Workers Wednesday morning removed the piece of a hijacked September 11th plane found wedged behind a building in Lower Manhattan and comes as the city medical examiner also determined that no human remains were found at the site. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.
It took New York City Police Department emergency service unit officers two hours to lift a piece of airplane wreckage three stories from the bottom of an alleyway behind 51 Park Place in Lower Manhattan. Onlookers couldn't help but stop and document the scene, just a few blocks from the former World Trade Center site.
"Remember the moment. The sad moment," said one onlooker.
Police say the piece of the wing flap came from either United Airlines flight 175 or American Airlines flight 11, both of which were driven by terrorists into the Twin Towers. It was twisted and a little rusted from exposure.
"They lifted it over a wall into a courtyard area that allowed them to get it into a basement and onto a dolly. It weighs 255 pounds," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.
NYPD Deputy Chief William Aubry, who was overseeing the work Wednesday morning, said it was difficult work made emotionally trying by memories.
"It's a piece of history. And we tried to preserve it as best we could. Tried not to cut it, we were able to do that," said Aubry. "Pretty weird feeling 11 years later and here we are at a mosque. So it's tough."
The mosque is part of the Islamic Cultural Center that's been proposed for 51 Park Place, a focus of controversy and a public outcry against the development two years ago.
Defenders of the development, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, called the outcry prejudiced.
A key question was also answered Wednesday by officials with the city medical examiner while the piece was being recovered: No human remains were found around the 18-inch wide alleyway where the piece was discovered by surveyors last Wednesday.
The 225-pound wing flap piece will be taken to a police holding facility in Red Hook, Brooklyn to be stored temporarily.
No permanent decision has been made about what to do with it.