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The World Trade Center

Gabrielle Velasquez
Molloy College


September 11, 2001 was the deadliest day for many New Yorkers. On that day19
militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried
out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the
towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside
Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as
9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to
combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people were killed
during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police
officers and firefighters. Many people only took into consideration the buildings after they were
The rise of the World Trade Center began in 1946. The New York State Legislature
created the World Trade Corporation to develop the proposed World Trade Center in Downtown
Manhattan. The original proposal was for only one 70-story building, not the final twin towers
design. Winthrop Aldrich, chairman of Chase Bank, was appointed to explore the feasibility of
the project. The New York State Legislature passed a bill authorizing Thomas E. Dewey to begin
developing plans for the project. Several New Yorkers planned to make downtown Manhattan
the home of world commerce. To help stimulate urban renewal in Lower Manhattan, David
Rockefeller suggested that the Port Authority build a World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
The World Trade Corporation nominated one of the nation's premier architectural partnerships,
Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) to develop a plan for a "new Lower Manhattan". SOM
proposed a complete rebuilding and expansion of the financial district: the narrow streets would
be closed while others would be widened, traffic would be redistributed and over 100 blocks
razed. Various features of the SOM plan were implemented such as a Civic Center east of City

Hall and a large marina on the East River that prefaced the South Street Seaport. SOM also
suggested a World Trade Center. In 1958, Chase Manhattan Bank vice chair David Rockefeller
announced plans to build a multi-million-square-foot complex on Lower Manhattan's east side.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed to oversee the building project. (Nobel,
The Port Authority chose the current site for the World Trade Center bounded by West,
Church, Liberty, and Vesey Streets. Minoru Yamasaki was selected to design the project.
Yamasaki was a second generation Japanese-American who studied architecture at the
University of Washington and New York University. Yamasaki's designs often paid tribute to
classical themes but his use of modern technology resulted in contemporary structures of glass
and concrete. Yamasaki considered hundreds of different building configurations before deciding
on the twin towers design and worked closely with the selected structural engineers of the
project, Worthington, Skilling Helle and Jackson. Worthington, Skilling Helle and Jackson
developed a tube-frame structural system which allowed for open floor plans without columns in
the office spaces. Less than two years and more than 100 design concepts later, the Port
Authority unveiled the $525 million World Trade Center plan to the public. It was a composite
of six buildings comprised of 10 million square feet of office space. At its core were the Twin
Towers, which at 110 stories (1,368 and 1,362 feet) each would be the world's tallest
skyscrapers. Public sentiment ranged from astonishment at the sheer size of the towers, to both
thrill and dismay at their monolithic, contemporary design. (Yamasaki 1979) Yamasaki's design
for the World Trade Center was unveiled to the public. The design consisted of a square plan
approximately 207 feet in dimension on each side. The buildings were designed with narrow
office windows 18 inches wide, due to Yamasaki's fear of heights and his desire to make

building tenants feel secure. The construction of the north tower began in 1968 and the south
tower in 1969. In 1970, the first tenants moved into the north tower, although it was not
completed until 1972. Some of the major tenants included, Marsh USA INC, Bank of America,
Fitzgerald Securities, and Brown & Wood LLP. In 1972, other major tenants moved into the
south tower including Morgan Stanley, New York Stock Exchange, Fiduciary Trust Company
International, and Dow Jones and Company. The twin towers exhibited as the tallest buildings in
the world; at 1,368 and 1,362 feet and 110 stories each; exceeding the height of the Empire State
Building. It took seven years of construction, preceded by more than a decades worth of
planning that converted 16 acres of Lower Manhattan into an international business core.
( The Twin Towers had become symbols of the citys economic might and its role
as the center for global capitalism. (ENY, 2014, p.48)
In 1993 a van jam-packed with 1,500 pounds of explosives was lodged by a group of
terrorists in an underground parking garage of the north tower. Their aim was to knock the north
tower into the south tower, bringing both towers down and killing thousands of people. The
attack killed six people, including a pregnant woman, injured more than 1,000 people and
created a five-story hole beneath the towers, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of
damage. (Pyszczynski, 2003) Some Americans responded to the September 11 terrorist attacks
with fear, anger, as well as a growing intolerance for immigrants, especially against people who
wereor appeared to befrom the Middle East. In the days immediately following the attacks,
while the government launched a war on terror and searched for suspects internationally, many
Muslims and Asians in the U.S. reported that they were the victims of harassment and hate
crimes. Sikhs, who follow Indian religions, were targeted because they wear turbans, which are
stereotypically associated with Muslims. Balbir Singh Sodhi was fatally shot on September 15,

2001, in Mesa, Arizona. Like other Sikhs, Sodhi was mistaken for a Muslim. According to the
FBI report, hate crime incidents targeting people and institutions that identified with the Islamic
faith increased from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001. Mosques were attacked as well as other religious
buildings, including a Hindu temple in St. Louis, Mo., which was hit twice with firebombs in
early 2003. (Pyszczynski, 2003)
The World Trade Center was later destroyed. On September 11, 2011, Americans awoke
to the nightmare of a well-coordinated, suicidal terrorist attack conducted by al Qaeda,
orchestrated by their leader Osama bin Laden. President George W. Bush, who had spent the day
being shuttled around the country because of security concerns, returned to the White House. At
9 p.m., he delivered a televised address from the Oval Office, declaring, Terrorist attacks can
shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.
These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. In a reference to the
eventual U.S. military response he declared, We will make no distinction between the terrorists
who committed these acts and those who harbor them. (Wright, 2006) As a result to the 9/11
attacks, it has been in the works of building a memorial for the victims lost on that tragic day.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was created in the aftermath of September 11th
by then-Governor George Pataki and then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani to plan the reconstruction of
Lower Manhattan and distribute nearly $10 billion in federal funds aimed toward rebuilding and
revitalizing downtown Manhattan. The new World Trade Center (WTC) is a vision of downtown
New York that combines modern, safe and sustainable commercial space, convenient
transportation, and a destination cultural center. The new World Trade Center will include 5 new
skyscrapers, The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, The World Trade Center
Transportation Hub, 550,000 square feet of retail space and a Performing Arts Center. This

vision represents an unprecedented merging of architects, artists, and urban developers, including
Santiago Calatrava, David Childs, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Fumihiko
Maki, and Richard Rogers. The singular goal is a grand new urban center for 21st century New


Hershberg, Eric, and Kevin W. Moore. Critical Views of September 11: Analyses from around
the World. New York: New, 2002. Print.
"News." || World Trade Center || Web.
Pyszczynski, Thomas A., Jeff Greenberg, and Sheldon Solomon. In the Wake of 9/11: The
Psychology of Terror. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2003.
Russo, M., & Meritta, C. (2014). Where it all Began: Lower Manhattan., Essential New York
(pp. 40-50). Ars Omnia Press.
Yamasaki, Minoru. A Life in Architecture. New York: Weatherhill, 1979. Print.