A Brief History
On November 3, 2014, America’s newest skyscraper opened on the site in New York City of the former World Trade Center Twin Towers that were destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Also referred to as The Freedom Tower, WTC 1, 1 World Trade Center or One WTC, the new building usually called One World Trade Center instantly became the tallest building in the United States, as well as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and ranked #6 among the tallest buildings in the world.
Originally opened in 1973, the original World Trade Center complex consisted of 7 buildings, of which the “twin towers” were at the time the tallest buildings in the world. Replacing the Empire State Building as the premier part of the New York skyline, the World Trade Center was the physical manifestation of America’s preeminence in the world. Such a symbolic presence would of course draw the envy and ire of the enemy’s of the United States and the way of life represented by the democracy and capitalism represented by the massive buildings. Towering over 1360 feet above the Manhattan sidewalks, the twin towers were a target for spiteful and hateful enemies of America and the general Western world.
In 1993 Islamic terrorists attempted to destroy the World Trade Center by parking a van filled with 1500 pounds of explosives in the underground parking garage beneath the North Tower. The subsequent enormous explosion failed to take the building down, but did cause massive damage, a 100 foot hole up through the first 5 stories of the building. Fortunately, only 6 people were killed, though over 1000 were injured in the terrorist attack. The perpetrators were later caught and sent back to the US for trial.
On September 11, 2001, 2 separate jet airliners were hijacked by Islamic extremist terrorists and flown into each of the twin towers, resulting in both enormous skyscrapers completely crumbling to the ground. Of the 17,000 people inside the twin towers at the time of the attacks, 2753 were killed. Incredibly, most of the others escaped and survived. Incidents of heroism by first responders and by fellow victims were indicative of the resolute nature of Americans.
This resolute nature was apparent when Americans spontaneously and nearly unanimously vowed to rebuild the World Trade Center in defiance of those terrorists and enemies of the United States and the American people. Of course, the average American could do little other than offer moral support, but in time adequate funding was found to finance a rebuilding which was strongly supported and encouraged by all levels of government. The new building suffered delays in starting and completing the project, with construction started in 2006, but ultimately the complex owned and operated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey finally opened on November 3, 2014. The main building of the new World Trade Center complex is One World Trade Center, a massive 104 story skyscraper that towers 1368 feet above the street level, just like the original. When the spire atop the building is added to the consideration of height, that number stretches to a staggering 1776 feet, a number purposely reminiscent of the founding year of the United States. Floor area of the main building is over 3.5 million square feet. Other buildings in the new World Trade Center complex include those reaching heights of 1079 feet, 978 feet and 741 feet respectively, giant skyscrapers in their own right. A memorial to previous terrorist victims and a museum of the original complex are also located at the new World Trade Center.
The centerpiece of the new World Trade Center complex, One World Trade Center, cost about $3.8 billion to construct, while the second tallest building in the new complex, 2 WTC, was expected to exceed that cost, reaching about $4 billion (2015 estimate). The original complex cost about $400 million to complete.
Whether or not you “heart” New York, the fact is that New York City is the biggest city in the United States and is symbolic of the wealth and power of this country, a symbol of America to the rest of the world. As such the Big Apple and its major buildings and landmarks will always be a target to those that wish the United States harm. By rebuilding the World Trade Center Americans have made a tangible statement to the world that the US will not be defeated by terrorism or any other actions by those that seek our demise. People around the world have often shown such resilience in the face of attacks and disasters, which gives us some reason to be optimistic about the future of humankind. What do you think?
Questions for Students (and others): Did you previously know about the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center? Was it worth the money and effort to rebuild on the same site? Are gigantic buildings an indulgence that makes those that work there targets for terrorists? Do you know which buildings in the world are taller than One World Trade Center?
Trivia: Until 1966, the tallest building in the world not located in New York City was the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, Ohio, at 771 feet tall.
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For more information, please see…
Cummins, Joseph. Rise of Freedom (Enhanced): The New World Trade Center. Harper, 2011.
Robbins, Anthony. The World Trade Center (Classics of American Architecture). Thompson & Columbus, 2013.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by John D. Morris showing how when viewed from street level at close proximity, One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) appears to ascend to a pyramid point as seen in this view of the West Street side of the building, June 8, 2014, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You are free:
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