World Trade Center

 

The World Trade Center has become more to the world than its creators, architects and benefactors could have ever hoped for. It was created in hopes of unity, as it would become the home to the new united nations of lower Manhattan. The original Twin Towers faced a whirlwind of problems in both the construction and the acceptance. It eventually became the most iconic symbol for terrorism in the United States, and ultimately reshaped our entire nation. The rebuild of The World Trade Center 1 will never embody the same significance the Twins did, but American’s hearts will always lie at Ground Zero. The World Trade Center was the first attempt at globalization, and for its affects on our world, we will be forever regretful and forever thankful.

The idea for the World Trade center came first in 1946, immediately after the end of World War II. The New York State Legislature appointed Winthrop Aldrich, the chairman of the Chase Bank and a member of the Rockefeller family, to look into the project’s feasibility.[1] It was anticipated to be a five-million-square-foot vicinity that was originally only supposed to display traded goods from around the world. The mere monstrosity of the buildings would not be conceived until later. It would be a place for globalized trade, and it would exemplify the very existence of New York City and its roots to a union of many nations.

From the very beginning, the building was thought up in the hopes of great grandeur. The towers would represent a new and improved free world after the war. The original expectations for Post War America were to be centralized around battle and war ideals. Ironically, the focus switched to markets and was centralized on global trade. This new outlook would be embodied within the towers. It would no longer just become a regular office building, but would also become a showcase for the world and an international market place. It would be made up of local wealthy economists, lawyers, and businessmen that were appointed to government by Franklin D. Roosevelt. These businessmen had a vision of the United States using its power to create a stable political and economic world. They would create these towers to centralize the marketplace of America’s economies powerhouse in downtown Manhattan.

It took about ten years after the original idea of The World Trade Center before building plans were created. Lower Manhattan was in jeopardy of losing its status as the financial center of New York City. Major companies took their business uptown and created large office buildings far from the financial district. As the governor of New York, it was Nelson Rockefeller’s job to save the birthplace of economics and world trade in our country. He decided that no place in the old port district would go unchanged. He tore down piers, small businesses, and old market places and suppliers. They built new residential developments and widened streets. They reshaped lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center would be the focal point.[2]

The proposed ideas for the towers were monstrous from the beginning, and the risks involved were even higher. The Port Authority was anticipating a building of magnificence but had no buyers for office space and no potential inhabitants. The prediction for that amount of space in one gigantic building was more than necessary and there was a fear that the building would be completely empty. However, the plans only grew more and more grand. According to Ric Burns, in the fall on 1962, word spread of the plans for the building. The Port Authority’s public relations director, Lee R. Jaffe got ahold of the plans and said, “Incidentally, if you’re going to build a great project, you should build the world’s tallest building.”[3] This statement spread citywide and eventually reached Guy Tozzoli, the co-director of the Port Authority for this particular project. The mere thought of building, “the worlds tallest building” excited Tozzoli and his immediate mission was to find an architect crazy enough to build it.

The construction started in 1966 with American architect Minoru Yamasaki, who was known for putting his clients desires ahead of his own. The risk of these buildings was even within the chosen architect, as Minoru had only ever built a building as tall as twenty-eight stories prior to this new ambitious project. The project was to become a new physical and economic center for downtown Manhattan. It was always imagined to be giant; something totally unusual to downtown Manhattan and different to New York City. It was anticipated to be a symbol to international relations and the true dependence on globalization.

The World Trade Center 1964: New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller examining the first architectural model for the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Minoru Yamasaki, the American architect that was the main architect and biggest influence on the twin’s production, is also admiring the beauty of the towers.
The World Trade Center 1964: New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller examining the first architectural model for the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Minoru Yamasaki, the American architect that was the main architect and biggest influence on the twin’s production, is also admiring the beauty of the towers.

Minoru experimented with many models, about 105[4], both massive singular buildings, and a few of two slim buildings. Overall, the consensus kept coming back to the idea of two slim towers that mirrored one another. The inspiration came from an architect that Minoru idolized, German born architect Miles Van Der Rohe, who had built a similar set of twin towers on the Chicago lakefront.[5] The original plan was to build the tallest building in the world, and although the buildings were still much shorter than the Empire State Building, the architectural design of having two towers instead of one still sounded fantastic, if not, even more exciting.

Although these plans of grandeur for the World Trade Center sounded exciting, the local New Yorkers hated the idea of the Port Authority building this new atrocity in lower Manhattan. According to Desmond Smith in 1966, in an article called “Manhattans Tower of Babel”, he recalls the many lawsuits between

Desmond Smith Preconceived Towers: In 1966, the year the towers started to be built, Desmond Smith wrote an article and included a drawing of what New Yorkers should expect the twin towers to look like. This is a historical photo of a preconceived idea.
Desmond Smith Preconceived Towers: In 1966, the year the towers started to be built, Desmond Smith wrote an article and included a drawing of what New Yorkers should expect the twin towers to look like. This is a historical photo of a preconceived idea.

the city and the Port Authority.[6] The Port Authority pleaded to the court that the World Trade Center would be a public benefit because it would be the world’s biggest real estate development and was necessary for export and import trade as well as a platform for a large migration of immigrants to fuel the economy. They promised that the World Trade Center would give almost all of its square footage to small businesses. The problem with this proposition was that New Yorkers knew better than to trust big businessmen, and were sure that their plans would wipe out small businesses in the district. They were also positive that their promises were only lies to cover up a mass scheme to give only three hundred thousand of the ten million square feet to private business and the rest would go to public wealthy corporations.[7]

As Desmond predicted, the Port Authority won the court cases and were granted permission to build the twin towers. Under the jurisdiction of Austin J. Tobin, the director of the Port Authority, the World Trade Center would become the largest single urban development project in history.[8] According to Burns, the twin towers were built in the most inconsiderate way. It quickly became the largest and most destructive urban renewal project ever created. It completely wiped out everything within a sixteen-acre site, which knocked down about two hundred buildings that included eight hundred small businesses.[9] For the next five years the city would undergo immense turmoil. New York City lost millions of dollars in property taxes, thousands of people were out of work, mass amounts of thriving small businesses were shut down, TV and radio broadcasters were constantly on sight biasedly bashing the towers, and there were constantly protestors preventing construction. The protestors were so upset that they held a mock funeral for “Mr. Small Businessman”, a popular mascot for the protestor’s movement. A majority of the press covering the construction of the building was negative, and so more and more people turned against the project. Perhaps the biggest hit came after a lash from the real estate agents, who deemed the World Trade Center as unfair competition, and refused to help participate in selling out the units.

The North and South Tower in their final years of construction. The North Tower was always ahead of its twin, which would also be built 6 feet shorter than its older sibling.
The North and South Tower in their final years of construction. The North Tower was always ahead of its twin, which would also be built 6 feet shorter than its older sibling.

On August 6, 1968, the towers started construction. It took about three years for the ironwork alone to be finished on the building, and about two years to see a noticeable amount of progress. On December 23, 1970 the construction on the North Tower was complete, and seven months later on July 19, 1971, the South Tower was completed. On both occasions a ceremony called the “topping out” ceremony[10], where the American Flag was raised above the buildings, was held. Workers were honored and some remembered. In total, eight workers died in the construction of the towers, this was surprisingly a very small number on average compared to other Sky Scrapers in the city.

In a newspaper article written on Tuesday, October 19, 1971, right after the construction of the towers was finished, Edward C. Burke writes “World Trade Center, Rising in a Noisy and

The World Trade Center in 1975: An aerial view of The World Trade Center after finally being completed after years of construction. The photo also features an aerial view of lower Manhattan and it captures the velocity of the height of these two buildings compared to the rest of Manhattan.
The World Trade Center in 1975: An aerial view of The World Trade Center after finally being completed after years of construction. The photo also features an aerial view of lower Manhattan and it captures the velocity of the height of these two buildings compared to the rest of Manhattan.

Confusing World”. This was an article that addressed a lot of the initial concerns regarding the tower. He writes that fifty thousand tenants are expected to move in, and one thousand eighteen hundred people would be representing one hundred and eleven companies, trade agencies and governments. There would be an international school on the thirteenth floor. And there were plans of many international residents to live in the buildings[11]. After almost a decade of commotion over the dishonesty of the towers intentions, things were finally falling into place. There was an astounding amount of interest in the towers all of a sudden, and just as Nelson Rockefeller wished, they were thriving. The anticipation for the towers opening only grew as construction continued. The North tower was 1,368 feet tall and the South Tower was 1,362 feet tall; which made towers become the tallest buildings in New York City at 110 stories high, and for a brief period of time, they were the tallest buildings in the world.

The cover of a New York newspaper proceeding the February 26, 1993 bombing on the North Tower. This was a mere brush with terrorism compared to what would come.
The cover of a New York newspaper proceeding the February 26, 1993 bombing on the North Tower. This was a mere brush with terrorism compared to what would come.

In the years following the opening of the 16 acre “commercial complex”[12] World Trade Center, they excelled the New Yorkers expectation as well as its builders. It because a terminal for both the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) and the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority). It was an extremely popular place, as 500 tenants rented office space, and thousands visiting everyday for leisure, shopping, business and entertainment. It seemed as if the earth revolved around the World Trade Center, and nothing could interrupt the success it brought, or the popularity of the towers. That was until February 26, 1993 when the first terrorists attacked the beloved World Trade Center. According to “February 26, 1993: The World Trade Center is Bombed”, a journal written by Allen Pusey, the tower was bombed using a rented Ford Econoline that drove into the parking garage of the North Tower. After lighting the 20-foot fused, 1,300-pound bomb, the two men walked out of the garage unharmed. When the bomb exploded, it left a crater that was six stories deep into the center. It obliterated the lobby of the Vista Hotel, killed 6 and injured over a thousand. The ringleader of this attack was recognized as Ramzi Yousef, an experienced terrorist who specialized in bombs. He snuck into the United States using a fake passport. After rounding up a group of Middle Eastern immigrants who advocated terrorism, he was able to conduct the attack. [13]

This attack was minor to the horrific tragedy that occurred on the morning of September 11, 2001, an attack that utterly reshaped The United States of America indefinitely. According to the official website of the 9/11 memorial,

“9/11” is shorthand for four coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda, an Islamist extremist group, that occurred on the morning of September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,977 people. On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists from al-Qaeda, hijacked four commercial airplanes, deliberately crashing two of the planes into the upper floors of the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex and a third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. The Twin Towers ultimately collapsed because of the damage sustained from the impacts and the resulting fires. After learning about the other attacks, passengers on the fourth hijacked plane, Flight 93, fought back, and the plane was crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania about 20 minutes by air from Washington, DC. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people from 93 nations. 2,753 people were killed in New York, 184 people were killed at the Pentagon and 40 people were killed on Flight 93. [14]

Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower from the 93 to the 99 floors, and Flight 175 crashed into floors 77 to 85 of the South Tower. The crash would change the lives of the estimated 18,000 people inside the buildings. It is believed that the reason for the attack was that, “The terrorists did not have the capacity to destroy the United States militarily, so they set their sights on symbolic targets instead. The Twin Towers, as the centerpieces of the World Trade

The most horrific day in Americas history. The attack on The World Trade Centers Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
The most horrific day in Americas history. The attack on The World Trade Centers Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

Center, symbolized globalization and America’s economic power and prosperity.”[15]

The attacks on the World Trade Center only exemplify the importance the towers had on our nation. It would be a hit to not only America, but to every international business that resided in the World Trade Center. It would be an attack on every country on our Earth because it was a devastating attack that affected families of all different racial backgrounds. If it did not take someone in your own family, it probably took someone in your friend’s family. From start to finish, the towers were infamous.

The towers cannot be blamed for all the damage they have done. Their creators were selfish and money hungry, and their destroyers were of the most inhumane extremists. Their purpose was to save a struggling financial district while shocking the world with their beauty. Back in the post war 1950s, when the Twin Towers were still just a thought inside an ambitious city planners mind, they were going to be a symbol for a united world. But today, we remember them as a symbol that united America in way nothing besides a tragedy could have. Their lifespan was short but well lived and they served a great purpose. They will forever be remembered as the vessel for what broke America, but what’s spirit glued us back together.

[1] Ric Burns and James Sanders, New York: An Illustrated History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), 559.

[2] Burns and Sanders, 560-563.

[3] Burns and Sanders, 566.

[4] Burns and Sanders, 567.

[5] Burns and Sanders, 567.

[6] Smith, Desmond. “Manhattan’s Tower of Babel.” Nation 202, no. 9 (February 28, 1966): 235. Points of View Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed November 17, 2016)

[7] Desmond, 2.

[8] Burns and Sanders, 565.

[9] Burns and Sanders, 567.

[10] Burns and Sanders, 574.

[11] EDWARD C. “World Trade Center Rising in Noisy, Confusing World.” New York Times (1923-Current file): 45. Oct 19 1971. ProQuest. Web. 5 Oct. 2016.

[12] “FAQ about 9/11.” National September 11 Memorial & Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2016. <https://www.911memorial.org/faq-about-911>.

 

 

[13] Pusey, Allen. 2016. “Feb. 26, 1993: The World Trade Center is bombed.” ABA Journal 11. Business Source Elite, EBSCOhost (accessed December 13, 2016).

[14] 9/11 FAQ, 2.

[15] 9/11 FAQ, 3.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Smith, Desmond. “Manhattan’s Tower of Babel.” Nation 202.9 (1966): 235. Points of View Reference Center. Primary Source. 5 Oct. 2016.

This is an excellent primary source, as it was written on February 28, 1966. This is an interesting article because it was written before the towers were built. It includes a picture of what Smith expected the towers to look like. He writes to his readers with a common civilian fear, “Is there going to be any where to walk within our city?” I would like to use this in my project to give the peoples point of view of the towers.

EDWARD C. “World Trade Center Rising in Noisy, Confusing World.” New York Times (1923-Current file): 45. Oct 19 1971. ProQuest. Web. 5 Oct. 2016.

This newspaper article was written on Tuesday, October 17, 1971, the time of the World Trade Center Construction. This is a good primary source because it shows the peoples view on the construction on the towers. This will contribute to the peoples voice about the towers. Also it included how people around the world are viewing the towers at this point in time.

Pusey, Allen. “Feb. 26, 1993: The World Trade Center Is Bombed.” ABA Journal (2016): 11. Business Source Elite. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.

This article explains the events of the bombing of the towers in 1993. This attack was the first major one on the towers. It opened the yes to both the nation and the resident of New York City that this was a major part of international trade and some people were not happy about it. I would like to use this in my project to emphasize the crucial role the twin towers played in globalization.

Burns, Ric, et all. New York: An Illustrated History. Random House, Inc., November 5, 2003, New York, N.Y. (558-602). Print.

This source is excellent for my research. It is a book that includes a backstory for the men who came up with the idea for the World Trade Center in 1946. It follows the construction, including the issues that arose during the process. This book contains pictures on the twin towers in construction and afterwards. It follows the twin towers to their destruction in the catastrophe of 9/11 and mentions the start of the rebuild. It follows the exact time line of the World Trade Center that I would like to follow in my project.

“FAQ about 9/11.” National September 11 Memorial & Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2016. <https://www.911memorial.org/faq-about-911>.

This is the official website for the 9/11 attacks. There is a lot of information on the attacks, the cause and the repercussions. This was the worst terrorist attack in the United States history. It completely reshaped America; we will never be the same. The World Trade Center was given an entire new meaning. This is essential to include in my essay, as it is what we all remember whenever we think of the twin towers.

Ruchelman, Leonard I. “The New York World Trade Center In Perspective.” Urbanism Past & Present 6 (1978): 29-38. America: History & Life. Web. 5 Oct. 2016.

This is a great source because it is an academic journal that is dedicated to focusing on who was positively affected by the World Trade Center and who was negatively affected by the World Trade Center. This book was originally published and written before the two terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center, therefore there was no bias to the writing. It is a book that will help me create the point of not only the global aspect of the towers, but also its economical beneficiary.

Salomon, David L. “Divided Responsibilities: Minoru Yamasaki, Architectural Authorship, and the World Trade Center.” Grey Room 2002: 87. JSTOR Journals. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

This is a good source because it a short overview of Minoru Yamasaki’s life during the time of The World Trade Center’s construction. He was the main architect on the project, and his influence is crucial to the development of these towers.

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