As the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death looms, the new One World Trade Center inches above the Empire State Building to become the tallest in New York City:
(CSMonitor) — One World Trade Center, the giant monolith being built to replace the twin towers destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks, will lay claim to the title of New York City’s tallest skyscraper on Monday. Workers will erect steel columns that will make its unfinished skeleton a little over 1,250 feet high, just enough to peak over the roof of the observation deck on the Empire State Building.
The milestone is a preliminary one. Workers are still adding floors to the so-called “Freedom Tower” and it isn’t expected to reach its full height for at least another year, at which point it is likely to be declared the tallest building in the U.S., and third tallest in the world. Those bragging rights, though, will carry an asterisk.
The article linked above has a nice rundown of tallest building criteria, including the debate over antennas or spires; should they count or not?
Like all Americans I watched in horror on 9-11 as the towers burned and fell. It was only by a slim twist of fate that I wasn’t there when it happened: I was supposed to be but managed to get out of it. One of those towers was the HQ of the firm where I had worked for many years. I was actually talking to someone who worked midway up on the phone when the other tower was first hit, she had no idea what had happened, only mentioning there might be a fire drill in progress and she had to go. I did not know for days if she made out alive. A few years earlier when the garage bombs had gone off (A day when a close friend was eating lunch at the Windows on the World at the tippy top of the tower, and came home with quite a story) residents of the World Trade Centers began drilling and prepping for a brisk, orderly evac.
In the end, my company only lost a handful of people out of many thousands on the job high above ground zero that day. That will never be a miracle to the friends and family of those who perished, but it could have been so much worse. Call it poetic justice: that first terror attack in 1993 probably ultimately saved many times the number of people it initially killed.
As part of my initial training for that company I even lived in what was then called the Vista Hotel for a month in 1990, it was a 20 odd story building sitting between and dwarfed by the two World Trade Centers, with a postcard view of the Statue of Liberty from the gym where I worked out: Manhattan in May, it was beautiful. That hotel was subsequently bought and named something else, maybe more than once, not that it matters now, it’s long gone, crushed into gravel and twisted steel under millions of metrics tons of debris when both towers embracing it collapsed.
The project to rebuild has since been fraught with bickering and mismanagement, various factions emerged, one powerful group arguing the site is sacred and should be a reflecting park of sorts, while others pointed out this is some of the most expensive real estate on earth and cannot lay fallow. But at least this week clear progress will be made as the new building, Freedom Tower, will meet an important vertical milestone and reclaim its title. Such as it is.
I was surprised, a year ago when the news of bin Laden’s fate hit the media like an atomic bomb, that for a moment tears came unexpectedly to my eyes. Lately, whenever either one of those horrible days comes to mind in 1993 or 2001, somewhere, not far away, is the grim satisfaction that no one involved in the massacres was an atheist, far from it. And at the risk of sounding naive or bloodthirsty, I’m glad to hear the new tower is growing toward the sky, and very, very glad Osama bin Laden is dead.