The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Trade Center is a new but emotionally-charged icon for New York City. The spiritual successor to the Twin Towers of the first World Trade Center, the tower rose from the ashes of 9/11 to become a symbol of both New York City and America’s strength and resilience. Few people, however, really know the hidden history behind this iconic skyscraper.
After the September 11 attacks, plans were quickly drawn up to rebuild the World Trade Center. After a contest was held to redevelop the complex, a proposal from architect Daniel Libeskind was selected as the winner in 2002. At the centerpiece of Libeskind’s proposal was a new signature tower for the complex intended to soar to a symbolic 1,1776 feet into the air.
The building, originally dubbed the Freedom Tower, underwent a number of revisions along with the rest of the proposed new World Trade Center. A symbolic cornerstone was laid on July 4, 2004 even as the design was undergoing several revisions. After several years of redesigns, the final plan for the tower was revealed in June 2005, though financing and security issues held up the actual construction of the supertall skyscraper until the summer of 2006.
Concrete pouring for the new tower was completed in November 2007 and construction cranes were installed in January 2008, finally allowing full construction to commence in earnest. In 2009, the tower’s name was changed from the Freedom Tower to One World Trade Center in an effort to make it easier to identify for the public. By 2010, the tower began to rise steadily above the ground and stood at 82 floors by the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
One World Trade Center topped out in August 2012 while its symbolic spire was fully attached on May 10, 2013, capping the long and arduous construction process. There was, however, some controversy as to whether the spire counted towards the final height of the building, allowing it to claim the title of the tallest in both the United States and the Western Hemisphere. The debate was settled on November 12, 2013 when the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat officially declared that the spire was a part of the building’s permanent design, making it the tallest building in the country and hemisphere. One World Trade Center officially opened almost a year later on November 3, 2014, finally ending its long and complex but ultimately successful construction process.
Despite its construction history fraught with delays, cost overruns and various controversies, One World Trade Center stands tall as a new symbol of New York City. Shining like a beacon above the city, it stands as a testament to the tenacity and ultimate resiliency of both the city and the country after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.