World Trade Center: history and reconstruction of New York’s most famous skyscraper

One World Trade Center is the tallest skyscraper in the whole of the western hemisphere and the one with the most famous history.

In the history of the World Trade Center, as is well-known, there is a before and an after. The World Trade Centre of New York City, located in the southern part of Manhattan Island, was the target of the worst terrorist attack in history: on 11 September 2001, the eyes of the entire world were turned to the World Trade Center and, in particular, the Twin Towers, struck one after the other by two Boeing 767 aeroplanes. After being completely razed to the ground in the subsequent months, the World Trade Center has come back to life, with the construction of five new skyscrapers, a memorial to the victims of the attacks and an impressive transport terminal. Where the Twin Towers once stood, the famous One World Trade Center skyscraper was built, the tallest skyscraper in the city and, indeed, the western hemisphere.

New York’s World Trade Center : its history until 2001

Back in the early nineteenth forties, at the height of the Second World War, consideration started to be given to a World Trade Center in New York. Only in the sixties, however, did the idea take shape through the creation of the Lower Manhattan Association, founded by David Rockefeller.

In 1962, Minoru Yamasaki was chosen as the lead architect, with the support of Emery Roth and Sons as associate architects. Yamasaki’s initial project included the construction of two large twin towers but, originally, they were only intended to be 80 stories tall. The works were assigned to the port authority of New York and New Jersey for a project that, overall, would cost around 330 million dollars, an exorbitant amount for the nineteen sixties.

When the works were completed, the total cost would be more than 900 million dollars. The area involved in the construction of the World Trade Centre covered around 12 million square feet, enough to accommodate 7 different buildings. The first stone of the future World Trade Centre was laid on 5 August 1966. The World Trade Center’s opening ceremony was held on 4 April 1973.

At the heart of the new complex were obviously the two huge Twin Towers, that is, the North Tower (1 WTC , One World Trade Center) and the South Tower (2 WTC, Two World Trade Center), respectively 1,368 and 1,362 feet tall, each with 110 storeys. When they were built, they were hailed as the tallest skyscrapers on the planet. The first differed from the second due to a very high antenna positioned on top that brought its height overall to 1,728 feet. The other buildings of the World Trade Centre were much smaller, beginning with 3 WTC, the famous Vista Hotel, bought by the Marriott corporation in the nineteen nineties and standing 242 feet tall with 22 storeys.

An attempt was made to blow up the Twin Towers in 1993, which led to the deaths of six people, without, however, compromising the load-bearing structure of the skyscrapers. As is sadly well-known, the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 was fatal. The Twin Towers collapse soon after the Boeing aeroplanes crashed into them. The 7 WTC collapsed some hours later while the other buildings of New York’s financial heart were compromised and had to be demolished in the subsequent months.

A new World Trade Center

In the months immediately after the attack, the possibility of reconstructing the World Trade Center was already starting to be discussed. In 2003, Studio Daniel Libeskind won the competition announced by the city of New York for the site’s reconstruction, later drawing in other architects for the design of the individual buildings. The construction of the new World Trade Center began in 2006. Today, 5 skyscrapers stand in the area of Ground Zero, some of which are still being completed. In addition to those buildings, the 9/11 Memorial, the 9/11 Museum and the 9/11 Tribute Museum were built in the World Trade Centre complex, as well as the famous Transportation Hub, the stunning building designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

The tallest skyscraper erected on the site of Ground Zero is One World Trade Centre, completed in 2014. Next tallest is 2 World Trade Center, which will have a total height of 1,340 feet when completed, forecast for 2024. The first of the new skyscrapers to be completed was 7 World Trade Center, which opened in 2006, with a total height of 743 feet: the building was acclaimed for its high level of environmental sustainability.

The specifications of One World Trade Center

In Lower Manhattan, everyone’s eyes are drawn to One World Trade Center, known to all as Freedom Tower.

Its height, including the antenna, is 1,792 feet with a total of 99 floors. Without its antenna, the skyscraper’s height would measure 1,368 feet, the same as the earlier Twin Towers. This enormous skyscraper was designed by the architect David Childs, who was also responsible for designing 7 World Trade Center. It all lies on a 185-foot concrete base and rises up to a special section with rounded corners (starting from the twentieth floors, to reduce the load created by the wind) before forming a perfect central octagon.

The observer is struck by its mirrored, vibrant surface, which lights up when touched by the sun’s rays, changing its appearance with the passing of the hours. To protect the tower from any terrorist attacks at ground level, the skyscraper has a reinforced concrete base 185 feet high, without windows and clad with stainless steel panels and glass fins and, above, large, tensile-structure windows 60 feet high. The overall cost of the construction of One World Trade Center was 3.9 billion dollars, around one billion more than the original estimates, due in part to the cutting-edge security systems incorporated in the building. These include extra-wide pressurised stairwells, multiple backups for electrical system and biochemical filters. A technical and architectural marvel.