Starting Tuesday, the city medical examiner's office will search for possible human remains in a Lower Manhattan alleyway where a piece of wreckage believed to be from one of the planes hijacked on September 11th was discovered.
Police believe the five-feet tall, four-feet long object is a piece of landing gear, and it was found behind 51 Park Place on Wednesday morning by surveyors inspecting the site, located three blocks from the World Trade Center.
Officials say the object has a clearly visible Boeing identification number.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said it is not clear how the 17-inch-wide object got into the 18-inch-wide alley. He said a piece of rope appeared to be wrapped around it, and authorities are not ruling out the possibility that the object was lowered into the alley.
There are also no marks on the walls beside the alleyway.
However, police say the rope could have fallen from the roof of the building, which has been under renovation.
The site, 51 Park Place, is the location of an Islamic community center that attracted significant controversy in 2011, when developers announced plans to build a new structure.
A spokesperson says the Park51 center is working with authorities to remove the part carefully, effectively and quickly.
The owner of a barbershop across from the site, Ray Tahlov, had to relocate his business from Chambers Street after September 11th. He wondered what other rubble or human remains could be found in the area.
"I don't know what happened. I don't know how this thing happens after 11-and-a-half years," Tahlov said. "I think if they check around the buildings, maybe they can find... who knows?"
Albert Britton stood by Park51, taking pictures. He saw the second plane hit the South Tower on September 11th, and this new discovery reopened painful memories.
"Surprising, hard to believe it came this far too," Britton said. "You kind of, like, have flashbacks from that day. I have thought a lot in the last 12 hours."
"I'm surprised because the whole area must have been searched time and time again. I'm amazed a piece as big as that wouldn't have been found by somebody," a nearby tourist said.
Some families of September 11th victims have been pushing for a new search of the area for years.
"I feel sorry for the thousand families who haven't had a funeral who don't have a cemetery to go to. They deserve it," said Jim Riches, a retired FDNY deputy fire chief who lost his son on September 11th.
The plane wreckage is expected to be removed on Monday.