For Those of Us Who Still Care


A U.S. flag flutters in the wind as the final piece of One World Trade Center‘s spire is lifted to the top of the building in New York, May 2, 2013. Crane operators hoisted the final pieces of the spire on Thursday, helping to fill the void in the New York City skyline that was left by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Ironworkers will finish installing the spire, which weighs about 800 tons (725 metric tons) and is 400 feet (122 meters) tall, at a later date. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES



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“Can’t See The Top Of The Empire State Building”

Media_httpelectricegg_jbjjyOn the morning of July 28, 1945, a U.S. B-25 bomber piloted by Lt. Colonel William Smith, was flying a routine mission from Bedford, Mass. to Newark Airport in New Jersey; the weather was rainy with a thick overcast. He inexplicably appeared over New York Municipal Airport (now LaGuardia ) and requested a weather report. The Municipal tower warned  Smith of poor weather conditions and advised him to land immediately, but he requested and received permission to continue on to Newark. Municipal tower’s final transmission to the plane were the ominous words,  “From where I’m sitting [less than 2 miles away], I can’t see the top of the Empire State Building.”

Conditions were growing worse as the steady rain quickly changed over to a dense fog with visibility near zero at altitudes higher than 2,000 feet. Now over Manhattan, but losing his approach vector to Newark, Smith lowered the plane to regain his bearings. The B-25 suddenly  found itself in New York City‘s famed canyon of skyscrapers, flying at less than 900 feet, and Smith also realized that he was on a collision course with one of these skyscrapers:  the New York Central Building. He quickly banked to the west, (putting more drag on the plane and reducing its speed and maneuverability at such a low altitude) and was able miss that building, but also putting himself in line with another skyscraper and then another…until the Empire State Building loomed dead ahead.

At 9:49 a.m., as people on the ground watched in stunned disbelief and fear, the doomed plane struck the north side of the Empire State Building at nearly 200 mph, tearing a hole 18 feet wide and twenty feet high from its point of impact at the 79th floor. Its high-octane fuel tanks exploded and poured flames and pieces of wreckage along the sides of the building, through offices areas, and down hallways and stairwells. Several office workers were killed instantly, reduced to charred remains still seated at their desks. Smith, his two crew members, and 11 people working at their desks were killed; over two dozen more were injured. The workers were on the staff of the National Catholic Welfare Service, now known as Catholic Relief Services.

“Thought we’d been bombed,” Doris Pope, Boynton Beach, Fl. told the The Palm Beach Post in 1999. “I worked for the Office of Office of Price Administration in the Empire State Building. That day, as we were getting ready to take our coffee break, we heard this terrible noise, and the building started to shake. … As we looked out our third-floor window, we saw debris fall on to the street. We immediately thought New York was being bombed.”  ABC News

New York City would’ve had no idea what was to occur 56 years later.

Belatedly Towering Again

A lot of time and effort, dalliance and hokum, went into the construction of One World Trade Center. The former Ground Zero appeared to have become a perpetual construction site; a never-ending project of purported self-esteem as costly, unmanageable and exploited as the “war on terror” that began there. Nevertheless, the reborn WTC will again, in 1-2 (?) years, be one of the tallest buildings in the world.

One World Trade is being built on the site of the original World Trade Center towers – or Twin Towers. They were the tallest buildings in the city, but were destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, in which an estimated 3,000 people were killed.

The progression of construction on One World Trade can be seen in a two-minute, time-lapse video from EarthCam, the international webcam technology company. ABC News

I, along with most New Yorkers, remember the morning of September 11 2001 very well. Even remembering it during convoluted days, fraught with irresponsible leadership, questionable ambitions and braggadocio spiel, which made such memories easily if unfortunately forgettable.

related post: WTC: On The Rise?

WTC: On The Rise?

If all goes according to plan, we may yet see a new World Trade Center emerge in our lifetime. For seven years after the 9/11 attack, Ground Zero remained essentially a barren pit of motley construction hatched, for the most part, from a potpourri of architectural snarls and contractual dead-ends. The controversy over the projected form and function of a resurrected WTC seemed endless indeed; its commercial viability as opposed to its commemorative aesthetic resulted in ceaseless debate and tortuous irresolution.

While the controversy went on heatedly and progress remained frozen, Ground Zero was reduced to being “a dust bowl in summer and mud pit in winter” [NYT]; of diminishing interest, as the years passed, to both tourists and residents alike. We had grown so accustomed to referring to this dawdling construction site as Ground Zero we couldn’t see or think of it as anything else…merely a pathetic wasteland resting in a futile state of suspended animation.

Nevertheless, during the latter stage of this “dust bowl / mud pit” limbo, over 300,000 square feet of ground had been cleared to form the shell of NYC’s third-largest train station. Two more skyscrapers are now suddenly rising to join the only heretofore visible sign of progress: the gleaming 7 World Trade Center (on September 11, 2001, the last of the seven buildings to fall) is now complete. Rapid progress is quite suddenly being made; and I, at least for the moment, will suspend disbelief and accept reports that this rapid progress will indeed continue without any further delays or interruptions.

The BBC outlines the projected World Trade Center as follows:

Tower 1 – The centrepiece, formerly known as Freedom Tower and now as One World Trade Center. Its planned height is 1,776ft (540m) echoing the date of the founding of the republic. It will be America’s tallest building, housing offices, an observation deck, restaurants and broadcast facilities. The project architect is David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Estimated completion date is 2013.

Tower 2 – Also known as 200 Greenwich St. At 79 storeys high with a diamond shaped top and an 80-foot antenna, it will be the second-tallest skyscraper in NYC.

Tower 3 – Also known as 175 Greenwich St, it will be the third-tallest building on the site and include shops, offices, trading floors. It’s scheduled for completion in 2014.

Tower 4The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the City of New York will take two-thirds of the office space at 150 Greenwich St. It is due for completion in 2013. Towers 3 and 4 were designed by architects Richard Rogers and Fumihiko Maki.

Tower 5 – 130 Liberty Street will stand on the site currently occupied by the remains of the Deutsche Bank building, which was badly damaged by the 9/11 attacks. New York University has expressed an interest in leasing the building.

Plans for a Tower 6 were abandoned.

Tower 7 – or 7 World Trade Center, opened in May 2006 and is two-thirds leased. It includes a park and central plaza with 30ft-wide fountain. Tenants include its owner Silverstein Properties and Moody’s Corporation, WestLB, Ameriprise Financial, Dutch bank ABN AMRO, and Mansueto Ventures, publisher of Fast Company and Inc magazines.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum comprises a museum, waterfalls and a park.

The museum is being constructed underground and will boast interactive displays explaining the 9/11 and 1993 terrorist attacks, as well as the part of the huge slurry wall that held back the Hudson River during the attacks.

At the twin towers there will be two massive waterfalls over illuminated pools. Names of the 9/11 victims and those of the February 1993 World trade Centre attacks will be inscribed around the edge of the memorial called Reflecting Absence and designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker.

The 1,000-seat performance arts centre to be designed by Frank Gehry will be home to the Joyce Theater which specialises in modern dance. Film festivals will also be held there.

The transportation hub will house a state-of-the-art rail terminal featuring retractable 150ft (46m) high “wings” made of glass and steel will let natural light to pass through to platforms 60ft (18m) below street level.

Once more, we could only hope that all goes according to plan and that the scar which was Ground Zero will  finally become the World Trade Center again.

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