World Trade Center: A 2014 update
Spire raising at Ground Zero causes tears to fall; cheers to rise
The WTC's Star Spangled Spire
One WTC Video Time Lapse
It was a ceremony these macho construction men had been through before. But this one was different. When the flag draped spire of One World Trade Center was hoisted into place over Ground Zero, some of the men shed a tear, while others cheered or took pictures.
All is quiet today on the street next to One World Trade Center as work continues inside. The scene differs from May 2, 2013, when seemingly every head was tilted up watching the spire slowly moved into place.
The crane operator took 40 minutes to carefully lift the 22-ton spire 104-stories to the building’s top. The event marked a major step in the rebirth of downtown New York, a dozen years after 9/11.
One of those who stood transfixed as he looked up and watched the 75-feet tall structure being moved into place was construction worker James Barrows. “Seeing the American flag, my eye gets teary,” he admitted to the New York Daily News. “It means a lot,” Barrows said. “New York needs it. America needs it.”
In the weeks after this event, workers attached the spire containing TV antennas to One World Trade Center bringing the building to a symbolic 1,776 feet tall and making it the tallest building in the U.S.
The spire has a communications platform filled with radio and television transmission equipment. It also contains 288 50-watt LED modules that can be seen 50 miles away – on a clear night. In the fall of 2013, the spire's state-of-the-art lighting unit was illuminated in red, white and blue and the beacon at its summit was seen for miles.
Memorials and offices share the new World Trade Center site
Numerous security measures at One World Trade Center
With an eye on future terrorist attacks, major safety and security improvements are incorporated in the design of the new building, known as 1 World Trade. These features include:
- 3-foot thick reinforced concrete walls on all stairwells, elevator shafts, risers and sprinkler systems.
- a set of stairwells has been dedicated exclusively for the use of firefighters.
- biological and chemical filters in the ventilation system.
- windows on the side of the building facing West Street are equipped with specially tempered blast-resistant plastic, which looks nearly the same as the glass used on the rest of the building’s exterior.
The terrain at Ground Zero has changed dramatically in the last few years. In 2012, the building broke through the New York City skyline, a pair of memorial pools and a park was completed.
However, the opening of the underground museum was delayed when seven feet of water poured into the facility after Hurricane Sandy hit New York in October 2012. The museum opened May 2014. (See more details below.)
Soon after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush, New York Governor George Pataki and NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani came to Ground Zero and vowed to rebuild the World Trade Center.
However, the project stalled for a long time because of bickering between numerous groups (families of the 9/11 victims, the Port Authority- owners of the 16 acres site, government leaders and community leaders). They couldn't decide on how this special space should be developed.
The squabble and the design process lasted for over 40 months. An original thousand proposals were narrowed down to 50, then six. Along the way, these plans were inspected, discussed and redesigned. In June 2005, a final design was selected. But New Yorkers remained frustrated for three more years before they saw evidence of construction.
This lengthy examination of proposals led to a two-prong project. The original World Trade site was divided into a green area for remembering and a massive skyscraper for commerce.
If you visit this historic site, here's what you'll find:
► The Main Skyscraper
UPDATE- Exterior work: Complete. Interior work: Continues. Opening: Late 2014.
This $3.8 billion, 3 million square foot building is called One World Trade Center or simply 1 World Trade. The building, formerly called the Freedom Tower, contains 2.6 million square feet of office space, (about half of it will be the headquarters of publisher Condé Nast), restaurants, a below-ground retail complex and underground access to other buildings and a mass transit hub.
An observation deck is located 1,362 feet above the ground (at 100 stories). The floor to ceiling glass windows offer spectacular 360-degree views of New York City. The skyscaper also houses a two-level broadcast facility, There's a square glass parapet at 1,368 feet, the height of the original Twin Towers. When the spire was bolted on top of the structure in 2013 the building topped off at 1,776 feet high, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the third-tallest building in the world.
President Barack Obama has visited the site several times, most notably in 2011 when he laid a wreath at the WTC soon after SEAL Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden.
During a June 2012 visit the president and other dignitaries signed the 28 feet long, 6 ton steel beam that topped off 1 World Trade. Above his name, President Obama wrote, "We remember. We rebuild. We come back stronger!" That beam was hoisted into place on Aug. 17, 2012. It marked the end of steel construction at 1 World Trade.
The building was substantially completed in late 2013 at least that's the view from the sidewalk. Work is continuing on interior walls, utilities and office furnishings. The building is expected to open in 2014.
Video view of "Survivor Tree"
► The 9/11 Memorial
UPDATE- Opened: 2011
The memorial consists of a 6-acre tree lined park and two shallow pools forming the footprints of the former north and south towers.
The 2,977 names of the 9/11 victims are inscribed in a short bronze wall along the perimeter of the pools. Waterfalls cascading down their sides symbolize the loss of life and the physical void left by the terrorist attacks, according to the pools designer architect Michael Arad.
The memorial plaza contains over 400 trees, including the “Survivor Tree.” It was recovered from the rubble in 2001 and nursed back to life.
At the time it was salvaged, the badly burned 8-feet tall callery pear tree had only one living branch. The ash covered tree was brought to a Bronx nursery where it recovered. The tree grew to a height of 30-feet and in 2010 it was replanted at the WTC site as a symbol of hope and rebirth.
The 9/11 Memorial officially opened to the public on Sept. 12, 2011. In its first year more than 4.5 million people visited the site.
$2 visitor passes are required to visit the Memorial Pools. To request a pass, check the 9/11 Memorial's FAQ webpage.
9/11 Museum by the numbers
- 2 firetrucks
- 3 parts of the exhibit (the day, before 9/11 and after 9/11)
- 580 hours of video
- 1,995 oral histories
- 12,500 artifacts
WTC project by the numbers
- 5 express elevator in 1 WTC
- 6 office buildings in the World Trade Center complex
- 16 acres is the size of the World Trade Center complex
- 30 foot waterfalls in each pool
- 45 seconds is how fast the express elevators can reach the top
- 71 elevators in 1 WTC
- 104 floors – 1,368 feet
- 400+ Swamp White Oaks are planted in the Memorial Plaza
- 1,362 feet is the height of the observation deck
- 1,776 feet is the height to the top of the spire
- 2,500+ people worked on the 1 WTC project every day
- 45,000 tons of steel is in 1 WTC – enough to build six Eiffel Towers
- 450,000 gallons of water is contained in each Memorial Pool
- $700 million is the current cost of the 9/11 Museum
- 2.6 million sq. ft.of floor space
- 3 million visitors annually are expected to visit WTC
- 4.5 million people visited the 9/11 Memorial its first year
- $3.8 billion is the cost of 1 World Trade's construction
► The 9/11 Museum
UPDATE- Opened: May 2014
Visitors will enter the underground museum through an angular pavilion designed to resemble a nearly destroyed building, mirroring the attacks of 9/11.
Using visuals and sound recordings, the museum tells the story of the terrorist attacks that leveled the two towers on Sept. 11, 2001 and it memorializes the 2,977 people killed that day. Photos of the victims cover the walls of a gallery. Elsewhere visitors can use touch screens to see biographical portraits of these people.
The massive 110,000-square-foot museum extends seven stories underground to the bedrock. Once you reach the bottom the museum expands to encompass the property under the park and pools.
Just inside the museum's tall glass and steel atrium are two enormous 90-feet tall steel columns or tridents that survived the terrorist attacks and came to symbolize endurance in the face of catastrophe.
The tridents are among the larger items on display, also included are a twisted and charred fire truck, a concrete "Survivors Staircase," which hundreds of people used to escape from the World Trade Center and a portion of a jet that the terrorist used as a massive weapon. There's also a huge cross formed from steel beams, which was discovered in the rubble.
The museum's more than 12,000 artifacts include numerous small items unearthed from the Ground Zero debris. There are several helmets and hats worn by firefighters and policemen, a rumpled and charred wallet, a partially melted phone and a rag-doll.
Also on display are numerous images and audio tapes, such as photos of firefighters heading into the towers and recordings of last phone calls between loved ones.
Journalists, who have previewed the facility, caution that the sights and sounds visitors encounter in the museum will trigger an emotional response, likely to bring many people to tears.
The museum "delivers a gut-punch experience," explained The New York Times’ Holland Cotter. "It’s emotionally overwhelming, particularly, I expect, for New Yorkers who were in the city on that apocalyptic September day."
The reporter notes that the most devastating materials, "like video stills of people leaping from the towers, are set in alcoves with advisory notices, but even things not usually considered shocking can leave you dumbstruck."
The layout of the museum has several exits throughout the facility that allow visitors to decide how much of the most emotional exhibits they wish to experience. The museum designers also have included boxes of tissues throughout the displays, which visitors may use.
Admission tickets are $24 ($18 for seniors, veterans and college students). They are available at 911memorial.org/museum. The museum operates using a timed reservation system. Museum tickets include access to the 9/11 Memorial Pools.
The building's $700 million has been funded by a foundation with monies coming from local, state and federal governments and individual donations.
With annual museum operating cost projected to be $60 million a year, the foundation made a controversial decision to charge an admission fee of $24. A proposal to take donations, rather than charge admission, was rejected by the foundation. Many NYC officials and 9/11 families complained about this decision. The museum then announced that it will have a free night on Tuesdays (5 to 8 pm) when no admission will be charged.
About 2 million annual visitors are expected at the 9/11 Museum.
► Other WTC Towers–
Five smaller office buildings will be built circling the memorial site. Four are under construction and are scheduled to open by 2016.
UPDATE: 4 World Trade was topped off on June 25, 2012 and opened in November 2013. This 72-story building, which will eventually be home to the Port Authority, features a stunning 46 by 150 feet lobby that looks out onto the 9/11 Memorial. –TDowling
© 2013 Thomas Dowling