Three years ago, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey ramped up its effort to donate rubble from the World Trade Center being stored in a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Thousands of applications flooded in for scorched and bent pieces of steel that the Port Authority refers to as “artifacts.” In Illinois over the last couple of years, 46 municipalities and fire departments—none of them in Chicago—have been given literally tons of Ground Zero ruins. The only caveat: The pieces must be displayed for the public. And they are, in memorials that dot the suburban landscape.
Algonquin–Lake in the Hills Firefighters Association (201 N Harrison St, Algonquin) Algonquin officials hope to complete the memorial’s construction by Tuesday 11. A 5,000-pound beam will stand on end inside a concrete pentagon surrounded by a 40-foot-diameter circle of brick pavers.
Carpentersville Fire Department (213 Spring St, Carpentersville) Two twisted five-foot beams pierce a stone monument capped by a brass fireman’s helmet flanked by tablets containing the Fireman’s Prayer and a poem called “The Last Alarm.”
College of DuPage (301 S Swift Rd, Addison) The Homeland Security Education Center shows off a 1,000-pound steel slab illustrating terrorism’s consequences.
Commander Dan Shanower Memorial (400 S Eagle St, Naperville) In addition to a seven-foot-long, 2,000-pound twisted beam, Michigan artist Bill Cooper included 100 pounds of Pentagon rubble. The memorial’s namesake, a Naperville native Navy man, died in the Pentagon attack.
Darien–Woodridge Fire Protection District (7550 Lyman Ave, Darien) A three-foot beam atop a pedestal is the centerpiece of this simple memorial outside the southwest suburb’s fire department HQ.
Des Plaines City Hall (1420 Miner St, Des Plaines) A local firefighter welded the 114-pound girder onto a granite slab donated by a local monument company; a trophy store donated the plaque.
Frankfort Fire Protection District (333 W Nebraska St, Frankfort) A bent eight-foot piece of steel, adorned only with an American flag, is displayed inside the fire station’s training room.
Heralds of 9/11 (9525 S Tulley Ave, Oak Lawn) Crystal Lake sculptor Erik Blome had a lot to work with: four rusty beams weighing a total of 30,000 pounds. Volunteer welders soldered on the steel faces Blome created of first responders.
Lincolnshire–Riverwoods Fire Protection District (115 Schelter Rd, Lincolnshire) A three-foot steel beam is displayed on a patio outside the fire department’s headquarters along with plaques honoring firefighters both at Ground Zero and locally.
Park Ridge Fire Station (901 W Devon Ave, Park Ridge) Evanston firm Myefski Architects designed this proposed memorial, which is expected to be finished by September 2013. The renderings show a six-foot-long, 200-pound beam encased in glass.
Ridgewood Cemetery (9900 N Milwaukee Ave, Des Plaines) Lady Liberty sheds a single, glistening tear on an engraved stone at the memorial that last year added a charred, six-foot long, 50-pound piece of the World Trade Center.
St. Luke the Evangelist Orthodox Church (9300 W 107th St, Palos Hills) A 200-pound steel beam, a small piece of the Pentagon and a rock from the Shanksville crash site comprise the compact memorial annually propped in front of St. Luke’s altar. The artifacts sit beneath an icon featuring the twin towers and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed in the attacks.
Winnebago County 9/11 Emergency Responders Memorial (State St and Kilburn Ave, Rockford) Two 1,000-pound steel beams are incorporated into the design of this proposed memorial—$911,001 is being raised to fund construction—that will also feature two 20-foot towers atop a Pentagon-shaped platform surrounded by grass and 40 trees representing Flight 93’s passengers.