EAST HAVEN, Conn. — PATH subway car 745 looks the same as it did when it left Hoboken, New Jersey, for the World Trade Center in Manhattan on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Destination signs still say “WTC.” Banners inside tout the 2001 U.S. Open tennis tournament, urge riders to keep train cars clean and promote Jaguar cars. The seats, hand straps and poles are as they were 15 years ago.
When a permanent public display of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson car officially opens at the Shore Line Trolley Museum in Connecticut on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the attacks, visitors will learn how 745 was one of the few things pulled from the rubble of the twin towers that remained virtually intact.
A dedication and opening ceremony is planned for Sept. 11. It will be the first time the car has been open to the public since the day of the attacks.
“It left Hoboken on a regular work day and ended up in a war zone,” said John Proto, director of the museum in East Haven.
Car 745 was part of a seven-car train filled with passengers that left Hoboken at 8:42 a.m., four minutes before hijackers crashed the first plane into the north tower. It arrived at the PATH station below the World Trade Center at about 8:52 a.m. The entire station was evacuated, and the train was abandoned. No one was in the station when the towers collapsed.
Authorities found the train days after the attacks. Cars 745 and 143 were the only ones not crushed. The cars were removed and spent the next several years in a hangar at Kennedy International Airport. Car 143 is now at the Trolley Museum of New York in Troy.
The Shore Line Trolley Museum asked about car 745, and the Port Authority agreed to donate it.
The car arrived in East Haven last year amid a ceremonial welcome that included a parade, bagpipers and speeches. Then work began to restore it.
Although it was in good shape, workers had to replace windows that were popped out by rescuers looking for survivors and fix some damage caused by the crane that lifted it out of the ruins. Dust from years in storage was removed. Most of the passenger hand straps had to be replaced.
“It looks exactly like it did on Sept. 11 at 8:30,” said Conrad Misek, a conservator for the museum, who did much of the restoration work.
The feeling inside the car is much different than that in the museum’s nearly 100 other cars, which take people on happy trips back in time. It is a serious and reflective vibe inside 745.
Proto remembers the first time he boarded 745 after it arrived at the museum.
“It was sobering,” he said. “You almost don’t feel right sitting in the seats.”
Alan Zelazo, a retired PATH engineer from Parsippany, New Jersey, and museum volunteer, calls car 745 a piece of history and is glad the museum acquired it. He didn’t work the morning of the attacks, having been scheduled for later that day.
“The car was a survivor,” he said. “It gives us a lesson … to not forget, to see what happened that day, to see how many heroes there were that day.”