Letters to the Editor

Elevators’ ups & downs

To The Editor:

Re “Elevator motor that helped save thousands for 9/11 museum” (news article, April 3 – 9):

While it is claimed that elevator motors saved lives on 9/11, this is only partially true. Ironically, the elevator motor that will be displayed is allegedly from the North Tower — the tower in which elevators actually cost people their lives.

Physical evidence and oral history tell a mixed story of elevator success and failure on Sept. 11th, 2001. In the North Tower, people ended up trapped in the elevator cabs when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the building.  Some of these elevator cabs stopped near the first floor elevator lobby, several inches above the landing.  Installation of “door restrictors”  (devices which prevent elevator doors from being opened from the inside by elevator occupants when the cab is not level with the landing, potentially allowing occupants to fall down an open shaft below) years earlier by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey prevented the elevator doors from being opened. Eyewitness accounts reveal that people trapped in these cabs were screaming and pounding on the doors. 

Firefighters worked to free these people. The firefighters ended up having to employ a special tool used to extricate people trapped in vehicle crashes — the “jaws of life” — to try to pry the doors open. When the remains of the members of Ladder 4 were found in the months after 9/11, they were found with the jaws of life in what was the elevator lobby.

In the South Tower, the elevators saved those people who were able to evacuate before United Airlines flight 175 hit the building. However, many people were waiting in the 78th floor for elevators to arrive, only to be killed or injured when the plane hit. While it is true that the elevator machinery shielded the “A” stairwell, only a small number of people actually made it to the lobby from above the point of impact — none of rest of the hundreds of people trapped above the point of impact were advised to go to that stairwell and leave.

Nationally, there is a movement today to utilize elevators for evacuation during fire emergencies. There is no doubt that elevators can quickly move significant numbers of people. (it has been shown that if the Twin Towers had been fully occupied on 9/11, many people from below the points of impact would have died in the stairwells because of the slow descent due to overcrowding). Fortunately, the shafts in which these new  elevators will be located in “hardened” shafts, unlike the gypsum board walls in the Twin Towers. 

It is my hope that the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will tell the whole story of 9/11, not just carefully selected details   The elevator motor can be a powerful artifact to portray the conflicting role that elevators played that day.  

Glenn Corbett

Associate professor of fire science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Underground precedents

To The Editor:

 I concur with Michael Burke’s letter, “Burying 9/11” (April 10 – 16), regarding the 9/11 museum’s planned placement of  9/11 artifacts, and how it will convey to visitors the significance of the story of Tues., Sept. 11th, 2001.

 However, Mr. Burke is in error when he states that the 9/11 museum will be New York City’s first and only underground museum.  For the record, there are two New York City underground museums, both in Brooklyn.

 One is the the New York City’s Transit Museum located at the corner of Boerum Pl. and Schermerhorn St., and the other is the Brooklyn Children’s Museum located at 145 Brooklyn Ave.

 It is essential that construction of the 9/11 museum moves forward and is completed in time to commemorate the tenth anniversary on 9/11/11.

 Arnold Korotkin


to downtownexpress.com

“Marriage stimulus”

(editorial, posted April9):

I cannot agree more. Thinking that Iowa is now leading New York on civil rights is a little disturbing. What happened to NY? Let’s hope that the economic aspect of gay marriage might get the State Senate to change their mind. I have gay European friends who are seriously thinking of moving back to Europe…as if we needed more people to move out of NY!


“Soho shop’s tops and bottoms”

(Photo caption, posted April 9):

I completely agree with Mr. Rosenstein. Soho has been going downhill for a while, this is just the latest example of its demise.