Rescue Recovery Response

New York State Museum

This exhibition has been made possible by:

George E. Pataki, New York State Governor

New York State Office of General Services

New York State Department of Correctional Services

Office of the State Comptroller, New York

New York State Police

Division of Military and Naval Affairs

New York Army National Guard

New York City Fire Department

The firefighters and families of Engine Company 6
of the Fire Department of New York City

New York City Police Department

New York City Department of Sanitation at the Fresh Kills Landfill

New York City Office of Emergency Management

The New-York Historical Society

The Museum of the City of New York

The New Jersey Historical Society


The Salvation Army

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Aon Corporation

Phillips & Jordan Inc.

Christina Steel Inc.

Gould Erectors

Iron Workers Local No.12

The New York State Museum is especially grateful to The World Trade Center Fresh Kills Landfill Recovery Operation. Special thanks to
NYPD Fresh Kills, Incident Commander Inspector James Luongo,
. Bruce Bovino and the NYPD Staten Island Landfill Recovery Team, Richard Marx Special Agent, FBIand the Federal Bureau of Investigation Forensic Evidence Recovery team. Dennis Diggins, Landfill Director.


Dear Educators,

The New York State Museum is proud to present this guide for teachers in conjunction with our exhibition, The World Trade Center: Rescue Recovery Response. Normally many years go by before museums tell the history of such an event. Never in the history of this Museum did curators and exhibitions’ staff move so intently to preserve the elements of history unfolding around us. We share with you the fascinating story of how current history is documented, collected and preserved.
We use images and artifacts to tell the compelling stories of what happened on September 11, 2001 and the days that followed. Although the average visitor saw extensive media coverage of the attacks, not as much detailed information was available to provide context or a history of the site. The objects and images in the exhibition are powerful ways to tell this story unique to a museum setting.
Before the World Trade Center exhibition opened to the public in the State Museum’s galleries, we were unsure about public response. Would children understand and take away something meaningful from the exhibition? After seeing the exhibition, does the visitor know more about the history of the WTC and the scope of the attacks? After the gallery opened, it was clear that visitors of all ages had a strong interest in examining this history. We have witnessed a strong and continued response to the exhibition.
Our guide will provide you with methods for recording and documenting the story of current events. You are provided with tools you can use in your classroom. Activities in the guide correspond to New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum, so they can be incorporated easily into units you are already teaching. Before each activity, the specific Learning Standards and Core Curriculum concepts are listed. You will find that each activity can be tailored to any grade level and students have an opportunity to demonstrate several skills. We hope that you find this guide a valuable resource as you outline your lesson plans for the year.
Thank you for your hard work and dedication in bringing excellent educational opportunities to America’s children.

Mark Schaming
Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs
New York State Museum


During the 1960s, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began work on an ambitious new project to provide a headquarters for international trade. The Authority chose Lower Manhattan as the site for this new center for world trade, and it named Minuro Yamasaki architect for the project. The Port Authority required twelve million square feet of office space on a site sixteen acres in size. Yamasaki eventually settled on twin towers after rejecting over 100 other designs. By the time constructiohad begun in 1968, the plan called for the World Trade Center to be the world’s tallest buildings.
The World Trade Center opened for business in April of 1973, and for the next twenty years carried out its mission as a center for World Trade. Then in February 1993, terrorists attacked the Twin Towers with a truck bomb placed in an underground parking facility beneath the site. While the bomb caused extensive damage to the garage, it did not succeed in bringing down the towers as planned. Following the attack, the Trade Center implemented new security measures to stop a truck bombing from happening again.
Few could imagine that on September 11, 2001 terrorists would again strike the World Trade Center, this time using hijacked commercial passenger jets as missiles. Two planes struck the Twin Towers, and within hours the World Trade Center had collapsed. On that day 2,819 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the crash of a hijacked jet in a Pennsylvania field.
The wreckage of the Twin Towers was sent to the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island so workers could search for human remains, personal objects, and evidence of the attacks. The landfill had closed in March 2001 but was reopened for the World Trade Center debris. Fresh Kills was a suitable location for the recovery operation because of its accessible location, its proximity to the resources of the New York City Department of Sanitation, and its ability to be secured.
The World Trade Center: Rescue Response Recovery is an exhibition by the New York State Museum. It documents the attacks on the World Trade Center and the days and weeks that followed. The exhibit is divided into three parts. Rescue tells the story of the emergency workers at the Twin Towers in the first 24 hours after the attack through the eyes of the New York Fire Department’s Engine Company 6, which lost four firefighters in the towers’ collapse. Recovery documents the painstaking process of sifting through the 1.8 million tons of World Trade Center debris at Staten Island’s Fresh Kills Landfill. Response presents some of the many ways people from throughout New York, across the country, and around the world reacted to the attacks.
The objects in this exhibition represent a broad spectrum of material from the World Trade Center collapse uncovered from the mountains of debris by the dedicated workers at the Fresh Kills landfill. This hidden history provides remarkable insight into the World Trade Center tragedy.


The word “kill” is Dutch for small stream. As the Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in the New York City area, many place names reflect this Dutch heritage. The New York City Department of Transportation lists bridges in the area that cross waterways that use this Dutch term: Arthur Kill, Dutch Kills, Fresh Kills, and English Kills.

Explore with your students the names of local waterways. What do their names tell us about the people who named them?

The World Trade Center: Rescue Recovery Response exhibition brings the story of September 11, the World Trade Center, and the attacks to the public in order for the visitor to experience these historic events with greater clarity and dimension. Through objects and images from the various sites, films, interactive computer terminals and a changing gallery of sympathy material, the visitor will have a memorable visit and leave with not only a history of the events of 9-11 but also about the epic recovery and renewal in the days and years after.
While viewing the exhibit, there are many activities you can do with your class in addition to the pre- and post-visit activities suggested in the exhibit guide that follows. Some are listed below:
These activities are designed to coordinate with a visit to the three sections of the exhibit, Rescue, Response, and Recovery. In addition, there are also two comprehensive activities that cover the entire exhibit. Each activity contains a vocabulary list, suggestions for further reading, and a listing of the New York State skill goals, content goals, and learning standards it meets. All definitions have been adapted from the Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary ( and the Library of Congress.

Exhibit items:
• Artifacts from the WTC
• Photographs
• Interactive computer stations
• Motion picture

Exhibit sections:
Introduction—a brief overview of the World Trade Center construction and history
Rescue—the first 24 hours following the attack with timeline, and artifacts
Recovery—the operation at Fresh Kills including artifacts and photographs
Response—the public reaction to the attack, including artifacts, film, and oral history

Social Studies
Follow the story of the first 24 hours after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Trace sequence of recovery efforts from Ground Zero to Fresh Kills.
NYS Learning Standards
1.2—understanding chronological ordering; creating timelines.

Discuss the need for health and safety precautions used by recovery workers.
NYS Learning Standards
1.4—identifying cause and effect; drawing inferences, making conclusions.

Should objects from the tragedy be preserved in a museum? Explain.
NYS Learning Standards
1.2—significance of historical evidence; primary source material.

English Language Arts
Summarize what the artifacts tell us about daily life at the World Trade Center.
NYS Learning Standards
1.1—condensing information; organizing data.

Objects provide clues to answer questions. Discuss objects that show the occupations of people from the World Trade Center.
NYS Learning Standards
3.2—identifying attributes; discriminating among variables.

Make a list of some of the special terms that are used in this exhibit. Use the glossary provided to find definitions.
NYS Learning Standards
1.2—developing vocabulary.

Evaluation: in your journal write a description of memorable objects you saw in the exhibit.


These activities are designed to coordinate with a visit to the three sections of the exhibit, Rescue, Response, and Recovery. In addition, there are also two comprehensive activities that cover the entire exhibit. Each activity contains a vocabulary list, suggestions for further reading, and a listing of the New York State skill goals, content goals, and learning standards it meets. All definitions have been adapted from the Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary ( and the Library of Congress.
New York City’s Engine Company 6 was the first to respond to the World Trade Center site September 11, 2001. Their pumper, on display at the Museum, was especially designed to push water all the way to the top of the 110-story towers. Rescue tells their story against a timeline of the events of that day.
In the Rescue Exhibit:
Students can explore the interactive kiosk comparing the September 11th with other disasters to hit the United States.

ACTIVITY: Evacuation Plans
(suggested for grades K-6)
• During your visit to the Rescue section, students can examine the rescue equipment on display. Each piece had a specific job to do in the event of an emergency. Students can think about what each piece was used for.
• The Fire Helmet protected the fireman’s head.
The Fire Engine brought firefighters to the fire and pumped water to help put it out. The engine on display was especially designed to pump water to the top of the 110-story World Trade Center.
• The Stand Pipe provided water for hoses on each floor of the World Trade Center.
• The Fire Extinguisher was used to help put out small fires with a chemical that cut off the oxygen supply a fire needs to burn.
• The In Case of Fire sign showed emergency escape routes.
• The Backboard was carried on ambulances and fire engines and was used to carry sick or injured people away from danger. Straps held people onto the board.
• The Air Tank, called a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), similar to a scuba tank, delivered clean air to firefighters in a smoky fire. It weighs thirty pounds.
Skill Goals:
Write to transmit information.
Present information clearly, concisely, and comprehensibly.
Content Goals:
Organize information according to an identifiable structure.
Learning Standards:
English Language Arts 1.2
Equip: to make ready for service or action.
Equipment: materials a person or thing needs for a specific job or task.
Evacuate: to leave a place in an organized way especially for protection.
Rescue: to free from confinement, danger, or evil.

Students can create an evacuation plan for their school. Students should think about the steps necessary to get out in the event of an emergency. Then draw a map with two possible routes out of the building and write step-by-step instructions for other members of the class. Students should trade instruction sheets and maps with one another to try out each other’s escape routes. The instructor should time the students while they try to get out following their classmates’ instructions. See which route or routes are the fastest. Compare students’ routes to the official school evacuation plan.

Further Reading:
Dee Ready. Community Helpers: Fire Fighters. Bridgestone Books: 1997.
Overview of firefighting geared for 2nd and 3rd graders. Offers photos and vocabulary.
Gina Kinton Gorell. Catching Fire: The Story of Firefighting. Tundra: 1999.
A book geared especially for middle school students presents a history of firefighting, how to fight fires, and the many different types of fires, including several famous blazes.

Immediately after the attacks, officials reopened the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island to receive World Trade Center debris. Workers at the landfill sorted through 1.8 million tons of debris to recover human remains, personal effects, and evidence of the terrorist attack. Recovery tells the story of the recovery operation that lasted from September 12, 2001 to June 28, 2002.
In the Recovery Exhibit:
Students can view the Recovery section to see everyday items from the World Trade Center. Read the gallery panels to learn about what was inside the Twin Towers.

ACTIVITY: A Small Town
(suggested for grades K-8)
The World Trade Center was very much like a small town, and it had much in common with a town or a city. Each day 50,000 people worked in the World Trade Center, more people than live in most of New York’s towns or live in any one of thirteen of New York State’s 62 counties. The complex housed Manhattan’s largest mall, a large hotel, and many restaurants. There were over 75 retail stores and parking for 2,000 cars. The World Trade Center had its own police, fire, and security force, and army of maintenance staff, countless electricians, a huge air conditioning plant, and a steam plant to generate heat. In fact, the World Trade Center used more electrical power in one day than most small American cities.
Skill Goals:
• Investigate why people and places are located where they are.
• Use research skills to locate and gather information about geography.
• Interpret and analyze information from nonfiction books and reference materials.
• Develop arguments with effective use of details and evidence.
Content Goals:
• Analyze questions and issues using the six essential elements of geography.
• Acquiring, organizing, and analyzing geographic information.
• Read to acquire information, collect facts, and discover relationships.
• Present opinions and judgments on ideas and information clearly and logically.
Learning Standards:
• Social Studies 3.1
• English Language Arts 1.1 & 3.2
Population: the whole number of people in a country or region.
Trait: a feature used to tell something apart from others.

Using an atlas, students can identify several towns or cities in New York State with populations around the same size as the World Trade Center. (Examples include the city of Binghamton at 47,380 and Hamburg at 56,259). Choose one town and describe the traits it has in common with the World Trade Center. What is different? Students can identify and list several things that are the same and several things that are different. They can then compare and contrast their chosen town with the World Trade Center as either an oral exercise or an essay.
This activity has been adapted from the History Channel’s extensive World Trade Center teacher’s guide.

Further Reading:
Albert Lorenz. Metropolis. Harry N. Abrams: 1996.
A book for ages 9-12 giving an overview of the development of cities.
Ann Heinrichs. New York (America the Beautiful Series) 2nd edition. Children’s Press, 1999.
A book geared to middle-school students covering the geography of New York State.
Written before the attacks on the World Trade Center.
New York State municipal populations, 2000 Census.
http: //
A PDF file of municipalities in New York with their 1990 and 2000 populations.

In the wake of the tragedy, people from all over America and the world created unprompted memorials as an outlet for grief and to comfort aid workers. Others opened their hearts and their buildings to workers. Response presents a rotating display of the many ways people reacted to the attacks.
In the Response Exhibit:
Students should think about the many different types of materials on display and make a list of the different ways the museum conveys information.

ACTIVITY: How a Museum Works
(suggested for grades K-12)
(You may want to use this activity as preparation for the Build an Exhibit in Your Classroom activity below.)
The New York State Museum began working with other museums and government agencies to help salvage important materials within weeks after the destruction of the World Trade Center. The Museum also collected over 100,000 memorial objects created by people from all over the world to express sympathy and grief over the events of September 11, 2001. Each piece collected in the Museum was an important piece of evidence to help tell the story of September 11. Museum staff had to make many difficult decisions about what items to collect and even harder decisions about what items to display. The staff had to consider the importance of each object, the reaction visitors might have to each item, and how each item would help tell the story of the World Trade Center.
Skill Goals:
• Understand how different experiences, beliefs, values, traditions, and motives cause individuals and groups to interpret historic events and issues from different perspectives.
• Consider the sources of historic documents, narratives, and artifacts and evaluate their reliability.

• Develop arguments with effective use of details and evidence.
• Listen attentively to others and build on other’s ideas in conversations with peers and adults.
Content Goals:
•Explain the significance of historical evidence; weigh the importance, reliability, and validity of evidence.
• Present opinions and judgments on experiences, ideas, information, and issues clearly, logically, and persuasively.
• Talk with people of different ages, genders, and cultures.
Learning Standards: 
• Social Studies 1.4
• English Language Arts 3.1, 3.2 & 4.1
Debris: what is left when something is broken down or destroyed.
Evidence: something that provides proof.
Museum: a place that gets, cares for, studies, and displays objects.
Salvage: property saved from destruction (like from a wreck or fire); something taken from a place (like from the trash) that is valuable or useful. Explain the significance of historical evidence; weigh the importance, reliability, and validity of evidence.

Students can imagine they are workers in a local museum. Discus why do we have museums? What is inside a museum? Select an event (like local history, birthdays, etc.) and decide what types of items a museum could collect to display this event. What process should a museum use to decide what items to show for significant events? Choose which items are important or interesting and explain why. Students can think about and discuss with each other what they need to do to tell a story so that visitors will understand.
Further Reading:
Jason Cooper. Museums (Great Places to Visit Series). Rourke Book Company: 1992.
An introduction to museums, the kinds of museums, and what they contain.
Saul Rubin. Offbeat Museums: A Guided Tour of America’s Weirdest and Wackiest Museums. Black Dog & Leventhaul, 2001.
From the Museum of Bathroom Tissue to the Cockroach Hall of Fame, this book is sure to provide fodder for discussion about just what a makes a museum.

(suggested for grades 7-12)
At the Museum:
Students should view one or more oral history videos located in the viewing room of the World Trade Center exhibit. Each video presents the eye-witness account from someone who saw the events of September 11 firsthand.
Oral history records the impressions, ideas, and words of people who experienced events first-hand. It forms an important record of the event as seen through the eyes of people who were there and experienced it in different ways. Oral history is the oldest type of history. It existed long before the written word. Native American groups used oral history to record their past for thousands of years. Beginning in the 1940s, historians began to use tape recorders to record the exact words of eye-witnesses to history, everything from major events to descriptions of everyday life. These archives preserve a view of history that is not always recorded in books, especially concerning the role of women and minorities, who have been historically underrepresented in history textbooks.

Skill Goals:
• Categorize types of information that can be learned from oral interviews and audio presentations.
• Understand that within any group there are many different points of view depending on the particular interests and values of the individual.
• Compare and contrast several interpretations of key events in New York State history.
• Describe historic events through the eyes and experiences of those who were there.
• Write an essay.
• Listen attentively to others.
Content Goals:
• Listen to acquire information and understanding.
• Evaluate criteria from a variety of perspectives and recognize the difference in evaluations based on different sets of criteria.
• Understand the importance of changing and competing interpretations of different historical developments.
• Talk with people of different ages, genders, and cultures.
Learning Standards:
• English Language Arts 1.1, 3.1, and 4.1
• Social Studies 1.3, 1.4
History: a chronological record of significant events (as affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes.
Oral history: historical information obtained in interviews concerning personal experiences and recollections; also : the study of such information.

Take notes on the oral history videos and write down how each person experienced September 11, 2001. Interview friends or relatives about where they were on September 11, 2001. Write an essay comparing and contrasting the different perspectives of that day and consider why the people had different experiences on September 11.
Further Reading:
Donald A. Ritchie. Doing Oral History, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, 2003. This book provides a highly detailed guide to doing oral history. Written for the college student or professional. 
Dean Murphy. September 11: An Oral History. Doubleday, 2002.
This book presents stories of September 11 as told by the people who were there.
On the Web:
Listening to History
A lesson plan for grades 6-8 from the National Endowment for the Humanities EdSiteMent
website. This is a very detailed plan for preparing, conducting, and reporting oral histories.
http: //
The Oral History Association
A group dedicated to oral history; provides standards for oral historians.
http: //

COMPREHENSIVE ACTIVITY 2: Build an Exhibit in Your Classroom
(can be adapted for grades K-12)
We do not usually think about everyday objects and current events as future history, but they are. Students’ concert tickets and programs, clothing, computer games, and CDs could someday be the artifacts displayed in museum exhibits about life at the beginning of the 21st century. Events they live through could be the topics of those exhibits.
Some events will not be recognized as historic when they happen. Other events will be immediately recognized as such. The exhibition World Trade Center: Rescue Recovery Response uses artifacts, photographs, videos, and oral histories to document the history of September 11, 2001 and to tell how the items were recovered after the towers fell. These items are important for what they tell us about the World Trade Center: what happened there daily; the people who worked at the WTC; the responding rescue crews; why the buildings fell; and the recovery process and the people who conducted it.
Skill Goals:
• Compare and synthesize information from different sources.
•Use a wide variety of strategies for selecting, organizing, and categorizing information.
• Distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information.
•Evaluate the sources of historic documents, narratives, or artifacts.
•Understand individual perspectives on historic events.
Content Goals:
• Read to acquire information.
• Collect data, facts, and ideas.
Produce a record that can be transmitted to others.
• Explain the significance of historical evidence.
Learning Standards:
• English Language Arts 1.1
• Social Studies 1.4

Artifact: an object created by humans remaining from a particular period.
Chronological: arranged in or according to the order of time.
Crosscheck: to check information in different sources to make sure it is correct.
Delegate: to give responsibility or authority to someone else.
Docent: a person who leads guided tours especially through a museum or art gallery.
Exhibit: to show or display publicly.
Primary Source: a source which shows firsthand knowledge about a particular historical event; an actual record that has survived from the past such as a letter, photograph, oral history, sound recording, film or videotape, or artifact.
Secondary Source: information about historical events that is not firsthand or information about primary sources or discussing primary sources, like history books, web pages, and documentaries.
Theme: a subject or topic of discussion or of artistic representation.

This activity can be done in its entirety, in parts, or be adapted to the needs of the class. For example, the teacher can easily change the sequence of activities or use them as parts of other lessons. The teacher may instead choose to have students simply discuss how research is conducted, how sources are evaluated, or how exhibits are built. This can be done in class before or after your visit to the Museum, or while viewing the exhibit. Students can research museum careers and determine which staff members are responsible for each step of exhibit production.
There are many steps to producing an exhibit in the classroom. The best way to get ideas is to visit a museum to observe and analyze different types of exhibits. Once you and your students have decided to produce an exhibit, here is a suggested process to follow.
1. Choose a theme for your display.
• Has there been a recent event in your area or project at your school that you want to tell others about? What are you studying that you want to know more about? Will your topic interest other students or your parents?
• What types of resources can you use? What objects might be available at school and at home to use in making a display of your theme?
• Will you be able to gather enough information about this theme? If not, you may have to change your theme.
2. Write a timeline with deadlines for all stages of research, planning, and production. Make a chart of the process you will follow.
3. Do the research.
• Locate related objects, photographs, etc. that might be available to use for the duration of the exhibit. Get as much information about each item as possible. Write a paragraph that includes what the object is, how it connects to the theme, how it is used, what it is made of, who owns it, etc.
• Use libraries and the internet to gather information. Take notes on all the information you gather. Make a record of all your sources for a bibliography.
• Evaluate the sources, decide whether they are primary and secondary sources, and determine how reliable they are. If possible, crosscheck the accuracy of all information collected. Have a teacher, a librarian, or a parent or guardian help you.
4. Organize the exhibit.
• Decide what you want your visitors to see or learn. Write a list of objectives or goals.
• Choose how to organize the information. Should you organize geographically, chronologically, by making comparisons, or by creating a storyline?
• Make an outline your exhibit content before you set it up. Choose the information that you want to include. List which objects, photographs, etc. you will use to illustrate each point.
• Decide how to present your ideas. Should you: place artifacts in an exhibit display case; build a model; construct a timeline; build a period room? To interpret your exhibit, will you reenact an event; use interactive components; present information using exhibit labels; use additional brochures; use background music; train guides; or use a combination of formats?
6. Plan the production of the exhibit (design, construction and all writing and programming).
• Work as a group to divide and to delegate responsibility to smaller groups or individuals for each stage of planning and production.
 Design and plan construction
• Decide whether display objects need to be protected inside an exhibit case or will be touchable; how much space you have to work with; and whether you will need electrical power.
• Draw a floor plan. Make sure the exhibit is accessible to all visitors and no exits are blocked.
• Determine where objects and labels will be placed in the display.
• Make a list of all the materials and equipment you will need for construction.
• Write labels that explain what you are showing.
7. Build and install the exhibit.
• Follow your production timeline. Make a checklist for all jobs.
• If you use guides, write a script so they know what to say at each stop in the exhibit.
8. Hold an opening and welcome visitors.
9. Evaluate the success of the exhibit.
• From the perspective of students: What went wrong? What went right?
• Is there anything you would do differently if you did this again?
This outline has been adapted from the extensive Young Curators curriculum of the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University.
http: //

Further Reading:
Stuart A. Kallen and Julie Berg. The Museum (Field Trips). Checkerboard Library: 1997.
Describes different types of museums and what’s inside.
John L’Hommedieu. Working at a Museum (Working Here). Children’s Press: 1999.
Kids’ guide to careers working at a museum.
Keith Goddard and Andrea P. A. Belloli. Make Your Own Museum. Ticknor and Fields, 1994.
Interactive book for children introduces them to museums with text about the many kinds of museums and a punch out museum to build and reusable works of art to place inside.

COMPREHENSIVE ACTIVITY 3: Document Based Questions
Discussing September 11 Through Symbols
Skill Goal:
• Investigate key turning points in New York State and United States history and their significance.
• Present arguments for certain views or actions with reference to specific criteria.

Content Goal:
• Illustrate the connections of people and events from a variety of perspectives.
• Writing for critical analysis and evaluation.
Learning Standards:
• Social Studies 1.2
• Language Arts 3.2

This task is based on the accompanying documents (1- 6). Some of these documents have been edited for the purposes of this task. This question is designed to evaluate your ability to work with historic documents. As you analyze the documents, take into account both the sources of the document and the author’s point of view.
Directions: Read the documents in Part A and answer the questions after each document. Then read the directions for Part B and write your essay.
Historical Context: On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Both towers of the World Trade Center collapsed in the attack, and another skyscraper fell later in the day due to heavy damage. After the attack, many people tried to make sense out of what went on that day. Both the media (newspapers, magazines, television, and the internet) and an exhibit at the New York State Museum used symbols to help the public understand what happened.
Task: Write an essay to explore the way the media and the New York State Museum use symbols to discuss the events of September 11, 2001.
Part A: Short Answer
The documents below relate information about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the media the day after the attacks and from the New York State Museum today. Examine each document carefully, and then answer the question that follows it. These answers will help you in part B.
Document 1 – Newspaper Account of September 11

New York: A City Turned Upside Down
Fires Rage, Hospitals Appeal for Help; National Guard Fans Out in Manhattan.
NEW YORK, Sept. 11—The symbol of the nation’s financial might was a smoldering wreck tonight as a third tower collapsed at the World Trade Center and the realization came that thousands likely lay dead in the rubble of two of the world’s tallest buildings...
Life in the city turned upside down. The roller-blade paradise of Liberty Park in Lower Manhattan was transformed into a triage [medical priority] center, and Chelsea Piers, an upscale body-toning center on the Hudson River, became a makeshift morgue. President Bush declared the city a major disaster area.
—Michael Powell
Washington Post, September 12, 2001
According to the document, why did the terrorists choose to strike the World Trade Center?

Document 2 – Editorial Cartoon about September 11
How does the cartoonist depict American emotions following September 11?

Document 3 – Magazine Article about September 11
If you want to humble an empire it makes sense to maim (hurt) its cathedrals. They are symbols of its faith, and when they crumple and burn, it tells us we are not so powerful and we can’t be safe. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, planted at the base of Manhattan Island with the Statue of Liberty as their sentry (guard), and the Pentagon, a squat, concrete fort on the banks of the Potomac, are the sanctuaries of money and power that our enemies may imagine define us. But that assumes our faith rests on what we can buy and build, and that has never been America’s true God.
—Nancy Gibbs
Time Magazine, September 12, 2001

Why does the author believe symbols can’t define America?

Document 4 – NY State Museum Wall Text Panel
About the World Trade Center
The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace… beyond the compelling need to make this a monument to world peace, the World Trade Center should, because of its importance, become a representation of man’s belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his belief in the cooperation of men, and through this cooperation, his ability to find greatness.
—Minuro Yamasaki
Chief Architect of the World Trade Center Complex
Opening Ceremonies and Dedication April 4, 1973
Identify at least three qualities the author hoped the World Trade Center could symbolize.

Document 5 – NY State Museum Artifact Display and Text Label
Engine Company 6 was located in various places in lower Manhattan until it found its current home at 49 Beekman Street. Due to its proximity to the World Trade Center, the engine had a specially built pump that could push water to the top of the 110 story towers. Firefighters from Engine 6 were first responders on September 11 and hooked into a Trade Center standpipe [fire hydrant] on West Street. The collapse of the North Tower destroyed the pumper.

How does the fire engine help people understand what happened September 11?

Document 6 – NY State Museum Artifact and Text Label
The flag hanging directly above you was flying at the World Trade Center when it collapsed. It was discovered in the debris by the evidence recovery teams. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans used their most powerful symbol of freedom in an act of patriotic solidarity as our flag was seen in unprecedented [not seen before] numbers.
Why did the recovery teams save the flag to display in the Museum?

Part B: Essay Task:
Using the documents above, your answers to the questions in Part A, and your knowledge of social studies, write a well-developed essay that includes an introduction, support paragraphs and a conclusion. In your essay, explore the various ways the media and the New York State Museum use symbols to discuss the events of September 11, 2001.

Further Reading:
Magnum Photographers and David Halberstam. New York September 11. Powerhouse Books, 2002.
A visual history with photographs documenting September 11 and its aftermath.

Internet Resources:
New York State Archives: Educational Resources
http: //
This selection of educational resources from the New York State Archives includes information on how to use historical records in the classroom.
The History Channel World Trade Center Teacher’s Guide
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The guide provides a guide to the History Channel documentary “The World Trade Center.” It includes questions and answers about New York City and September 11, 2001 and a worksheet for students.
9/11: The Book of Help Teacher’s Guide
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This teacher’s guide talks about the power of the written word and provides guidelines especially for teenagers on how to write about their feelings about September 11, 2001.
PBS: The Center of the World Teacher’s Guide
This guide was produced in conjunction with the film “The Center of the World” about the World Trade Center. It includes activities in several subject areas including civics, history, geography, and economics. It is aimed at secondary students.

Rescue, Recovery, Response
Teacher Guide Evaluation

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Please fax or mail this evaluation to:
Director of Museum Education
New York State Museum
Cultural Education Center 3029
Albany, New York 12230
FAX: 518-473-8496