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Elevator Motor That Helped Save Thousands

This article appeared in the Downtown Express

By Julie Shapiro

A 10,000-pound elevator motor that shuttled hundreds of people a day at the original World Trade Center will be part of the National Museum's permanent exhibit.

The exhibit will also tell the story of John Menville, who arrived at the World Trade Center in 1969 to install the elevators, on 9/11, thousands of people, including Menville, used the elevators to evacuate. When the first plane hit, Menville's immediate thought was of how long it would take to repair the elevators.

When Menville, now 65, helped install the massive 8-foot-by-5-foot motors, called 339 machines, they were the first in North America and the biggest in the world. The only place they had ever been used before was in South African diamond mines.

After installing the elevators, Menville and his coworkers from Otis Elevator Company got to test-ride them, flying through the building at 1,600 feet per minute.

The elevator motor will sit at bedrock in the museum, in a vast corridor dotted with other large objects, like twisted steel and crushed emergency vehicles. Visitors will pass through the gallery on their way to the primary exhibit, where they will see the story of 9/11 told through the eyes of the individuals who experienced it.