volunteers on what became known as "the pile". He spent 24 hours helping search for trapped and wounded survivors. Morale quickly flagged: he recalls only one successful rescue, in which a man was freed from a piece of steel piercing his ankle. Before leaving the site, he found a rag-doll in the rubble. At first, it seemed to be evidence of a child caught up in the attacks. He later learned it was one of several mascot dolls that sat together on the shelf in the offices of the Chances for Children charity on the 101st floor of the North Tower, other examples of which were found scattered far and wide across Lower Manhattan.

A recovered FDNY Squad 252 helmet belonging to deceased FDNY member Kevin M. Prior is seen in this photograph before becoming a part of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York August 22, 2011. Kevin Prior, a firefighter with Brooklyn's Squad 252, can be seen in video footage of the North Tower lobby recorded after the first plane hit getting ready to go upstairs. Responding to a mayday call sent out by fellow firefighters encountering breathing problems, he and five other members of the squad are thought to have been on a floor in the 20s when the tower collapsed. Prior's body was found three weeks after the attacks and buried on Long Island, but his mother was troubled that his helmet had not been returned to the family, and said as much in a television interview. An employee at the city's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner happened to catch the broadcast, recognized Prior's squad and badge numbers, and hand-delivered the badly damaged helmet to his grateful family.

A Port Authority Police Department uniform hat, badge number 899, and Port Authority Pipe Band hat belonging to victim Liam Callahan. He was a Port Authority police officer who had been commended for his "heroic actions" after responding to the 1993 World Trade Center bomb attack, and was a first responder on the morning of 9/11. Even after the towers collapsed, Joan, his wife, continued to hope he might somehow turn up in time for the celebration of their 20th wedding anniversary the next day. He was killed at the age of 44. His family donated his Port Authority police uniform hat and the uniform he would wear as a drum sergeant in the force's Emerald Society Pipes and Drums band.

An NYPD Emergency Service Unit hardhat and folding shovel used on September 11, 2001 and during the clean-up period at ground zero by Police Officer Kenny Winkler of NYPD ESU 1, is seen in this photograph. He was coming off-duty from a night shift as an officer with the New York Police Department's Emergency Service Unit on the morning of the attacks. He nonetheless joined his colleagues on their vehicle and they raced towards the World Trade Center, and stayed in the vehicle outside to coordinate communications between different parts of the force. After the South Tower collapsed, he ordered everyone still inside the North Tower to leave. He had to abandon the vehicle after the North Tower collapsed, and set up a new command center nearby and continued to try and coordinate communications. Later, he would work on the pile during the rescue operation, wearing his NYPD hardhat and carrying his hand shovel, and returned periodically to the site during the following nine-month clean-up operation.

An ironworker construction helmet belonging to Larry Keating, an ironworker foreman who helped oversee the removal of wreckage from the World Trade Center site during the nine-month clean-up operation following the attack. He was chosen by the ironworkers union, Local 40, to represent his colleagues at the ceremonial removing of what became known as Last Column - an upright piece of of the towers that had become covered in mementos from the clean-up workers and from which flew an American flag. He wore his hardhat throughout the clean-up, and continued to wear it proudly for site visits until his death in 2011 from a heart attack.