If you want to eat at One or either of the ‘curated eateries’ at One World Trade Center, it’s $32 just to walk in
Access to the upcoming One World Observatory comes with a hefty fee.
Customers looking to patronize One World Trade Center will need to cough up a $32 fee if they even want to think about eating anything at the upcoming One World Observatory, the three-level complex that will include the fine-dining restaurant One and two “curated eateries.”
In a press release that announced its May 29 opening date, the Observatory listed its pricing details: $32 is the price tag for anyone between 13 and 64, while children between 6 and 12 will only need $26; seniors 65 and older must play $30. Admission will be free for those who lost family members in the 9/11 attacks and those who were part of the rescue efforts.
While the ticket price includes access to the entire Observatory, which will also feature a number of installations, including “a virtual time-lapse that recreates the development of New York City's skyline from the 1600s to present day,” guests will not be able to access any of the food options without purchasing a ticket.
It was not so with Windows on the World, the venerable fine-dining restaurant from Michael Lomonaco, now the chef of Porter House New York, which was located on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower.
“At Windows, we ran several different restaurants,” the chef told The New York Post. “You could come up to the bar, have a soft drink and a burger, enjoy the views, and leave. There was never a cover charge.”
Review: The newly opened $4-billion World Trade Center transit hub is overwrought and underwhelming
Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center transportation hub, whose soaring main hall opened to the public earlier this month, suggests an approach to architectural image-making right on the border between flexible and opportunistic.
God knows there’s more going on here than mere function: At just under $4 billion, or double the original estimate, for a building that serves a small fraction of the travelers who use Grand Central or Pennsylvania Station every day, the transit hub is meant not just to accommodate but nearly consecrate the act of commuting by train.
Certainly Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels make clear that the transit station remains among the most deeply fraught 21st century building types.
So far the local reaction to the Calatrava design has split along price-value lines, with more than a few writers labeling it a boondoggle and defenders pointing out that future New Yorkers may admire it without thinking about what it cost, just as current ones have no idea what their tax-paying great-great-grandparents spent to put up the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the World Trade Center site and built the station, has been so chastened by the cost overruns and construction delays that it declined to hold even a modest ribbon-cutting. When a bureaucracy turns down a major opportunity to pat itself on the back, you know things have turned sour. Turned acid, really.
Still, everyone seems to agree that the main hall, which stretches beneath a glass and white-steel roof and which Calatrava calls the Oculus, is beautiful. But I didn’t find it beautiful, at least not in the way that Calatrava’s finest work, fluid and precise, often is. I found it structurally overwrought and emotionally underwhelming, straining for higher meaning, eager to wring some last drops of mournful power from a site that is already crammed with official, semi-official and indirect memorials.
There is no doubt that as you approach the building on foot — especially from the east, in the morning, with the rising sun at your back — the first glimpse of its spreading wings provides a thrill. Even when you notice that those wings have been sliced off on each side in an asymmetrical cut, to make room for an office tower on one side that has already been built and on the other side one that is in the works, the overall effect is pulse-quickening.
Much of that allure fades after you make your way inside the Oculus, which is ringed by shops at ground level and along a mezzanine and lined with a great expanse of white Italian marble. (The shops are due to open later this year.) This is a curious room, with its gargantuan scale and its double-sided symbolism, allowing it from the outside to suggest wings and flight and from the inside bones and death.
It features some familiar Calatrava techniques, in other words, with its symmetrical filigree of repeating white forms set into glass, but draws its real power from an unusual mixture of infrastructural scale and commemorative emotion. The architect, like countless others involved in the rebuilding process before him, saw the remade World Trade Center as a canvas on which to test out some grand ideas about political violence, remembrance and rebirth.
When the Port Authority held a news conference in early 2004 to make Calatrava’s design public, the architect drew a sketch for the assembled reporters of a child releasing a dove. He explained the wings of his station would move, allowing its roof to open dramatically to the sky. To celebrate the groundbreaking the following year, he and his daughter released actual doves.
Over time the number of steel ribs was doubled to armor the station against potential bomb blasts. The wings of the above-ground pavilion grew thicker, coated with fire-retardant material.
The Port Authority decided it would cost too much to make the wings operable. The roof has a narrow skylight that can open, but it’s a far cry from the original drawings.
Many of the interior details remain to be finished. To a large degree the building is a shell of what it will eventually be, at least in practical and retail terms. All the same, it was designed to a marked degree as a shell to begin with — a vast holding pen for sunlight, commuters, shoppers and the full breadth of Calatrava’s vision — which makes the act of reviewing it now seem not just possible but necessary.
When you stand inside the main hall and look up, what strikes you is not the airiness or lightness of the structure, as the exterior view promises, but instead its heaviness.
You are in the belly of the whale, considering its rib cage. The bones are just thick enough to obscure large sections of sky. If you position yourself carefully you can get a view more or less on axis with the thick torso of One World Trade Center, the skyscraper designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and finished in 2014.
Because it took so long to get built, the transit hub is a time-capsule message from the moment, not long after the 2001 attacks, when it dawned on a whole group of architects that the World Trade Center rebuilding process might be a useful springboard for their own ambitions.
It wasn’t, of course: It turned out to be more like a snake pit. Those architectural dreams, as self-serving as many of them were, were quickly battered or swept aside by the plans and timetables of various elected and appointed officials. (Nine different governors, five from New Jersey and four from New York, have had a hand in the rebuilding.) In that sense the fact that the Calatrava hub has opened at all — even in its semi-finished and value-engineered state — has suggested to some the enduring strength of great architecture, of the purity of the quest for aesthetic rather than political glory.
What it really marks is the triumph of architectural disunity at ground zero, which paradoxically ranks among the most aggressively planned patches of real estate in the country. Even as work continues on the transit hub, it is now clear what the rebuilt site will look like. Though there have been some minor victories along the edges, most notably the very fine 7 World Trade Center tower by Skidmore (with James Carpenter) and 4 World Trade by Fumihiko Maki, it’s a deeply dispiriting picture on the whole.
Because every major rebuilding gesture after Daniel Libeskind’s 2003 master plan has undercut or reacted strenuously against the ones that came before, we’re left with a collection of prominent designs — the sunken reflecting pools of Michael Arad’s memorial, the vast and crypt-like underground museum, the stolid One World Trade — that are aggressively mismatched. Each pursues an oversized scale as it jostles for space and attention. Each makes the case that it alone most effectively balances remembrance with resolve.
It’s difficult to say precisely how much of the $4 billion went to the part of the station that emerges above ground in Calatrava’s spiky white crown, as opposed to the platforms and tunnels and links to the subway network that do the infrastructural heavy lifting below.
But it is possible to say what that chunk of the budget paid for: yet another elaborate headstone in the crowded ground zero graveyard, albeit the most delicate and strikingly photogenic of the bunch.
The construction of the World Trade Center, of which the Twin Towers (One and Two World Trade Center) were the centerpieces, was conceived as an urban renewal project and spearheaded by David Rockefeller. The project was intended to help revitalize Lower Manhattan.  The project was planned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which hired architect Minoru Yamasaki. He came up with the idea of building twin towers. After extensive negotiations, the New Jersey and New York State governments, which supervise the Port Authority, consented to the construction of the World Trade Center at the Radio Row site, located in the lower-west area of Manhattan.  To satisfy the New Jersey government, the Port Authority agreed to buy the bankrupt Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (renamed to Port Authority Trans-Hudson), which transported commuters from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan. 
The towers were designed as framed tube structures, giving tenants open floor plans, unobstructed by columns or walls.   The framed tube design was introduced by Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan in the 1960s.  The design was accomplished by using many closely spaced perimeter columns, providing much of the structure's strength, with the gravity load shared with the core columns. The elevator system, which made use of sky lobbies and a system of express and local elevators, allowed substantial floor space to be used for office purposes by making the structural core smaller. The design and construction of the towers involved many other innovative techniques, such as wind tunnel experiments and the slurry wall for digging the foundation.   Yamasaki also incorporated elements of Islamic architecture in the building's design, having previously designed Saudi Arabia's Dhahran International Airport with the Saudi Binladin Group.  
Construction of the North Tower (One World Trade Center) began in August 1966 extensive use of prefabricated components sped up the construction process. The first tenants moved into the North Tower in October 1971.   In the 1970s, four other low-level buildings were built as part of the World Trade Center complex.   A seventh building was built in the mid-1980s.  
Specifications and operations
After Seven World Trade Center was built in the 1980s, the World Trade Center complex had a total of seven buildings however, the most notable ones were the main Twin Towers built in the 1970s—One World Trade Center was the North Tower, and Two World Trade Center was the South Tower.  Each tower was over 1,350 feet (410 m) high, and occupied about 1 acre (0.40 ha) of the total 16 acres (6.5 ha) of the site's land. During a press conference in 1973, Yamasaki was asked, "Why two 110-story buildings? Why not one 220-story building?" His response was, "I didn't want to lose the human scale." 
When it was topped out on October, 1971,  One World Trade Center became the tallest building in the world, surpassing the Empire State Building, which had held the record for 40 years. The North Tower was 1,368 feet (417 m) tall, and in 1978, a telecommunications antenna was added to the top of the roof by itself, the antenna was 360 feet (110 m) tall. With the 360-foot (110 m)-tall antenna, the highest point of the North Tower reached 1,728 ft (527 m).  However, the tower only held its record until May 1973 , when Chicago's Sears Tower (now Willis Tower), which was 1,450 feet (440 m) tall at the rooftop, was completed.  At 110 floors, the World Trade Center towers had more floors than any other building at that time.  This number was not surpassed until the construction of the Burj Khalifa (163 floors), which opened in 2010.  
Of the 110 stories, 8 were set aside as mechanical floors (floors 7/8, 41/42, 75/76, and 108/109), which were 4 two-floor areas that were spaced up the building in even intervals. All the remaining floors were open for tenants. Each floor of the tower had 40,000 square feet (3,700 m 2 ) of available space. The North and South tower had 3,800,000 square feet (350,000 m 2 ) of total office space.  The entire complex of seven buildings had a combined total of 13,400,000 square feet (1,240,000 m 2 ) of office space.   
The complex initially failed to attract the expected clientele. During the early years, various governmental organizations became key tenants of the World Trade Center, such as the State of New York. In the 1980s, the city's perilous financial condition eased, after which an increasing number of private companies—mostly financial firms related to Wall Street—became tenants. During the 1990s, approximately 500 companies had offices in the complex, including financial companies such as Morgan Stanley, Aon Corporation, and Salomon Brothers. The basement concourse of the World Trade Center included The Mall at the World Trade Center,  and a PATH station.  The North Tower became the main corporate headquarters of Cantor Fitzgerald,  and it also became the headquarters of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. 
The tower's electrical service was supplied by Consolidated Edison (ConEd) at 13,800 volts. The electricity passed through the World Trade Center Primary Distribution Center (PDC), and was then sent up the building's core to electrical substations located on the mechanical floors. The substations lowered the 13,800 primary voltage to 480/277 volts, and the voltage was then further lowered to 208/120 volts for general power and lighting services. The complex was also served by emergency generators located in the sub-levels of the towers and on the roof of Five World Trade Center.  
The 110th floor of One World Trade Center (the North Tower) housed radio and television transmission equipment. The roof of the North Tower contained a vast array of transmission antennas, including the 360 feet (110 m) center antenna mast, rebuilt by Dielectric Inc. to support DTV in 1999.  The center mast contained the television signals for almost all NYC television broadcasters: WCBS-TV 2, WNBC-TV 4, WNYW 5, WABC-TV 7, WWOR-TV 9 Secaucus, WPIX 11, WNET 13 Newark, WPXN-TV 31 and WNJU 47 Linden.  It also had four NYC FM broadcasters: WPAT-FM 93.1, WNYC 93.9, WKCR 89.9, and WKTU 103.5.  Access to the roof was controlled by the WTC Operations Control Center (OCC), located in the B1 level of the South Tower.  After the September 11 attacks of 2001, the broadcasting equipment for the radio and television stations was moved to the Empire State Building. 
On a typical weekday, a combined total of 50,000 people worked in the North and South Towers,  with another 140,000 passing through as visitors.  The complex was so large that it had its own zip code: 10048.  The Windows on the World restaurant, located on top of the North Tower, reported revenues of $37 million in 2000, making it the highest-grossing restaurant in the United States.  The Twin Towers became known worldwide, appearing in movies, television shows, postcards, and other merchandise. The towers came to be seen as a New York City icon, much like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Statue of Liberty. 
On February 13, 1975, a three-alarm fire broke out on the 11th floor of the North Tower. The fire spread through the core of the building to the 9th and 14th floors, as the insulation for telephone cables, located in a utility shaft that ran vertically between floors, had been ignited. Areas most affected by the fire were extinguished almost immediately, and the original fire was put out in a few hours.  Most of the damage was on the 11th floor, where the fire was fueled by cabinets filled with paper, alcohol-based fluid for office machines, and other office equipment. Fireproofing protected the steel,  and there was no structural damage to the tower.  In addition to the fire damage on the 9th and 14th floors, water used to extinguish the fire damaged a few floors below. At the time, the World Trade Center complex had no fire sprinkler systems. 
The first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center occurred on February 26, 1993, at 12:17 p.m., when a Ryder truck filled with 1,500 pounds (680 kg) of explosives, planted by Ramzi Yousef, detonated in the underground garage of the North Tower.  The blast resulted in a 100-foot (30 m) hole through five sublevels. The greatest damage was on levels B1 and B2, with significant structural damage on level B3.  Six people were killed, and more than a thousand were injured, as 50,000 workers and visitors were inside the tower at the time. Many people inside the North Tower were forced to walk down darkened stairwells that had no emergency lighting, and some took two hours or more to reach safety.  
September 11 attacks
At 8:46 a.m. (EDT) on September 11, 2001, five hijackers affiliated with al-Qaeda crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the northern facade of the North Tower between the 93rd and 99th floors.   Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03 a.m. (EDT), a second group of terrorists crashed the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 into the southern facade of the South Tower, striking between the 77th and 85th floors. 
By 9:59 a.m. (EDT), the South Tower collapsed after burning for approximately 56 minutes. After burning for 102 minutes, the North Tower collapsed due to structural failure at 10:28 a.m. (EDT).  When the North Tower collapsed, debris fell on the nearby 7 World Trade Center, damaging it and starting fires. The fires burned for hours, compromising the building's structural integrity. Seven World Trade Center collapsed at 5:21 p.m. (EDT).  
Together with a simultaneous attack on the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a failed plane hijacking that resulted in a plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people (2,507 civilians, 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers, 55 military personnel, and the 19 hijackers).    More than 90% of the workers and visitors who died in the towers had been at or above the points of impact.  In the North Tower, 1,355 people at or above the point of impact were trapped, and died of smoke inhalation, fell, jumped from the tower to escape the smoke and flames, or were killed when the building eventually collapsed. One stairwell in the South Tower, Stairwell A, somehow avoided complete destruction, unlike the rest of the building.  When Flight 11 hit, all three staircases in the North Tower above the impact zone were destroyed, thus making it impossible for anyone above the impact zone to escape. 107 people below the point of impact also died. 
Planning and early development
Following the destruction of the original World Trade Center, there was debate regarding the future of the World Trade Center site. There were proposals for its reconstruction almost immediately, and by 2002, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation had organized a competition to determine how to use the site.  The proposals were part of a larger plan to memorialize the September 11 attacks and rebuild the complex.   When the public rejected the first round of designs, a second, more open competition took place in December 2002, in which a design by Daniel Libeskind was selected as the winner. This design underwent many revisions, mainly because of disagreements with developer Larry Silverstein, who held the lease to the World Trade Center site at that time. 
There was criticism concerning the limited number of floors that were designated for office space and other amenities in an early plan. Only 82 floors would have been habitable, and the total office space of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex would have been reduced by more than 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m 2 ) in comparison with the original complex.  The floor limit was imposed by Silverstein, who expressed concern that higher floors would be a liability in the event of a future terrorist attack or other incident. Much of the building's height would have consisted of a large, open-air steel lattice structure on the roof of the tower, containing wind turbines and "sky gardens".  In a subsequent design, the highest occupiable floor became comparable to the original World Trade Center, and the open-air lattice was removed from the plans.  In 2002, former New York Governor George Pataki faced accusations of cronyism for supposedly using his influence to get the winning architect's design picked as a personal favor for his friend and campaign contributor, Ronald Lauder. 
A final design for the "Freedom Tower" was formally unveiled on June 28, 2005. To address security issues raised by the New York City Police Department, a 187-foot (57 m) concrete base was added to the design in April of that year. The design originally included plans to clad the base in glass prisms in order to address criticism that the building might have looked uninviting and resembled a "concrete bunker". However, the prisms were later found to be unworkable, as preliminary testing revealed that the prismatic glass easily shattered into large and dangerous shards. As a result, it was replaced by a simpler facade consisting of stainless steel panels and blast-resistant glass. 
Contrasting with Libeskind's original plan, the tower's final design tapers octagonally as it rises. Its designers stated that the tower would be a "monolithic glass structure reflecting the sky and topped by a sculpted antenna." In 2006, Larry Silverstein commented on a planned completion date: "By 2012 we should have a completely rebuilt World Trade Center, more magnificent, more spectacular than it ever was."  On April 26, 2006, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a conceptual framework that allowed foundation construction to begin. A formal agreement was drafted the following day, the 75th anniversary of the 1931 opening of the Empire State Building. Construction began in May a formal groundbreaking ceremony took place when the first construction team arrived. 
Construction and later development
The symbolic cornerstone of One World Trade Center was laid in a ceremony on July 4, 2004.  The stone had an inscription supposedly written by Arthur J. Finkelstein.  However, construction was delayed until 2006 due to disputes over money, security, and design.  The last major issues were resolved on April 26, 2006, when a deal was made between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, so the cornerstone was temporarily removed from the site on June 23, 2006.  Soon after, explosives were detonated at the construction site for two months to clear bedrock for the building's foundation, onto which 400 cubic yards (310 cubic meters) of concrete was poured by November 2007. 
In a December 18, 2006, ceremony held in nearby Battery Park City, members of the public were invited to sign the first 30-foot (9.1 m) steel beam installed onto the building's base.   It was welded onto the building's base on December 19, 2006.  Foundation and steel installation began shortly afterward, so the tower's footings and foundation were nearly complete within a year. 
In January 2008, two cranes were moved onto the site. Construction of the tower's concrete core, which began after the cranes arrived,  reached street level by May 17. However, construction of the base was not finished until two years later, after which construction of the office floors began, and the first glass windows were subsequently installed during 2010, floors were constructed at a rate of about one per week.  An advanced "cocoon" scaffolding system was installed to protect workers from falling, and was the first such safety system installed on a steel structure in the city.  The tower reached 52 floors and was over 600 feet (180 m) tall by December 2010. The tower's steel frame was halfway complete by then,  but grew to 82 floors by the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, at which time its concrete flooring had reached 72 floors and the glass cladding had reached 56 floors. 
In 2009, the Port Authority changed the official name of the building from "Freedom Tower" to "One World Trade Center", stating that this name was the "easiest for people to identify with."   The change came after board members of the Port Authority voted to sign a 21-year lease deal with Vantone Industrial Co., a Chinese real estate company, which would become the building's first commercial tenant to sign a lease. Vantone plans to create the China Center, a trade and cultural facility, covering 191,000 square feet on floors 64 through 69. 
Detailed floor plans of the tower were posted on New York City's Department of Finance website in May 2011. This resulted in an uproar from the media and citizens of the surrounding area, who warned that the plans could potentially be used for a future terrorist attack. 
While under construction, the tower was specially illuminated on several occasions.  On the weekend of July 4, 2011, it was lit up with the colors of the U.S. flag to commemorate Independence Day, and it was lit up with the same colors on September 11 to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.  On October 27 of that same year, it was illuminated with pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  On December 11, the Port Authority illuminated the tower with multicolored lights to celebrate the holiday season.  On February 24, 2012, the building was lit up with red in honor of Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, who became a cardinal on February 18.  On June 14, 2012, it was illuminated with red, white, and blue to honor Flag Day.  In August, it was illuminated with red in honor of the Armed Forces.  On September 8, 2012, it was once again illuminated with red, white, and blue to honor the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  On June 24, 2013, the building was again illuminated with red, white, and blue to celebrate the Fourth of July. 
The tower's loading dock, however, was not due to be finished in time to move equipment into the completed building, so five temporary loading bays were added at a cost of millions of dollars. The temporary PATH station was not to be removed until its official replacement, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, was completed, blocking access to the planned loading area.  By March 2012, One World Trade Center's steel structure had reached 93 floors,  growing to 94 floors and 1,240 feet (380 m) by the end of the month.  However, because the floor numberings were based on standard measurements, the 94th floor was numbered "floor 100", because the extra space was occupied by the high-ceilinged 91st floor, which was used for mechanical purposes. 
The still-incomplete tower became New York City's tallest building by roof height in April 2012, passing the 1,250-foot (380 m) roof height of the Empire State Building.   President Barack Obama visited the construction site two months later and wrote, on a steel beam that would be hoisted to the top of the tower, the sentence "We remember, we rebuild, we come back stronger!"  That same month, with the tower's structure nearing completion, the owners of the building began a public marketing campaign for the building, seeking to attract visitors and tenants. 
One World Trade Center's steel structure topped out at the nominal 104th floor, with a total height of 1,368 feet (417 m), in August 2012.   The tower's spire was then shipped from Quebec to New York in November 2012,  and the first section of the spire was hoisted to the top of the tower on December 12, 2012,   and was installed on January 15, 2013.  By March 2013, two sections of the spire had been installed. The spire's completion was scheduled for April 29, 2013, but bad weather delayed the delivery of the final pieces.  On May 10, 2013, the final piece of the spire was lifted to the top of One World Trade Center, bringing the tower to its full height of 1,776 feet (541 m), and making it the fourth-tallest building in the world at the time.    In subsequent months, the exterior elevator shaft was removed the podium glass, interior decorations, and other finishings were being installed and installation of concrete flooring and steel fittings was completed. 
A report in September 2013 revealed that, at the time of the report, the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) was negotiating with regard to the "World Trade Center" name, as the WTCA had purchased the rights to the name in 1986. The WTCA sought $500,000 worth of free office space in the tower in exchange for the use of "World Trade Center" in the tower's name and associated souvenirs. 
On November 12, 2013, the Height Committee of the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) made the controversial  announcement that One World Trade Center was the tallest building in the United States at 1,776 feet (541 m), declaring that the mast on top of the building is a spire since it is a permanent part of the building's architecture.   By the same reasoning, the building was also the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. 
One World Trade Center under construction behind the World Financial Center in June 2011.
One World Trade Center (to the left) and 4 World Trade Center under construction, as seen from a helicopter on April 30, 2012.
Opening and post-opening
On November 1, 2014, moving trucks started moving items for the tower's first occupying tenant, magazine publisher Condé Nast, from its old headquarters in Times Square to One World Trade Center. The New York Times noted that the area around the World Trade Center had transitioned from a financial area to one with technology firms, residences, and luxury shops, coincident with the building of the new tower. 
The building opened on November 3, 2014, and Condé Nast employees moved into spaces spread among 24 floors.     Condé Nast occupied floors 20 to 44, having completed its move in early 2015.  It was expected that the company would attract new tenants to occupy the remaining 40% of unleased space in the tower,  as Condé Nast had revitalized Times Square after moving there in 1999.  Only about 170 of 3,400 total employees moved into the new tower on the first day. At the time, future tenants included Kids Creative, Legends Hospitality, the BMB Group, Servcorp,  and GQ. 
On November 12, 2014, the supporting wire rope cables of a suspended working platform slacked. The cables were manufactured by Tractel, and they were used to hold workers who performed maintenance on the building's exterior. At the time, the platform was holding a two-man, SEIU-affiliated window washing team. The slack caused the platform to hang almost vertically near the 68th floor of the tower. The workers were rescued by over 100 FDNY firefighters, who used a diamond saw to cut through the glass. After the incident the workers were taken to the hospital and treated for mild hypothermia.   
Estimated cost and funding
An estimate in February 2007 placed the initial construction cost of One World Trade Center at about $3 billion, or $1,150 per square foot ($12,380 per square meter).  However, the tower's total estimated construction cost had risen to $3.9 billion by April 2012, making it the most expensive building in the world at the time.   The tower's construction was partly funded by approximately $1 billion of insurance money that Silverstein received for his losses in the September 11 attacks.  The State of New York provided an additional $250 million, and the Port Authority agreed to give $1 billion, which would be obtained through the sale of bonds.  The Port Authority raised prices for bridge and tunnel tolls to raise funds, with a 56 percent toll increase scheduled between 2011 and 2015 however, the proceeds of these increases were not used to pay for the tower's construction.  
Architecture and design
Many of Daniel Libeskind's original concepts from the 2002 competition were discarded from the tower's final design. One World Trade Center's final design consisted of simple symmetries and a more traditional profile, intended to compare with selected elements of the contemporary New York skyline. The tower's central spire draws from previous buildings, such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. It also visually resembles the original Twin Towers, rather than being an off-center spire similar to the Statue of Liberty.      One World Trade Center is considered the first major building whose construction is based upon a three-dimensional Building Information Model. 
The building occupies a 200-foot (61 m) square, with an area of 40,000 square feet (3,700 m 2 ), nearly identical to the footprints of the original Twin Towers. The tower is built upon a 185-foot (56 m) tall windowless concrete base, designed to protect it from truck bombs and other ground-level attacks.  Originally, the base was to be covered in decorative prismatic glass, but a simpler glass-and-steel façade was adopted when the prisms proved unworkable.  The current base cladding consists of angled glass fins protruding from stainless steel panels, similar to those on 7 World Trade Center. LED lights behind the panels illuminate the base at night.  Cable-net glass façades on all four sides of the building for the higher floors, designed by Schlaich Bergermann, will be consistent with the other buildings in the complex. The façades are 60 feet (18 m) high, and range in width from 30 feet (9.1 m) on the east and west sides, 50 feet (15 m) on the north side, and 70 feet (21 m) on the south side.  The curtain wall was manufactured and assembled by Benson Industries in Portland, Oregon, using glass made in Minnesota by Viracon. 
From the 20th floor upwards, the square edges of the tower's cubic base are chamfered back, shaping the building into eight tall isosceles triangles, or an elongated square antiprism.  Near its middle, the tower forms a perfect octagon, and then culminates in a glass parapet, whose shape is a square oriented 45 degrees from the base. A 408-foot (124 m) sculpted mast containing the broadcasting antenna – designed in a collaboration between Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), artist Kenneth Snelson (who invented the tensegrity structure), lighting designers, and engineers – is secured by a system of cables, and rises from a circular support ring, which contains additional broadcasting and maintenance equipment. At night, an intense beam of light is projected horizontally from the spire  and shines over 1,000 feet (300 m) above the tower. 
David Childs of SOM, the architect of One World Trade Center, said the following regarding the tower's design: 
We really wanted our design to be grounded in something that was very real, not just in sculptural sketches. We explored the infrastructural challenges because the proper solution would have to be compelling, not just beautiful. The design does have great sculptural implications, and we fully understand the iconic importance of the tower, but it also has to be a highly efficient building. The discourse about Freedom Tower has often been limited to the symbolic, formal and aesthetic aspects but we recognize that if this building doesn't function well, if people don't want to work and visit there, then we will have failed as architects. 
Just south of the new One World Trade Center is the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which is located where the original Twin Towers stood. Immediately to the east is World Trade Center Transportation Hub and the new Two World Trade Center site. To the north is 7 World Trade Center, and to the west is Brookfield Place.   
One World Trade Center's top floor is officially designated as floor 104,  despite the fact that the tower only contains 94 actual stories.  The building has 86 usable above-ground floors, of which 78 are intended for office purposes (approximately 2,600,000 square feet (240,000 m 2 )).    The base consists of floors 1–19, including a 65-foot-high (20 m) public lobby, featuring the 90-foot mural ONE: Union of the Senses by American artist José Parlá.   The office floors begin at floor 20, and go up to floor 63. There is a sky lobby on floor 64 office floors resume on floor 65, and stop at floor 90. Floors 91–99 and 103–104 are mechanical floors. 
The tower has a three-story observation deck, located on floors 100–102, in addition to existing broadcast and antenna facilities.  Similar to the Empire State Building, visitors to the observation deck and tenants have their own separate entrances one entrance is on the West Street side of the building, and the other is from within the shopping mall, descending down to a below-ground security screening area.  On the observation deck, the actual viewing space is on the 100th floor, but there is a food court on the 101st floor and a space for events for the 102nd floor.  To show visitors the city, and give them information and stories about New York, an interactive tool called City Pulse is used by Tour Ambassadors. The admission fee is $32 per person,   but admission discounts are available for children and seniors, and the deck is free for 9/11 responders and families of 9/11 victims.  When it opened, the deck was expected to have about 3.5 million visitors per year.  Tickets went on sale starting on April 8.  However, the Manhattan District Attorney probed the Port Authority about the firm to which it awarded a contract to operate the deck.  It officially opened on May 28, 2015,   one day ahead of schedule. 
There are three eating venues at the top of the building: a café (called One Café), a bar and "small plates" grill (One Mix), and a fine dining restaurant (One Dining). Some have criticized the food prices the need of a full observatory ticket purchase to enter and their reputations compared to Windows on the World, the top-floor restaurant in the original One World Trade Center.   The tenants have access to below-ground parking, storage, and shopping access to PATH, New York City Subway trains, and the World Financial Center is also provided at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, Fulton Street/Fulton Center, Chambers Street, and Cortlandt Street stations.  The building allows direct access to West Street, Vesey Street, and Fulton Street at ground level.  The building has an approximate underground footprint of 42,000 square feet (3,900 m 2 ),  of which 55,000 square feet (5,100 m 2 ) is retail space. A plan to build a restaurant near the top of the tower, similar to the original One World Trade Center's Windows on the World, was abandoned as logistically impractical. The tower's window-washing tracks are located on a 16-square-foot area, which is designated as floor 110 as a symbolic reference to the 110 floors of the original tower. 
View of Manhattan from the observatory
View of 56 Leonard Street from the 52nd Floor
The original design went through significant changes after the Durst Organization joined the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as the co-developer of the project in 2010. 
The 185-foot (56 m) tall base corners were originally designed to gently slope upward, and have prismatic glass.   The corners were later squared. In addition, the base's walls are now covered in "hundreds of pairs of 13-foot vertical glass fins set against horizontal bands of eight-inch-wide stainless-steel slats."  
The spire was originally to be enclosed with a protective radome, described as a "sculptural sheath of interlocking fiberglass panels".    However, the radome-enclosed spire was changed to a plain antenna.  Douglas Durst, the chairman of the Durst Organization, stated that the design change would save $20 million.   However, the tower's architect, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, strongly criticized the change. David Childs, the lead designer, said, "Eliminating this integral part of the building's design and leaving an exposed antenna and equipment is unfortunate . We stand ready to work with the Port on an alternate design."  After joining the project in 2010, the Durst Organization had suggested eliminating the radome to reduce costs, but the proposal was rejected by the Port Authority's then-executive director, Christopher O. Ward.  Ward was replaced by Patrick Foye in September 2011.  Foye changed the Port Authority's position, and the radome was removed from the plans. In 2012, Douglas Durst gave a statement regarding the final decision: "(the antenna) is going to be mounted on the building over the summer. There's no way to do anything at this point." 
The large triangular plaza on the west side of One World Trade Center, facing the Hudson River, was originally planned to have stainless steel steps descending to the street. However, the steps were changed to a terrace in the final design. The terrace can be accessed through a staircase on Vesey Street. The terrace is paved in granite, and has 12 sweetgum trees, in addition to a block-long planter/bench. 
Durst also removed a skylight from the plaza's plans the skylight was designed to allow natural light to enter the below-ground observation deck lobby.  The plaza is 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) higher than the adjacent sidewalk. 
The Port Authority formally approved all these revisions, and the revisions were first reported by the New York Post.  Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority, said that he thought that the changes were "few and minor" in a telephone interview. 
A contract negotiated between the Port Authority and the Durst Organization states that the Durst Organization will receive a $15 million fee and a percentage of "base building changes that result in net economic benefit to the project." The specifics of the signed contract give Durst 75 percent of the savings, up to $24 million, with further returns going down to 50 percent, 25 percent and 15 percent as the savings increase. 
The top floor of One World Trade Center is 1,368 feet (417 m) above ground level, along with a 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m) parapet this is identical to the roof height of the original One World Trade Center.  The tower's spire brings it to a pinnacle height of 1,776 feet (541 m),   a figure intended to symbolize the year 1776, when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed.     When the spire is included in the building's height, as stated by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), One World Trade Center surpasses the height of Taipei 101 (1,671-foot (509 m)), is the world's tallest all-office building, and the sixth-tallest skyscraper in the world, behind the Burj Khalifa,  Abraj Al Bait,  Shanghai Tower,  Ping An Finance Centre and Lotte World Tower.
One World Trade Center is the second-tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere, as the CN Tower in Toronto exceeds One World Trade Center's pinnacle height by approximately 40 ft (12.2 m).  The Chicago Spire, with a planned height of 2,000 feet (610 m), was expected to exceed the height of One World Trade Center, but its construction was canceled due to financial difficulties in 2009. 
After design changes for One World Trade Center's spire were revealed in May 2012, there were questions as to whether the 408-foot (124 m)-tall structure would still qualify as a spire, and thus be included in the building's height.   Since the tower's spire is not enclosed in a radome as originally planned, it could be classified as a simple antenna, which is not included in a building's height, according to the CTBUH.  Without the antenna, One World Trade Center would be 1,368 feet (417 m) tall, making it the fourth-tallest building in the United States, behind the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel & Tower, both located in Chicago, and 432 Park Avenue in New York.   The building is currently the tallest in New York City with the antenna however, without the antenna, it was surpassed in 2015 by 432 Park Avenue, which topped out at 1,396 feet (426 m) high.    One World Trade Center's developers have disputed the claim that the spire should be reclassified as an antenna following the redesign,  with Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman reiterating that "One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere."  In 2012, the CTBUH announced that it would wait to make its final decision as to whether or not the redesigned spire would count towards the building's height.  On November 12, 2013, the CTBUH announced that One World Trade Center's spire would count as part of the building's recognized height, giving it a final height of 1,776 feet, and making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. 
Like other buildings in the new World Trade Center complex, One World Trade Center includes sustainable architecture features. Much of the building's structure and interior is built from recycled materials, including gypsum boards and ceiling tiles around 80 percent of the tower's waste products are recycled.  Although the roof area of any tower is limited, the building implements a rainwater collection and recycling scheme for its cooling systems. The building's PureCell phosphoric acid fuel cells generate 4.8 megawatts (MW) of power, and its waste steam generates electricity.  The New York Power Authority selected UTC Power to provide the tower's fuel cell system, which was one of the largest fuel cell installations in the world once completed.  The tower also makes use of off-site hydroelectric and wind power.  The windows are made of an ultra-clear glass, which allows maximum sunlight to pass through the interior lighting is equipped with dimmers that automatically dim the lights on sunny days, reducing energy costs.  Like all of the new facilities at the World Trade Center site, One World Trade Center is heated by steam, with limited oil or natural gas utilities on-site.  One World Trade Center received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, making it one of the most environmentally sustainable skyscrapers in the world. 
Along with the protection provided by the reinforced concrete base, a number of other safety features were included in the building's design, so that it would be prepared for a major accident or terrorist attack. Like 7 World Trade Center, the building has 3-foot (91 cm) thick reinforced concrete walls in all stairwells, elevator shafts, risers, and sprinkler systems. There are also extra-wide, pressurized stairwells, along with a dedicated set of stairwells exclusively for the use of firefighters, and biological and chemical filters throughout the ventilation system.   In comparison, the original Twin Towers used a purely steel central core to house utility functions, protected only by lightweight drywall panels. 
The building is no longer 25 feet (8 m) away from West Street, as the Twin Towers were at its closest point, West Street is 65 feet (20 m) away.  The Port Authority has stated: "Its structure is designed around a strong, redundant steel moment frame consisting of beams and columns connected by a combination of welding and bolting. Paired with a concrete-core shear wall, the moment frame lends substantial rigidity and redundancy to the overall building structure while providing column-free interior spans for maximum flexibility." 
In addition to safety design, new security measures were implemented. All vehicles will be screened for radioactive materials and other potentially dangerous objects before they enter the site through the underground road. Four hundred closed-circuit surveillance cameras will be placed in and around the site, with live camera feeds being continuously monitored by the NYPD. A computer system will use video-analytic computer software, designed to detect potential threats, such as unattended bags, and retrieve images based on descriptions of terrorists or other criminal suspects. New York City and Port Authority police will patrol the site. 
Before the World Trade Center site was fully completed, the plaza was not completely opened to the public, as the original World Trade Center plaza was.  The initial stage of the opening process began on Thursday, May 15, 2014, when the "Interim Operating Period" of the National September 11 Memorial ended. During this period, all visitors were required to undergo airport style security screening,  as part of the "Interim Operating Period", which was expected to end on December 31, 2013.  However, screening did not fully end until the official dedication and opening of the museum   on May 21, 2014, after which visitors were allowed to use the plaza without needing passes. 
In March 2014, the tower was scaled by 16-year-old Weehawken, New Jersey resident Justin Casquejo, who entered the site through a hole in a fence. He was subsequently arrested on trespassing charges.  He allegedly dressed like a construction worker, sneaked in, and convinced an elevator operator to lift him to the tower's 88th floor, according to news sources. He then used stairways to get to the 104th floor, walked past a sleeping security guard, and climbed up a ladder to get to the antenna, where he took pictures for two hours.  The elevator operator was reassigned, and the guard was fired.   It was then revealed that officials had failed to install security cameras in the tower, which facilitated Casquejo's entry to the site.   Casquejo was sentenced to 23 days of community service as a result. 
The social center of the previous One World Trade Center included a restaurant on the 107th floor, called Windows on the World, and The Greatest Bar on Earth these were tourist attractions in their own right, and a gathering spot for people who worked in the towers.   This restaurant also housed one of the most prestigious wine schools in the United States, called "Windows on the World Wine School", run by wine personality Kevin Zraly.  Despite numerous assurances that these attractions would be rebuilt,  the Port Authority scrapped plans to rebuild them, which has outraged some observers. 
The fortified base of the tower has also been a source of controversy. Some critics, including Deroy Murdock of the National Review,  have said that it is alienating and dull, and reflects a sense of fear rather than freedom, leading them to dub the building "the Fear Tower".  Nicolai Ouroussoff, the architecture critic for The New York Times, calls the tower base a "grotesque attempt to disguise its underlying paranoia". 
Owners and tenants
One World Trade Center is principally owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Around 5 percent equity of the building was sold to the Durst Organization, a private real estate company, in exchange for an investment of at least $100 million. The Durst Organization assisted in supervising the building's construction, and manages the building for the Port Authority, having responsibility for leasing, property management, and tenant installations.   By September 2012, around 55 percent of the building's floor space had been leased,  but no new leases were signed for three years until May 2014  the amount of space leased had gone up to 62.8 percent by November 2014. 
In 2006, the State of New York agreed to a 15-year 415,000 square feet (38,600 m 2 ) lease, with an option to extend the lease's term and occupy up to 1,000,000 square feet (90,000 m 2 ).  The General Services Administration (GSA) initially agreed to a lease of around 645,000 square feet (59,900 m 2 ),   and New York State's Office of General Services (OGS) planned to occupy around 412,000 square feet (38,300 m 2 ). However, the GSA ceded most of its floor space to the Port Authority in July 2011, and the OGS withdrew from the lease contract.  In April 2008, the Port Authority announced that it was seeking a bidder to operate the 18,000 sq ft (1,700 m 2 ) observation deck on the tower's 102nd floor  in 2013, Legends Hospitality Management agreed to operate the observatory in a 15-year, $875 million contract. 
The building's first lease, a joint project between the Port Authority and Beijing-based Vantone Industrial, was announced on March 28, 2009. A 190,810 sq ft (17,727 m 2 ) "China Center", combining business and cultural facilities, is planned between floors 64 and 69 it is intended to represent Chinese business and cultural links to the United States, and to serve American companies that wish to conduct business in China.  Vantone Industrial's lease is for 20 years and 9 months.  In April 2011, a new interior design for the China Center was unveiled, featuring a vertical "Folding Garden", based on a proposal by the Chinese artist Zhou Wei. 
On August 3, 2010, Condé Nast Publications signed a tentative agreement to move the headquarters and offices for its magazines into One World Trade Center, occupying up to 1,000,000 square feet (90,000 m 2 ) of floor space.  On May 17, 2011, Condé Nast reached a final agreement with the Port Authority, securing a 25-year lease with an estimated value of $2 billion.  On May 25, 2011, Condé Nast finalized the lease contract, obtaining 1,008,012 square feet (93,647.4 m 2 ) of office space between floors 20–41. The lease also includes 30,000 square feet (2,800 m 2 ) of usable space in the podium and below grade floors, for mail, messenger services, and storage use. On January 17, 2012, it was reported that Condé Nast would be leasing an additional 133,000 square feet (10,000 m 2 ) of space, occupying floors 42 through 44.  Conde Nast moved in on November 3, 2014.  
However, some leases failed. In January 2012, Chadbourne & Parke, a Midtown Manhattan-based law firm, was to sign a 300,000 square feet (30,000 m 2 ) lease contract,  but after negotiations broke down, the deal was abruptly canceled in March. 
In August 2014, it was announced Servcorp signed a 15-year lease for 34,775 square feet (3,230.7 m 2 ), taking the entire 85th floor.  Servcorp subsequently sublet all of its space on the 85th floor as private offices, boardrooms and co-working space to numerous medium-sized businesses such as ThinkCode, D100 Radio, and Chérie L'Atelier des Fleurs.  
Larry Silverstein of Silverstein Properties, the leaseholder and developer of the complex, retains control of the surrounding buildings, while the Port Authority has full control of the tower itself. Silverstein signed a 99-year lease for the World Trade Center site in July 2001, and remains actively involved in most aspects of the site's redevelopment process. 
Before construction of the new tower began, Silverstein was involved in an insurance dispute regarding the tower. The terms of the lease agreement signed in 2001, for which Silverstein paid $14 million,  gave Silverstein, as leaseholder, the right and obligation to rebuild the structures if they were destroyed.  After the September 11 attacks, there were a series of disputes between Silverstein and insurance companies concerning the insurance policies that covered the original towers this resulted in the construction of One World Trade Center being delayed. After a trial resulted, a verdict was given on April 29, 2004. The verdict was that ten of the insurers involved in the dispute were subject to the "one occurrence" interpretation, so their liability was limited to the face value of those policies. Three insurers were added to the second trial group.   At that time, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on one insurer, Swiss Reinsurance, but it did so several days later on May 3, 2004, finding that this company was also subject to the "one occurrence" interpretation.  Silverstein appealed the Swiss Reinsurance decision, but the appeal failed on October 19, 2006.  The second trial resulted in a verdict on December 6, 2004. The jury determined that nine insurers were subject to the "two occurrences" interpretation, referring to the fact that two different planes had destroyed the towers during the September 11 attacks. They were therefore liable for a maximum of double the face value of those particular policies ($2.2 billion).  The highest potential payout was $4.577 billion, for buildings 1, 2, 4, and 5. 
In March 2007, Silverstein appeared at a rally of construction workers and public officials outside an insurance industry conference. He highlighted what he describes as the failures of insurers Allianz and Royal & Sun Alliance to pay $800 million in claims related to the attacks. Insurers state that an agreement to split payments between Silverstein and the Port Authority is a cause for concern. 
Key project coordinators
David Childs, one of Silverstein's favorite architects, joined the project after Silverstein urged him to do so. He developed a design proposal for One World Trade Center, initially collaborating with Daniel Libeskind. In May 2005, Childs revised the design to address security concerns. He is the architect of the tower, and is responsible for overseeing its day-to-day design and development. 
Architect Daniel Libeskind won the invitational competition to develop a plan for the new tower in 2002. He gave an initial proposal, which he called "Memory Foundations", for the design of One World Trade Center. His design included aerial gardens, windmills, and off-center spire.  Libeskind later denied a request to place the tower in a more rentable location next to the PATH station. He instead placed it another block west, as it would then line up with, and resemble, the Statue of Liberty.  Most of Libeskind's original designs were later scrapped, and other architects were chosen to design the other WTC buildings. [note 2] However, one element of Libeskind's initial plan was included in the final design – the tower's symbolic height of 1,776 feet (541 m). 
Daniel R. Tishman – along with his father John Tishman, builder of the original World Trade Center – led the construction team from Tishman Realty & Construction, the selected builder for One World Trade Center.  
Douglas and Jody Durst, the co-presidents of the Durst Organization, a real estate development company, won the right to invest at least $100 million in the project on July 7, 2010. 
In August 2010, Condé Nast, a long-time Durst tenant, confirmed a tentative deal to move into One World Trade Center,    and finalized the deal on May 26, 2011.  The contract negotiated between the Port Authority and the Durst Organization specifies that the Durst Organization will receive a $15 million fee, and a percentage of "base building changes that result in net economic benefit to the project". The specifics of the signed contract give Durst 75 percent of savings up to $24 million, stepping down to 50, 25, and 15 percent as savings increase.  Since Durst joined the project, significant changes have been made to the building, including the 185 foot base of the tower, the spire, and the plaza to the west of the building, facing the Hudson River. The Port Authority has approved all the revisions. 
Of Time and the Freedom Tower
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was bickering with the wife over an article in the "Health" section of The New York Times about babies choking on food, going back and forth about grapes. Judah, our son, was two years old.
My position was, as always, utterly clear: no whole grapes. Ever. Lisa's was murky: As the grape-cutter, she cut if she felt like it. I found this intolerable. She found my rigidity and catastrophism oppressive, regardless of the Times's wisdom and advice: Cut the grapes in half.
It wasn't about grapes, of course. It never is. It was about power at the sub-grassroots -- about who calls the shots. All politics is local. Domestic, even. Petty as hell, both ways. It gets loud. It gets ugly. Even over grapes.
When the phone rang, it was Mrs. Field, who lived in the big house diagonally behind ours. She and Mr. Field -- Isabel and Hank, Brooklyn natives who'd immigrated the twenty miles to Glen Ridge, New Jersey, sixty years before to raise their family -- were more than neighbors and friends: They were our boy's babysitters and his surrogate grandparents. Nice, nice folks, smart and sharp and funny the way people around New York City are. You can say that's parochial or clichéd or phony -- I don't give a damn, because it's true. The slow and lame and halt don't come or stay here, not often or for long.
Anyway, Isabel told us to turn on the TV: The World Trade Center towers were on fire. By then, both planes had hit. In a few minutes, we saw Tower Two fall. Then Tower One. All gone. Fucking gone. Just like that.
We took Judah and drove to West Orange, to Eagle Rock, where we could see the skyline of Manhattan spread out, and we watched the twin pillars of smoke fill the sky, not twenty miles east of where we stood.
I don't recall how long we stayed, don't recall a word we said, if one or both of us wept, or if we even spoke at all -- no memory of that. We just stood watching, scared unto numb, as the horizon turned to soot and vapor. Otherwise, an empty, silent sky.
When we got home, I tried to call my friends in the city. I couldn't get through. But even as a catastrophist -- raised in Cleveland by Jewish immigrants filled with fears -- I knew that most of my pals worked in midtown, and I knew no one who lived near or worked at the World Trade Center.
I didn't know yet what the Colls, who lived next to the Fields and had two little kids, had lost. Robert Coll, the dad, worked at Euro Brokers, up on the eighty-fourth floor of Tower Two -- the South Tower -- and died that day. He died because he stopped on his way down -- down the one stairway that led to safety -- because a fat lady who was huffing and puffing her way up warned that that stairway was impassable.
She was dead wrong, but how could Bobby Coll know that? So he helped her struggle up the stairs, and forever left his two-year-old daughter and ten-month-old son and his young wife. He was thirty-five years old.
In a few months, the Colls were gone, their house sold. Robert Coll is one of seven names engraved on a stone in a small square of green near the stairs that go down to the New York City -- bound track at the Glen Ridge train station.
Hank Field died a few years ago, so Isabel moved to South Jersey to be close to one of her kids. Our son -- God bless him -- just turned nine. Which means Lisa and I don't bicker about grapes these days we bicker about which pizza joint can deliver the pie in time for Judah to eat before his game.
We'll be dead someday -- I was already forty-seven years old when I became a father, and I'm a catastrophist, so this truth is never far from my consciousness -- somebody else will live where we now live, and our names will be engraved elsewhere. Meanwhile, little by little and day by day -- with all due respect to the inevitability of doom -- we build the best life we can and mainly trust the future to itself.
And meanwhile, at ground zero, where the towers fell and nearly three thousand people died, it's the same story: They bicker and build, and build and bicker, and bluster and blame and battle -- mainly over who's calling the shots -- men with various degrees of vision, integrity, and heft, carrying on not like men inscribing history upon Earth's face -- little by little, day by day -- but like baggy-pants clowns.
Someday they, too, will all be dead and, by and large, forgotten, which may help to explain why they're so busy squirting seltzer on one another: It helps 'em pass the time of day in death's bright waiting room it makes them feel alive. Power and money don't negate life's cheap slapstick -- they only add richness and depth. Hell, history is comedy -- in all places, at all times -- strutting, preening humankind, heading toward oblivion.
You want tragedy and catharsis? Read Aristotle. You want truth? Stare naked in the mirror at the brute who dreams up gods and bickers over grapes, driven to create and to destroy as he is created and destroyed -- pitilessly -- who ponders the big bang and laughs when someone else slips and falls down.
Meanwhile, chances are that what gets built because of or despite the Ground Zero Clown Troupe -- venal or grand, timeless or transitory, ugly or beautiful likely, always, all of the above -- will stand at least a little longer here than any of us.
Among my favorite ground-zero keepsakes -- Esquire has covered the World Trade Center rebuilding since 2005, and I have gathered much flotsam -- is an architect's dream book prepared for a design meeting in September of '05.
Titled "World Trade Center/Tower One/Base Of Building/Texture Concepts," it's five 11-by-17-inch spiral-bound pages long and nearly devoid of text. It contains a total of fifteen uncaptioned photos of various surfaces, meant to offer the building's developer a visual sense of materials and patterns and historical references that might be evoked by the vast concrete cube that will form the base of Tower One -- the "Freedom Tower," as New York's former governor George Pataki named it.
One of the crew of architects handed the book to Larry Silverstein, the tower's developer, at the meeting's start when it ended, two-plus hours later, the book still sat on the table, unopened. So I asked to borrow it, and nobody has asked for it back. And as the tower has begun -- slowly, slowly, slowly rising from a pit seventy feet below street level -- to take shape before my eyes, I go back to the book, to the last picture in it, a section of the Wailing Wall, the two-thousand-year-old ruin of one temple that was built upon the ruins of a three-thousand-year-old temple, right in the heart of Jerusalem's heart -- and right here, in a brief book of ground zero spitball visions, sits the holy Wailing Wall, where people still come every day to pray and weep and pound their chests in timeless grief.
I mention this because many of the people who know that I've been writing for years now about the rebuilding of the World Trade Center ask the same questions, including this: Why not just make the whole place into a memorial, where folks can pray and pay tribute and honor to those who died there?
This, in fact, was what America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, suggested as he was leaving office. Ironically, it was Rudy who also had urged a quick rebuild who tried to trump term limits by playing the 9/11 card in an effort to stay in office and who, thwarted in that effort and expecting his mayoral successor to be a Democrat, conspired with Pataki, a fellow Republican, to control ground zero as a political symbol and to control the billions of dollars that would pour into it.
It's no stretch, looking back, to say that 9/11 was the best day of Giuliani's political career, but it didn't wash him clean -- indeed, it eventually helped bare his armpit ethics -- and it wasn't footing firm enough to support the presidential bid of a bastard with little to offer beyond his foul temper and two clenched fists. As for Pataki, who, like Rudy, hoped to stand sufficiently tall on ground zero to reach the White House, his five years at the helm of the rebuilding left few marks on the earth there, and none in the public mind.
Which is to say that bucking the forces of history and spirit embedded at ground zero -- as puissant as those embodied by the Western Wall of King Solomon's Temple -- is no mere walk in a memorial park.
So though you need not be a half-wit or a hayseed to pine for a big park, you must at least embrace, or be embraced by, a lambkin's naivete about capitalism in general and New York City real estate in particular. The Trade Center -- ten million square feet of fully packed office space -- collapsed upon sixteen acres of the most precious land at the core of the most economically vital city on the planet as the direct result of an act of jihad intended to slaughter thousands of innocent people and cripple our nation -- and you want they should turn the whole shebang into a bleeding greensward? To honor whom, exactly -- Osama? Blow me.
But I digress. Enough to note that of the many tidal pulls ebbing and flowing through ground zero, the most powerful of all is cash. Americans may be every bit as God-fearing as pollsters say -- and as the ancient Israelis, when not making golden calves or changing shekels at the shul -- yet as much as even a New Yorker likes green space, we worship where it counts: with our works, and at the altars of green money.
But take heart, Percy: Eight acres of ground zero -- fully half the place -- will be a memorial, complete with a park, plus its own Wailing Wall, a section of one of the old slurry walls built to shore up the substructure of the original WTC against the nearby Hudson River. There you may daven and weep and mourn to your soul's content -- or just grab a bite to eat.
And all around you, rising to heaven, tens of thousands of people will pay their tribute by coming to work each day, in four office towers the size of the Empire State Building, here in the heart of the heart of this most American of places.
Which brings us to the second question everybody asks: Would anyone dare to work at ground zero?
There's a simple answer -- not everyone in the United States is a wussy -- and a complicated answer, but it's worth pausing to reflect on the obverse version of this question, posed endlessly in the echo chamber of the mass media: Since we won World War II in four years -- and built the Empire State Building in only thirteen months, and the Hoover Dam in five years, and Oprah in, give or take, nine months -- isn't our failure to finish the World Trade Center rebuild by now irrefutable evidence of the collapse of can-do America?
Both questions are stupid, but the first one -- however silly -- is at least honest. The second ignores history for the sake of phony analogy -- all of these things are not merely unalike they're obviously and fundamentally different -- but they both presume the same falsehood: The U. S. of A. is a cooked goose. Done. Over. Just a nation full of can't-do clowns and craven braggarts led for the last eight years by a big-hat, no-cattle blowhard.
But New Yorkers long ago settled both questions. Since 9/11, thousands have moved into Lower Manhattan, with their partners, kids, and pets, not as an act of defiance or courage, but because, native or immigrant, the New Yorker sizes up risk and benefit with the same confidence -- not to mention a cold eye on the bottom line -- that built the town and the nation in the first place. While old Wall Street office buildings two blocks from ground zero are being converted to condos and apartments, Goldman Sachs has now topped off a $2 billion tower, its new headquarters, a few hundred yards across West Street from the WTC site. And although there are plenty of words for folks who bet against Goldman Sachs, winner isn't one of 'em.
The towers at ground zero will rise and fill millions of visitors will come each year to visit the memorial shops, hotels, and restaurants will thrive and the American empire, having survived -- knock wood -- two four-year terms spent staggering toward fiscal and literal Armageddon, will survive awhile longer.
The more relevant question trembling behind these two others isn't pretty, but it's clear as ice: Will ground zero be attacked again?
The answer is just as plain: Bet on it. Peter Bergen, who has studied and written about bin Laden and Al Qaeda for many years -- a fellow at NYU's Center on Law and Security and a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (and a CNN national-security analyst Bergen looks marvelous in a kaffiyeh and flak jacket) -- told me, "If you talk about a 2050 timeline, clearly this is going to be -- if not the number-one target -- in the top five. They've attacked it twice -- and it seems a target in perpetuity. Somebody will try something, even if it's some halfhearted attempt by somebody merely inspired by Al Qaeda. I wouldn't work there at all. But that's just my personal feeling."
Or, as Daniel Benjamin -- coauthor of The Age of Sacred Terror and a National Security Council member during Bill Clinton's administration -- wrote in a 2004 New York Times op-ed, fetchingly headlined "The 1,776-Foot-Tall Target," to build the Freedom Tower at all "ignores the difference between heroic resolve and foolishness. Dangling an iconic and indefensible target in front of terrorists is inconsistent with a strategy of reducing our vulnerabilities wherever possible . . . [careful] calculations -- not reflexive bravado -- ought to govern planning for ground zero."
Nobody in his right mind could argue with the gist of the Bergen-Benjamin message: Everything built at ground zero will be a trophy kill, and there will be no lack of hunters and no way to guarantee its safety.
And yes, some folks will refuse to work there, and some will feel forced to by circumstance, and some may even say goodbye each day as they head to their offices and wonder if today's the day.
And yet the truth is that vast numbers of New Yorkers -- including those who lived through 9/11 -- will say, So what?
Mr. Bergen, Mr. Benjamin, may I introduce Charlie Maikish? Mr. Maikish, a quiet man, a civil engineer who helped build the Twin Towers when he was just out of college and then years later served as director of the World Trade Center for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the bistate agency that built the WTC and is -- slowly, slowly, slowly -- rebuilding it and who helped fix the damage after the car-bomb attack in 1993 and who most recently served for two and a half years as head of the command center overseeing the rebuild: Mr. Maikish, sirs, gets it. He saw Ramzi Yousef, the architect of the '93 bombing, in the courtroom, and he knew the war had just begun.
"I was in the courtroom when he was sentenced," Maikish says. "And he said, 'We will succeed. The towers will come down.' I felt chills go through me when he said it, because I knew that they were zealots and would stop at nothing to see that happen."
When the towers fell, Maikish was at a meeting in midtown he didn't get to ground zero until later that day.
"There were eighty-odd Port Authority people that died, forty-five that I knew personally -- and tenants and other people at the Trade Center, close to a hundred people I knew that never made it out that day."
Sitting at his desk, his tie knotted tight and his white shirt crisp, with five decades of hard hats lined up neatly on top of his bookcase, Maikish pauses to lick his lips and swallow back the tears.
"There was a real mourning for the loss of a physical place, too," he says. "I said to myself, This is crazy -- why are you so upset, so devastated by the loss of the buildings? But for a lot of us, it was a very special place. We built it. We lived it. It was a very special place, and it still is. It really is. It has this psychic energy around it. You can't animate or give a soul to a physical structure, but believe me -- you can."
And then Maikish earnestly trots out the most tired 9/11 trope of all, the one about the terrorists winning.
"Would I put my own children in the Freedom Tower? Yes. And I'll tell you why -- the terrorists win if they get us to so materially change the way we function that we're no longer a free and open society. They win.
"Americans are going to avoid their symbols because they might be targets? That's doing exactly what the terrorists want. No. Personally? I'd move into the Freedom Tower in a minute."
I'm no neutral party here I'm going with Charlie Maikish.
I've talked to a lot of folks working on the rebuild -- some wearing suits, some in safety vests -- who see themselves as soldiers in whatever neo-Orwellian phrase you'd use to mark this precise point in the human animal's endless cycle of slaughter and suffering. I don't know their politics, and I don't want to know. I don't know how to define and gauge the purity of someone else's patriotism. The merry jingoes at Fox News have that beat covered anyway, and debased it to a cretin's code.
What I know is this: It takes a ration of fundamental heart, of bravery -- among other things -- to make a country like America and a city like New York. To come here from some other place and make this place your home. To believe that you can build a better life, however you define that, in New York City. To do it -- or to fail, or to lose it and to soldier on -- that takes stones.
And I know this: Bravado is the opposite of bravery, the pretense of courage where there is only fear and ignorance. Bravado sometimes says things like "Bring it on!" and "Mission Accomplished!" -- and it sublets Geraldo Rivera's apartment when he's off on assignment -- but it never, ever faces fear or gets a damned thing done. Guys like Maikish do. Or don't. But they don't pretend, and they'll die trying. They are grown men. They grasp -- since they know that they're fated to die -- that facing fear with faith instead of running or hiding from danger doesn't make them dumb beasts it makes them men. And it makes them Americans. And it makes them New Yorkers.
As for that awful "If ______, then the terrorists win," it was drowned in sewage so long ago that everyone to Ayn Coulter's left gags anytime it's used. But what the hell -- like greeting cards and Tuesdays with Morrie, it does mean something, and not just that you're gagging because you're far too smart and learned to fall back on dire cliché. What it means in part, especially to New Yorkers -- even those who didn't help raise the World Trade Center -- is that not filling up the two holes torn in the grandest skyline in the world -- the man-made horizon that both symbolizes and defines New York City -- because you're scared of the bad guys coming back is not wisdom, caution, or careful calculation: It's cowardice.
I'm also with Maikish on the soul of ground zero, because I've spent enough hours on the ground there to have felt it. It isn't Little Bighorn, and it isn't Auschwitz, and the truth is that there is no piece of soil anywhere man has lived that isn't soaked in blood shed cheap, and for the ugliest of reasons. But ground zero has a soul just as sure as you and I do, and just as sacrosanct.
When I first came down here and stood in a pit that was little but slab on grade, it felt like a cathedral at the bottom of a vast and empty well, a place where all the push and pull and pulse of living life had died. A battlefield, and worse -- a busy field of human, workday dreams turned all at once into a silent slaughterhouse. Squares of traffic cones marked the outlines of the fallen towers, and battered plywood painted blue covered a Freedom Tower cornerstone that had been rushed to the site so that George Pataki could make a show of being in charge, but construction had been paralyzed -- and would be so for months, because nobody was in charge -- and the commuter train that snakes through ground zero squealing and shrieking past every few minutes served only to make the naked earth seem more barren, more like the soul of a small child orphaned.
Now? The future of ground zero is its present, days and nights and land filling with work and money again, its soul no longer small and sad and stagnant. It's big and hairy -- it smells like sweat and bangs like steel pounding on rock until rock breaks. It hurls curses at the fucking crane operator as he takes his goddamn time on break finishing the Post sports page. It has a thrumming pulse. It feels just like . . . New York.
The toughest of all ground zero questions is: What's taking so long? The reason it's so tough to answer isn't because there are no answers it's tough because none of the dozens of answers is a sound bite, and trying to parse them is like uncrumpling a train wreck.
Those sixteen acres are owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a quasi-governmental monolith that owns and operates all the major bridges, tunnels, and airports -- plus the infamous and eponymous bus terminal -- that connect New York City to the rest of the world. It was the PA, born in 1921, that begat the World Trade Center -- thanks to its endless flow of cash from its bridges, tunnels, and airports, its ability to issue bonds, and the vision of one Austin Tobin, an autocratic former PA director who built the Twin Towers and promptly died.
Under Tobin, who ran the show for thirty years with an iron fist -- and with no fear of any elected official -- the Port was a powerhouse, savvy enough to steamroll any obstacle and confident and competent enough to put up what used to be the two tallest buildings in the world at once.
Those days are long gone -- and so are the PA's political independence, competence, and confidence. What's left is an agency full of frightened bureaucrats run by hacks handpicked by the governors of two states whose fierce rivalry -- rooted in greed and lust for money and power -- was the problem the PA was created to solve in the first place.
Nothing happens at ground zero without the Port's say-so. And nothing happens at the PA unless the New Jersey boys get to wet their beaks, which means that nothing gets built at ground zero without the guarantee of a new multibillion-dollar tunnel from Lower Manhattan to New Jersey, a joyous prospect for any real estate developer in certain precincts of New Jersey.
But that's only one aspect of ground zero's paralysis. There's also the private real estate developer who inked a $3.2 billion, ninety-nine-year lease on the World Trade Center seven weeks before 9/11, Larry Silverstein, the seventy-seven-year-old whiz kid from Brooklyn who gets trashed for all that goes wrong with the rebuilding -- and who couldn't care less about that. All Larry cares about is getting the thing rebuilt before his time, or his lease, runs out. But despite his determination and experience -- and this guy has spent fifty years cutting deals and greasing wheels in New York City -- and a phalanx of lawyers, Silverstein and the PA keep lurching in lockstep from stalemate to stalemate.
The politicians involved have been horrible. From Pataki's empty promises to Eliot Spitzer's venereal arrogance and Mayor Mike Bloomberg's calculated detachment, no officeholder has cared enough to do ground zero a damn bit of good.
Then there's the not-so-little matter of the Master Plan, chosen by Pataki, to rebuild the site. Five office towers in all, and a brand-new train station, a memorial and museum, a performing-arts center, plus a half-million square feet of retail shopping -- all packed into a parcel of sixteen urban acres, with a commuter train and two subway lines running through it -- conceived in such a way that no part of it can literally be separated from the rest. Under the very best of circumstances, it would take years of planning and building to get it done.
And then there are the victims' families whose sons and daughters and husbands and wives were murdered in cold blood on those sixteen acres -- hundreds of whom have no remains to bury, and view the site itself as sacred ground. Pieces of the lost are still turning up, and different groups are still spatting about the "right" way to list the names of the dead on a memorial that won't be done by 9/11/11.
But the best possible answer to the question of what's taking so long is another question: What's the rush?
I'm serious. Why the hurry? I mean, all due respect to Oklahoma City, but here you can't just set some chairs on a lawn and call that a memorial. And not for nothing, but Pearl Harbor waited ten years just for a stinking plaque -- plus ten more for a memorial. Are we so devoid of historical memory -- and so frightened of the time passing -- that we can no longer recognize and live with reality?
This is reality: Austin Tobin, too, had to make peace with New Jersey -- that's how the PA wound up running its own railroad -- and with the Rockefellers to get the Twin Towers built. The PA condemned those sixteen acres -- seized them via eminent domain from folks who'd lived and owned shops there their whole lives. Power, profit, politics: All the forces that shaped the World Trade Center forty long years ago -- including the Hudson River, including the private real estate barons whose outrage at a publicly funded agency building office towers to compete with their own led to lawsuits and ugly
public-relations campaigns -- haven't changed. Nothing has changed.
I'm not saying that's a good thing. I'm just saying that in 2050 no one will care how long it took, how much it cost, or who blamed whom for what -- same as those who come to Rockefeller Center to work or gawk at the Christmas tree don't care about John D. Rockefeller or the nine years required to finish its construction -- with one man of stupendous wealth in full command.
I'm saying that these forces are both inevitable and necessary, and that accidental, organic splendor blooms when the predations of capitalism, government, and art -- or at least, architecture -- are composted, day by day, by time and fate. This, too, does not change.
So figure five more years to get it done -- and enough already with the kvetching. Or else the terrorists have won.
Getting it done is one thing doing it right, which takes more than mere money and time when it comes to putting up a superskyscraper on this patch of land, is another. Any emirate with a purseful of petrocash can sink a slab of steel tubing into sand, stand it upright, call it the Burj Dubai, and deflower eighteen virgins to mark the grand opening -- but, damn it to hell, we're talking the Freedom Tower here.
(Yep, it's a silly, stupid name -- why else would the hush-hush Port Authority quietly anoint it One World Trade Center many moons ago, while assiduously denying they'd renamed it? -- but what's left of poor George Orwell's skull has already exploded a million times, which isn't to say that Orwell wouldn't finally toss his pen and lunch, were he alive, and weep in fury, but what can you do? Freedom Tower it is -- and shall be for the foreseeable future.)
At the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill office on Wall Street, a two-minute walk from ground zero if the goddamn tourists would stop clogging the sidewalk, George Pataki's Excellent Tower of Maximum Liberty has always been known as Tower One. SOM has been the premier corporate architecture firm in the world for decades -- the Burj is its baby so was the Sears Tower -- a North Star of sanity in a starfucking galaxy of spinning prima donnas whose ridiculous self-regard oozes down from their thick-framed fashion eyewear all the way to their cowboy boots.
Here at SOM, the grown-ups wear dark suits and white shirts with calm ties, the youngsters dress for the jobs they want -- many are headed to hipper shops, in search of the daring and edgy -- and the most vital statements speak of profit and loss. And here at SOM, they've been walking the Tower One wheel for seven years, through three governors, two complete redesigns, and a relentless barrage of critical derision.
None of which means anything to Carl Galioto, head of SOM's tech group. Owlish, mild as milk, Carl's the architect who works most closely with the engineers who have to find a way to build the building envisioned by the architects -- on time and under budget, if possible, sustainable and safe.
Carl can rhapsodize, quietly, about many things -- from the three city-bus-sized natural-gas fuel cells that will supply up to one quarter of Tower One's electricity to the sorry state of the New York Mets. But the most riveting area of Carl's vast expertise is the one he can't speak freely about, because of the bull's-eye the Freedom Tower wears: Carl Galioto is in charge of the tower's life-safety and security systems.
That's why, not long ago, he found himself in the New Mexico desert, watching as technicians blast-tested a full-scale mock-up of several upper floors of Tower One, using a load of explosives so powerful that Carl saw it only through a periscope, from an earthen bunker a quarter mile away.
"The typical weather-performance tests -- the airplane propeller, the wind and everything -- I've done that dozens of times. But watching a blast test was something I had never done. I'd seen a film of it -- we design federal office buildings -- but I had never personally witnessed one before. I wouldn't miss that."
For security reasons, Carl can't discuss the blast load itself, although when I tell him I have heard that the new Goldman Sachs tower was engineered to withstand the detonation of a small nuclear bomb, he blinks and says, "I know what that building was designed to -- and I can assure you it was not a nuclear device."
And not even Carl is so circumspect that he can't permit himself a small smile at the memory of New Mexico. Part of it is that the Tower One blast test confirmed the computer simulations and the engineering calculations. And part of it was just the thrill of a big-ass explosion.
"The entire bunker shook," Carl says. "It was just terrific."
One door down sits David Childs, the Freedom Tower's design daddy. In a working world wan with weltschmerz, where a critics' darling must fulfill some academic ideal of sculptural perfection and buildings serve as mere fodder for cultural analysis and triggers of emotion -- architecture has long attracted pompous political theorists whose self-regard is matched only by the contempt they drip on their peers -- Childs is every inch an old-school gentleman, brimming with boyish cheer even as he approaches age seventy, and even as his Freedom Tower -- a gently turned octagonal shaft that tapers to the exact height of the Twin Towers, topped by a 408-foot lighted spire -- has been derided as a monument to fear because of its 180-foot concrete cube of a base.
"This nonsense," Childs fumes -- over the years I've seen him fume before, but he fumes like the Yalie he is -- with dignity and circumspection. He fumes about the Port Authority's Calatrava-designed train station, budgeted at $2 billion but now slated to cost maybe twice as much: "There's no purpose to the building. It's a receiving hall. You can't get a ticket there, you can't get a Coke there -- it's a vestibule. And any possible way that you calculate it, it's the most expensive building ever built by mankind. And it has no purpose."
His angst is understandable. Childs inherited the Freedom Tower from another architect whose press clippings would stack up taller than anything he's ever built, and the job of designing a 2.6-million-square-foot office tower to meet the same security requirements of a U. S. embassy on unfriendly soil -- while simultaneously creating a symbolic lighthouse in the sky -- would give Vishwakarma pause. The only building completed at the Trade Center site since 9/11 is 7 WTC -- a glowing trapezoidal office tower that is nearly filled with market-rate tenants. Childs designed it and Larry Silverstein built it -- with no help from the Port Authority or politicians, which is why the thing got done -- but Childs gets no credit instead, he gets hammered about the Freedom Tower's base.
"When somebody attaches a phrase to something and it sticks, like 'the concrete bunker,' " he says. "Well, we know what that looks like: It's all concrete, with a little hole in it, and it looks terrible.
"In fact, this building's base is smaller than the original design, and it's much more porous. From the lobby level up, it's all open. And behind, it's got big trusses that you read through. You look through this fabric of the surface skin -- it's open. And when the glass is on it" -- Childs's design has the whole base wrapped in two-inch-thick prismatic glass -- "the faceted glass, it will cause prisms of light to break. I think it will be truly beautiful. All the light going through and bouncing back -- it's really going to be quite amazing."
Maybe. Problem is, after Silverstein and the Port went to the mattresses, the Port wound up in charge of putting up the Freedom Tower, which is like asking Stevie Wonder for a lift to LaGuardia. In a Yugo. And Childs doesn't just know that he's riding shotgun.
"If we get our glass," he says. He's not fuming he's pleading now. "We've got to get the right glass. A simple building is not tolerant of cost cuts. It is dependent on the detailing, on the right materials. You can't fool around with it."
He shakes his head in woe.
"And they're going to screw it up badly. They've already changed the stainless steel to aluminum -- all the spandrels. We redesigned it so that the spandrels aren't important, but we lost a piece of our very short vocabulary by having to do that. Now they want to change the glass."
Childs knows that this is how it goes with architects and their patrons, always. He speaks of Francesco Borromini in seventeenth-century Italy, and his Oratorio dei Filippini, the timeless product of a thirteen-year grudgefest with his client -- the cardinal of Rome.
"Ah, God, he couldn't get his right stone, and it was all compromise -- it was all the same stuff we deal with every day. Nothing changes. That's why you have to struggle and fight. Once you take this tower and you put it in its place -- you've got to do it right. It has this memory, this cerebral role to play. This is a good office building, and the structure works. But there's another thing that this building aspires to -- that other, final, symbolic, proportionate, light-filled thing that inspires you. You'd better damn well do it right."
Nothing changes -- human nature least of all. The sacred and profane, the artistic and commercial, the genteel and brutal: These forces collide on ground zero just as they do in each of us -- if we're lucky -- and shape us all, and all we do, to one universal, inevitable end. We live in space -- in a world we can touch and try to master -- but we're here for just a while before we're devoured by what we can't touch or master: time. We change. We die.
What we leave behind -- if we're lucky -- is love. What Bobby Coll and Hank Field left behind wasn't their love for family and friends it was the love their family and friends had for them. Nothing built by human hands lasts forever only love can redeem us to ourselves. These are the gifts we're given: a little bit of time and the capacity for love, to make connections of such depth and passion that they somehow redeem our venal, clownish selves.
Otherwise, parenting is just a biological imperative. Otherwise, a city is just an economic and demographic construct, and an office tower is just another beehive, and the blues and baseball and Hollywood -- and skyscrapers -- are just products of a barren culture that fooled itself into thinking it stood for something beyond the bottom line.
Could be. I've got a small, round stone from ground zero sitting right by my keyboard, holding down some notes -- one of countless perfectly spherical stones formed in what geotechnical scientists call a kettle hole they found this one as they were digging for bedrock strong enough to support the footings for one of the towers.
A kettle hole is formed as a glacier melts -- as the water forms a whirlpool that slowly carves a hole in the bedrock, little by little and day by day. The hole is round and smooth as silk, rounded and smoothed by the pieces of rock cut out by the swirling water -- as those pieces of rock are rounded and smoothed, little by little and day by day, in the process.
I'm not saying it's a symbol or a metaphor. I'm saying it's a rock -- and it took a lot longer to make than any building at ground zero, and it will last more or less forever, and it will still be nothing but a fucking rock, with all the capacity for love of a fucking rock.
I'm saying that I decided when I started going down to ground zero that I wasn't going to keep a cool intellectual or "professional" -- or political -- distance from my feelings about the place. All the awful stupidity in the wake of 9/11 -- the gutting of the Constitution, hundreds of thousands of people killed, the apparently endless fearmongering -- have zilch to do with the place itself or, in truth, with the actual events of that day.
What happened that day was plenty bad enough. But it's nothing that this city hasn't long since recovered from -- and I see that every time I go down there.
As for love, well, it's not easy to write about, but like paintings of sad clowns and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, it must mean something. I love New York City, and ground zero, and -- God help me -- the Freedom Tower. Like David Childs, I know they'll get it wrong, but I know it'll turn out better than this fucking rock.
What will it mean a century from now? A soaring paean to the resilient soul of a nation -- or George W. Bush's spike of idiopathic overreaction to Islamofascist terror? Misbegotten relic -- or slender, faceted, simple pointer beside a memorial to a dark day stitched forever into human history? Just one more anthill of faceless paper shufflers -- or a jaw-dropping ode to form and function?
The only right answer is: Yes. Of course. All of the above.
And when they finally get it done, it will inspire its own version of the reaction almost every other man-made New York City landmark has endured, including the Twin Towers -- and the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center: Everyone will piss on it with fervent scorn -- and then, sooner or later, it will belong.
One World Observatory Review: Visiting the Freedom Tower
The Freedom Tower is a familiar sight to most New Jersey residents. We've watched it being built and slowly jetting into the New York skyline from afar. We've waited for the day that we could step through its doors and feel the awesome power of resilience and pride (mixed with sadness, too). The Jersey Momma's Boy grew up after 9/11, so he never saw the Twin Towers with his own eyes. But he watched the Freedom Tower rise, and we knew one day we would want to bring him there when he was old enough. We finally had the chance to take him to One World Observatory, and what a trip it was! If you're curious what it's like to visit, especially with children, read on!
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I will admit that I was a little nervous to take our son to One World Observatory, but I had to step back and ask myself why. For one, I was nervous about safety. That might seem silly, but it was in the back of my mind. And two, I was nervous that our son was going to ask questions that I couldn't answer. He is still very young, and although he understands that the Twin Towers collapsed and that many people died, he doesn't exactly understand how or why. That explanation will come in time, especially since we have a boy who is always asking questions!
I ultimately decided that we can't live our lives in fear. I did not want to keep him from a historical landmark because of my own fears of terrorism. Fear is what helps to keep terrorism alive and thriving. I have a dear friend who lives near the new Freedom Tower, and she told me how quiet and peaceful it was there. That helped ease my fears. So in we went. We decided to drive and took the Holland Tunnel in, but mass transit is also an option. NY Waterway ferry is a fantastic option for families, and a super easy way to travel into the city. Plus, it's kind of fun!
Planning Your Trip and Getting There
I know it's not always easy to plan ahead based on the weather, but if you can visit One World Observatory on a clear day, you will truly get the most out of it. The views are absolutely stunning, and a clear day will allow you to see so much more! You can purchase your tickets online in advance, and save yourself some wait time once you arrive. Hours of operation vary, so again, check their website or call ahead to find out when they'll be open.
Ticket prices vary, since they offer all kinds of packages and tickets, so please check out their website for exact details. You can also try signing up for their emails or follow them on Facebook or Instagram for deals and coupons. And try googling for Promo Codes before purchasing online! Note that ticket prices for One World Observatory are similar to the cost of visiting The Empire State Building or Top of the Rock (at Rockefeller Center), if you want to compare.
We parked at a small parking garage within walking distance to the tower. Parking garages in New York can cost a hefty sum (especially on weekends or during the holidays- or even based on the size of your vehicle!), but if you don't mind this and like to have your car close by, it's the way to go. Of course, you can also take mass transit, and there are so many options in the city. I am no expert in this area, so feel free to check out 'Getting Here' on the One World Observatory site. This is really your most economical option, especially if you don't like driving in the city! I highly, highly recommend the NY Waterway ferry. This is by far the easiest way to travel with a family from New Jersey, in my personal opinion!
We walked through the Oculus Transportation Hub to get to the World Trade Center. It's essentially a connection between New Jersey's PATH trains and New York City subways, and it is truly an amazing structure! As we walked through it, we kept saying that it looked like The Axiom. If you've ever seen Disney's Wall-e, then you understand the reference!
There is a mall inside with high end stores and cafes, known as Westfield World Trade Center. You can find a list of their stores and eateries on their website. We stopped for coffee and a cookie at a little cafe before we headed to the tower.
One World Observatory
Once we arrived at One World Observatory, we had to wait on line, even though we had pre-purchased tickets. This was because we somehow got stuck behind three schools visiting for field trips! Oh well, just bad timing, I guess, because when we exited a few hours later, there was no one on line at all. Just for a reference, we visited on a weekday in the Fall, around 11am.
There is a security area to pass through but you didn't have to take off your shoes or anything, so I was thankful for that! If you're concerned about security or curious what their security process is, please check the FAQ section of their website. It was very much like airport security, where you walk through a metal detector and they also check your bags and belongings. Strollers are permitted but must be folded up for the elevators.
Once inside, we wound through some twisting hallways until we arrived at the elevators. There were some videos playing about the construction of the tower and they tell you a little bit about the rock formations beneath you. There was no reference to 9/11 and they kept the focus on the tower construction itself, which was very interesting.
From here you'll enter the Sky Pod elevator. The elevator ride to the top of the building was really cool. Since your actual visit takes place on floors 100, 101, and 102, it's quite a ride to the top! The inside elevator walls are actually floor to ceiling LED screens showing you the evolution of New York City.. I have heard you can spot the Twin Towers somewhere in this time lapse but I didn't see them. The ride up is very quick (about 60 seconds!). Because of the screens around you, it doesn't even seem like you're traveling up that far, but you can definitely feel your ears popping! There is a little image on the elevator screen wall to show you where you are in your climb. *Note that there is no staircase option. Stairs are for emergency use only, so the elevator is your only way to the top.
Once you exit the elevator, you'll be ushered into another room to the See Forever theater (which is standing room only, but it just lasts a few minutes). The film itself is nothing extraordinary, but there is a surprise at the end that left everyone gasping! Some people actually cheered, it was that exciting. I won't ruin it for you here.
Inside One World Observatory
Tablet Rental: From here you're ushered into another room where you can purchase a mobile tablet rental for your experience (they pitch this to you, but know that it's entirely optional to rent it- I think it was around $15). You can carry it around and point it out the windows while you view the city. The tablet will give you an explanation of what you're seeing and some quick facts. We passed on this but we did see some people carrying them around. I think this might be a good option for visitors who are brand new to the city, or perhaps visitors from other countries. It is also a good option if you happen to visit during gloomy weather (the tablet will enable you to pinpoint locations in the fog or if it's hazy, when you otherwise might not be able to see them).
Photo Opp: Once you get past the tablet pitch, you'll be in the main observatory. They'll take your picture against a blue screen here, and you can purchase it upon exiting for a small fee. We did wind up buying ours because we thought it was a nice souvenir of our trip. There were two options for background choices, too, since they take you against a blue screen.
There is so much to see once you reach the observatory! Be sure to walk around the entire circumference. It's truly breath-taking.
I was excited to see the 'Sky Portal' that they advertised on the One World Trade website. I thought it would be some kind of view straight down to the floors below you, but it was really a digital image on a screen that you walk on top of. I thought that was a little disappointing.
But don't worry, the rest of the views make up for it. You can even spot the Statue of Liberty!
Just note that brighter colored clothing seems to reflect in the windows, so if you want to take a great picture while you're there, consider wearing darker colors that won't reflect in the glass.
I was amazed at the amount of people trying to take selfies by the windows. I have never seen so many selfie sticks in my life.
There are also some observatory presentations that you can watch, hosted by some very animated narrators. I couldn't get The Jersey Momma's Boy to sit and listen to what they had to say, but know that this is another option for you when visiting! It's free and you just stop and listen to them while you're walking around.
There is a gift shop that sells a variety of nice items, from t-shirts to glasses to key chains. The Jersey Momma's Boy picked out a One World Trade teddy bear. Ain't he cute?
Dining at One World Observatory
We did not eat at One World Observatory, so I can't attest to the experience. Now open is their One Dine restaurant (a fine dining experience OR a quick bite option). If you'd like to eat here, be sure to make reservations way in advance! You can make reservations online. See my JERSEY MOMMA TIPS below for more suggestions on where to eat.
The Memorial Fountains
Just outside the Freedom Tower you'll find the 9/11 Memorial Fountains and Plaza. They are located in the exact spots that the Twin Towers were, and they are truly beautiful. They are not affiliated with One World Observatory, so use the link I just provided if you want to find out information about them.
Across the way is the 9/11 Memorial Museum, but we did not go in. I didn't think The Jersey Momma's Boy was ready for that yet. I wasn't so sure I could handle it either. The two fountains are surrounded by carved names of the people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Loved ones left flowers by some of the names. It made me want to stop and remember them, too.
It is humbling. In the space where I was standing, I happened to look down and saw the name of a mother and her unborn child. They're not just names. They are people- wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends. Was it a coincidence that I happened to be standing right in front of another momma? Rahma Salie and your unborn child, I will remember you, and now my readers know you, too.
This was the only moment that was difficult for us in our visit. The Jersey Momma's Boy asked why some names had flowers in them. He was amazed that the spaces where the fountains were once housed two huge buildings. I'm not sure if he grasped how many lives were lost there, but I think somehow, he understood the sadness of it all.
All in all, this was a wonderful trip. I highly recommend a visit, since it was truly a sight to see, and now a part of our history.
*Try to visit on a clear day if you can- it will make all the difference in the views!
*Purchase tickets online in advance
*Strollers are permitted but they will ask you to fold them up for the elevator rides (and you MUST take the elevator to access the observatory- there are no stairs for use except in emergencies)
*If you visit the Memorial Fountains, you might enjoy seeing The Survivor Tree. There is a whole story behind it, of how it survived the attacks on 9/11, was nursed back to health and replanted again. It now stands tall in the plaza. See if you can find it!
*Plan where you'd like to eat. There is another mall right across the street from the tower called Brookfield Place, but it was SUPER CROWDED at lunch time (this is New York, after all). We wound up walking down the street to Bill's Bar and Burger in the Marriott. This was a fairly good meal but we had to wait a very long time for our food, and then my meal (figures) was completely screwed up. The manager was kind enough to offer us some amazing milkshakes to make up for the wait time, though!
The Observatory: One World Trade Center looking squarely to the future
I f you blink a couple times, or let yourself be distracted by your ears popping as the high-speed elevator rises 102 floors in 47 seconds, you might very easily miss it. The only mention of the Twin Towers, and their destruction on 9/11, flashes past you in a heartbeat.
It comes towards the end of a multimedia depiction of 500 years of New York history that is displayed as a panorama as you shoot up to the Observatory, the new viewing station at the top of One World Trade Center that opens to the public on Friday. As you rise up the building the view of downtown Manhattan transitions digitally in front of your eyes from grassy swamp, through early village settlements, to sprouting skyscrapers.
And then suddenly the Twin Towers emerge, somewhere in the late 1960s, only to vanish about three seconds later.
And that’s it. There’s no other reference to that dreadful day, to the more than 2,700 people who died, or to the epic and at times ugly struggle to rebuild at Ground Zero that followed, culminating with the construction of the tallest building in the western hemisphere at the top of which we are now standing.
What there is, is a paean to height. New York is back up in the clouds, the message clearly states, so let’s celebrate.
The views are certainly worth celebrating. On a clear afternoon, as Tuesday was, with just a slight haze in the air, you truly can see for miles.
To the south your eye drifts over Lady Liberty waving as the Staten Island ferry chugs along in diminutive form like a toy tug in a bath. To the east the super-fashionable neighborhoods of Brooklyn look as though you can reach out and grab an artisanal coffee, while farther out, fly-sized jets buzz over JFK.
The Sky Portal which shows real-time footage of the streets below. Photograph: Qin Lang/Xinhua Press/Corbis
To the west, well, that’s New Jersey, enough said. And to the north, there’s the Empire State building, naturally. Its familiar outline, reduced to matchstick proportions from here, looks comfortingly familiar but also – whisper it – a little bit tired.
It’s taken more than 13 years to get to this point since American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 brought down the twin towers. More than 13 years of costly delays, at times bitter politicking and almost $4bn was expended to reach the historically symbolic 1,776ft (541m) at the tip of One World Trade Center’s beacon.
View of Manhhatan from the observation deck. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
None of the up to 4 million visitors who are expected to make the elevator ride up to the Observatory every year will be any the wiser about that nuanced history, judging from what they will learn on the tour. From the perspective of the viewing station, the memorial aspect of Ground Zero is diminished, pushed to the background even.
Take the commemorative pool that sits in the footprint of the stricken North Tower. To see it you have to lean your body against the viewing window and stare straight down in a manoeuvre that induces alarmingly the sensation of falling.
It’s all quite consciously done, according to David Checketts, the CEO of Legends, operator of the new observatory. “The whole experience was about looking forwards, a sort of fist bump for having put this building up. It’s all about courage and resilience, and our goal is to present New York in the best possible light,” he told reporters at the outset of the tour.
To be fair, the building sits alongside the 9/11 memorial museum where the tragic events of September 2001 are marked with exhibition space beneath ground. There is too a new sense of New York City beginning to reach up to the skies again, after decades of architectural stagnation.
Looking down into the commemorative pool built where the North Tower stood. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
New skyscrapers, gravity-defying in their slimness and elevation, have started to spring up all over Manhattan, from Frank Gehry’s glistening and twisting tower just under the nose of the Observatory, to Rafael Vinoly’s 432 Park Avenue and the Nordstrom Tower which is under construction in West 57th Street and will stop, in deference to One World Trade Center, just one foot shorter at 1,775ft.
But most of these new super-skyscrapers are residential buildings catering for the global (often absentee) super-rich. Vinoly’s 432 Park Avenue boasts a $95m penthouse.
There’s more than a slight whiff of that commercial sensibility in the new observatory – inevitably perhaps given the enormous sums that have to be recouped. The designers of the Observatory have thrown in every bit of whizz-bang digital innovation they can think of – from iPads telling you what view you are looking at, with a narration by novelist Jay McInerney (at $15 extra cost), to the “City Pulse” that creates a “concierge experience” using gesture recognition technology. Adult tickets are $32 if booked online.
To round off the tour there is the souvenir shop. Among its delights: a glass model of One World Trade Center for $200, or if that is beyond budget, an observatory polo shirt for $174.95.
Perhaps the message of the observatory is right for New York in 2015. Perhaps it is time for the city to look up and move on. But where to – that’s the question.
A weekend for the books- part 1.
this weekend (really Thursday-Monday) was a truly wonderful, busy, and joy filled weekend! my boy came to visit from Ohio. we’re lucky that we only have to deal with ‘long distance’ for
2 months out of the year.. but it doesn’t make those 2 months any easier. This visit was especially great because it was the first time Nate (my boy) has visited my family/my town. I’ve already been to his house 4 times so this visit was long overdue!
due to the visit, we had action filled days and lots of pictures to share!
the boy arrived on Thursday night- an hour late, but we made it work! After an hour drive from the airport, we met my family (+1 of my best friends) at Baja Grill a local mexican restaurant that makes fresh and delicious food- plus they have plenty of healthy options. We enjoyed and chatted away- it was the perfect casual setting for everyone to get to know each other. I definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone local!
After dinner, we all headed back to my house for some amazing desserts. On top of the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, we were lucky enough to have a homemade dark chocolate cake- courtesy of my sweet Mom! She used this recipe for Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Cake and she even made the icing from scratch. Unfortunately I don’t have a good picture of the cake, but you can catch a glimpse of the dark, rich color on Nate’s plate below!
The night ended with some catching up for Nate and I, and then passing out from sheer exhaustion.
Then on Friday we were left crafting new plans unexpectedly. We had planned to go to the beach for my Ohio boy- they don’t have beaches there, and I think we have some of the best on Long Island. But the rain/cold sort of prevented that. We didn’t mind though- being creative is always fun! Instead of the beach, we headed over to a local nature preserve- Avalon Park and Preserve.
It is a really gorgeous place, and a lot larger than I realized. It’s 76 acres of wild nature (mostly- minus the trails) right in the middle of our little suburbia. I was pretty shocked and amazed.
While in the preserve we tried to geocache but after crawling under bushes and trees with no luck…we decided it wasn’t meant to be.
then we wandered around some local towns, and I showed him what my hometown is all about. after that, it was back home to help prepare for a party that night- a party for all my friends/my family friends to meet Nate.
we had way too much fun dipping cookies and making mischief!
the party went really well, but I didn’t take any pictures for the sake of just enjoying the night!
Saturday we went into NYC and Sunday we celebrated Father’s day…a recap part 2 coming later!
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AHA: Study of 9/11 Survivors Finds Lasting Impact
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5, 2018 (American Heart Association) -- Back when Charlie Wilson was an avid runner, the only flutter he ever felt in his chest came from indigestion.
That changed on Sept. 11. The now-retired New York police sergeant spent nearly every day for the next six months at the World Trade Center. He helped with rescue and cleanup missions, all while breathing in the hazardous dust still settling over lower Manhattan.
The work soon left Wilson with horrible sinus problems. Years later, he developed sleep apnea and asthma. And on Oct. 19, 2011, Wilson received a pacemaker after years of dealing with an irregular heartbeat.
Wilson, 59, is among thousands of first responders, volunteers and New York residents with ailments and diseases linked to 9/11. More than 71,800 first responders and 16,600 survivors currently receive treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program.
Yet, 17 years after the world's deadliest terrorist attack, research has only started to uncover ways in which the aftermath has literally altered the hearts and minds of those affected.
Respiratory illnesses were among the first widely reported health issues, usually characterized by chronic coughing and wheezing. Acid reflux was another common complaint, along with sleep apnea and sinus problems that often led to blocked upper airways.
Many of the problems were linked to the fact that the collapse of the twin towers filled the air with numerous carcinogenic particles and chemicals, including asbestos and fiberglass, exposing anyone within reach of the colossal cloud.
Only more recently has research shown a link between the dust and cardiovascular health.
A study published last year in the journal Environment International found that New York children exposed to the dust because of where they lived in the wake of 9/11 may be at higher risk for heart disease. Blood tests of teens and young adults who were children when the twin towers fell showed high levels of artery-clogging cholesterol.
Another study published this summer in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes showed a link between cardiovascular health and post-traumatic stress disorder, a common illness among 9/11 rescuers, volunteers and survivors. The research found that response crew workers who suffered from PTSD had more than double the risk for heart attacks or strokes than those without the disorder.
Dr. Alfredo Morabia, the study's lead author, noted that heart disease is not formally recognized as a World Trade Center-related condition, but substantial research has demonstrated the need for medical insurers to consider the connection as such.
"I think the evidence is very strong," said Morabia, a professor of epidemiology at both New York's Columbia University and the City University of New York.
Dr. Aaron Pinkhasov, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, said he is not surprised to see research linking PTSD with cardiovascular health.
PTSD affects the part of the brain that responds to fear, and the brain can overreact to even benign situations. This disrupts the immune system and triggers an inflammatory response known to harden arteries. It also affects social behavior, sometimes leading to a withdrawn, sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary choices that can elevate stroke and heart attack risk, he said.
Other studies published this year in JAMA Oncology found that World Trade Center firefighters have a heightened risk of developing a type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. It is expected that they also have a greater chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, thyroid cancer and melanoma in years to come.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Wilson was a NYPD sergeant helping set up polls for a primary election when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. He immediately headed downtown and began evacuating people from the area.
When the second tower collapsed, "it was like a wave just picked me up, like body surfing," Wilson recalled. "It picked me up and threw me over the top of (a) van."
Wilson ended up breaking his back, but continued working until 3 a.m. the next morning.
In an Injury Epidemiology study last year, people like Wilson who sustained significant injuries on 9/11 were twice as likely to develop heart disease as people who didn't.
Wilson's back injuries eventually prompted him to retire from the police department in 2005. Other health problems followed, including the heart flutter that doctors failed to diagnose for years until shortly before he got his pacemaker. The device picked up another heart condition called atrial fibrillation.
His heart problems have not officially been tied to 9/11, he said.
"With all the research they're doing now, it will happen," he said. "It's going to come out eventually, but I don't know if I'll be around to see it."
Milk, Finely Ground Crab Meat, Minced Lobster Meat, Non-GMO, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Wheat Flour, Salt, Native Tapioca Starch, Sherry, Evap. Cane Juice, Seasoned Salt (Salt, Sugar, Onion, Cornstarch, Paprika, Turmeric, Garlic), Pepper, Parsley and Garlic.
Directions for use: fully cooked. Heat gently until steaming hot. For a creamier bisque, add milk or cream to desired consistency. Garnish as desired.
Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.