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WTC Steel Columns Installed At 9/11 Museum

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This April 20, 2010 aerial photo shows the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan surrounding the World Trade Center site. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

This April 20, 2010 aerial photo shows the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan surrounding the World Trade Center site. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/ AP) – As hard-hats hammered and drilled under a hot sun Tuesday, city and state leaders celebrated the progress that has been made at Ground Zero just days before the ninth anniversary of 9/11.

A salvaged 50-ton steel column was hoisted onto a support structure at the World Trade Center site, where it will eventually serve as part of the entryway to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS Stan Brooks reports

A second column is expected to be raised Wednesday, according to Joe Daniels, the memorial’s president. The 70-foot columns, from the wreckage of the north tower, were returned over the weekend to lower Manhattan.

The columns, which have three prongs and are known as tridents, once made up the facade at the tower’s entrance. For the past few years they’ve been kept at a Kennedy International Airport hangar.

“They will be a signature beacon on the plaza,” Daniels said. “There’s a lot of stuff to happen over the next 369 days but we feel like we’re going to get there.”

The $45 million museum, being built below the 8-acre memorial plaza, is set to open next year.

As a giant crane hoisted the plastic-covered column, it slowly revolved, revealing a flag and a 9/11 memorial sign. It was lowered into place.

People inside the site can now see the column jutting from what eventually will be the underground museum.

A chain-link fence with blue netting blocks most of the public view from the street.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the top priority is to give families a place to remember their loved ones. He said it’s also important to continue to fight for freedom.

“The progress that we’ve made here is helping us honor that obligation to our nation and the free world.”

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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