NEW YORK — A rusted 5-foot-tall piece of landing gear believed to be from one of the hijacked planes destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks has been discovered near the World Trade Center wedged between a luxury apartment building and a mosque site that once prompted virulent national debate about Islam and free speech.
The twisted metal part, jammed in an 18-inch-wide sliver of open space between the buildings, has cables and levers on it and is about 17 inches wide and 4 feet long, New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday.
“It’s a manifestation of a horrific terrorist act a block and a half away from where we stand,” he said. “So, sure, it brings back terrible memories to anyone who was here or who was involved in that event.”
Kelly edged down the narrow passageway to look at the object Friday evening, noting there is also a piece of rope intertwined with the part in what looks like a broken pulley that may have come down from the roof of the site of the planned Islamic community center, at 51 Park Place.
The piece of equipment was discovered Wednesday by surveyors inspecting the lower Manhattan site of a planned Islamic community center on behalf of the building’s owner, police said.
An inspector was on the roof and noticed the debris and then called 911. Police secured the scene, documenting it with photos.
It includes a clearly visible Boeing Co. identification number, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said.
“The odds of this being wedged between there is amazing,” Browne said, adding it was not surprising that it went undiscovered for more than a decade given the location. “It had to have fallen just the right way to make it into that space.”
Other World Trade Center wreckage had been discovered at the buildings and around the area in years past.