In some cases, Harbor Authority workers were able to replace destroyed records with copies from outside contractors who had worked on projects as well as with personal records of retirees and online searches for used books.

But many items were unique, like the original 1921 charter for the Port Authority and thousands of glass slides from the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, which was later taken over by the Port Authority as part of a deal to get New Jersey’s approval for the World Mall. Then known as the Hudson Tubes, it became the PATH.

Mr Rinaldi, 72, recalls an afternoon about a month after the attacks, when he was part of an emergency response and recovery team that unearthed several boxes full of photos of archives of the Port Authority. “We started to grab them and put them aside,” he said. “We were able to save a lot. “

Many former Port Authority employees also sent photos, books, reports and letters they had kept from their time at the agency to help recover some of the historical documents. “The Port Authority is a pretty close-knit family,” Doblin said. “There is a very special connection that exists.”

Mr Kelly, who retired as the agency’s director of aviation in 1999, shipped a three-foot-wide bronze plaque of the Port Authority seal that once stood on the floor of the lobby of a former agency headquarters, a huge terminal in Chelsea, which today houses Google. The seal was removed when the port authority moved to the World Trade Center.

Mr Kelly, whose father worked as a mechanic for the Port Authority, was presented with the seal at a farewell party hosted by colleagues in the late 1970s when he changed jobs to the agency. “I guess they knew I was a real Port Authority rookie,” he said.

Mr. Kelly hung the 75-pound plaque on the wall of his den, first in New Jersey and later in Georgia. As the agency neared its centennial, Mr. Kelly decided to return the seal. It is now displayed outside the agency meeting room at 4 World Trade Center.

“I know they lost a lot of precious possessions in this building along with a lot of precious people,” he said. “I thought they should have this.”


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