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 wedged between a mosque site and a luxury high-rise apartment building near the World Trade Center.
The twisted metal part has cables and levers on it and is about 3 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep. It includes a clearly visible Boeing Co. identification number, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said Friday.
"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."
Browne said other World Trade Center wreckage had been discovered nearby, possibly even at the same buildings, in years past.
Police detectives and National Transportation Safety Board investigators will determine whether the equipment is from the American Airlines plane or the United Airlines plane that slammed into the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, destroying the towers and killing thousands of people.
The piece of equipment was discovered Wednesday by surveyors inspecting the lower Manhattan site of a planned Islamic community center, at 51 Park Place, on behalf of the building's owner, police said. The inspector was on the roof and noticed the debris and then called 911. Police secured the scene, documenting it with photos.
The spot where the landing gear was found is about three blocks from ground zero. When plans for the mosque and community center were first announced several years ago, a furor erupted. Opponents protested that putting a Muslim facility near ground zero showed disrespect. Supporters cited freedom of religion and said it wasn't too close to where Islamic extremists attacked on Sept. 11.