World Trade Center is the name of many building projects around the world. However, this writeup will refer to two specific buildings in the New York City World Trade Center complex.
One World Trade Center, also known as Tower One, refers to the North Tower, while Two World Trade Center, Tower Two, refers to the South Tower.
Minoru Yamasaki and Emery Roth designed the two towers as well as the rest of the World Trade Center complex. The World Trade Center towers represent Yamasaki's gothic modernist style and the architectural ethic of Le Corbusier.
The towers are a prime example of tube buildings. Similar to the IBM building in Seattle, the towers were designed with outer steel beams and columns that created a steel tube. This design alleviated problems of wind sway and vibration. Each of the towers had 240 Vierendeel trusses on the outside of the structure connected to each other via normal steel trusses. Dampers were added to absorb shock. As a result, there is no need for internal load-bearing walls.
The $400 million towers broke ground on August 5, 1966. The World Trade Center commercial complex spans sixteen square blocks. When construction began, a 1.2 million cubic yard "bathtub", a 70 feet deep hole in solid bedrock was created. Add 200,000 tons of steel, 425,000 cubic yards of concrete and 3,500 workers. Mix well for 9 years. The North Tower was completed in 1972 and the South Tower was completed a year later.
The idea of building a World Trade Center was conceived by real estate broker David Sholtz. Being a former Florida Governor, Sholtz had close contact with New York State Governor Thomas E. Dewey. After much discussion, Sholtz convinced Dewey to present the idea to the Port Authority in 1947. Two years of bureaucratic red tape later and the idea was rejected by the City Board of Estimate.
In 1956 David Rockefeller had already began construction on One Chase Manhattan Plaza, funded by his Chase Bank and his family fortune. He soon realized that in order for this new building to thrive, he needed to revitalize the downtown financial district. To accomplish this grandiose goal, Rockefeller created a Business Improvement District named the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association (DLMA). The DLMA designed a plan of "slum clearence" to strip the small businesses in the area and replace them with institutions of high finance. Such a project required so much financing that not even the power players involved could bankroll the entire project. Consequently, the DLMA sought help from the Port of New York Authority. The director of the Port Authority, Austin Tobin and Governor Dewey saw this as a revival of their earlier plans and gave enthusiastic support to the project.
An election in 1958, shifted the Governorship to David Rockefeller's brother Nelson Rockefeller. Not surprisingly, Nelson Rockefeller pushed the project with his political clout. Soon, an architectural model was created. The plan met with several critics. New Jersey State Governor Robert Baumle Meyner saw little benefit for his state despite the fact that the Port Authority was a joint venture between the two states. As a concession, the Port Authority revitalized the Hudson Tubes (PATH) and agreed to build major container shipping ports in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The Fulton Street Association was able to have the project scaled down slightly and shifted west. However, the proprietors of Radio Row were not able to save their district. By 1961, the plans were agreed upon and construction of the district began.
Over the years, many notable events have occurred that indoctrinated the World Trade Center into the hearts and minds of all Americans, especially New Yorkers. A skydiver and a parachutist landed on the roof in 1972. Later in the 1970s, aerialist Philippe Petite crossed between the towers on a tightrope. In 1977, a toy maker and amateur rock climber named George "the Human Fly" Willig climbed Tower One. On February 26, 1993, a truck bomb in the garage under the towers failed to topple the buildings. Tragically, a set of jetliners brought both buildings down on September 11, 2001.
Over the years, the World Trade Center has found an importance place in American society. Its image defined the New York City skyline. For Americans, the towers stood for the triumph of American capitalism. For much of the rest of the world, feeling overcome by the effects of globalization, the towers stood as a symbol of American domination and exploitation.
Initially, the World Trade Center towers were envisioned by some to house small importer-exporters and freight forwarders. Eventually, rising rent prices saw the displacement of these initial tenants and their replacement with high finance firms operating in the nearby stock exchanges. It is not hard to see how these twin towers could symbolize wealth. In fact, before the 1993 attack, a great portion of the world's gold was stored under the towers. To Americans, the towers symbolize the wealth we have. To many foreigners, the towers symbolize the wealth we took from them.
The history of the World Trade Center is scarred by two terrorist attacks.
The first of these attacks occurred on February 26, 1993. In a plot masterminded by Ramzi Yousef, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine other Islamic extremists, a truck bomb in the garage killed 6 people, injured more than 1000 people, and caused over $300 million in property damage. Michael Chajes, chairman of the civil and environmental engineering department at the University of Delaware, reasoned that the scale and design of the 1993 attack would not have caused the total destruction of the towers. Chajes states that "The building was built on bedrock, and it is difficult to blow that up. Forces can go in so many different directions that it would be difficult to get enough force into that foundation."
Another terrorist attack occurred on September 11, 2001, resulting in the destruction of the towers. This has been treated in depth in many other wonderful nodes. There is no need for redundancy.
Ada Louise Huxtable, Architecture Critic of the New York Times
While she originally liked the towers, Huxtable changed her mind, calling them "the biggest, daintiest buildings in the world. There was no substance."
Roger Kahn, Sportswriter
Kahn wrote of his experience atop the towers during construction: "Wind was slamming across the Hudson, blowing bits of debris from unfinished floors. Four thousand men had been working for two years, and the sprawling site had acquired the scarred desolation that comes with construction or with aerial bombardment."
Minoru Yamasaki, Chief Architect
At the World Trade Center's dedication ceremony, Minoru Yamasaki commented on his vision of the World Trade Center: "I feel this way about it. World trade means world peace and consequently the World Trade Center buildings in New York ... have a bigger purpose than just to provide room for tenants. The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man's dedication to world peace. ... beyond the compelling need to make this a monument to world peace, the World Trade Center should, because of its importance, become a representation of man's belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and through cooperation, his ability to find greatness."
Leslie Robertson, Chief Structural Engineer
Robertson directed the structural design of the World Trade Center. He worked at the World Trade Center for almost 40 years as a structural engineer. After September 11th, he remarks "Such a thing is beyond imagination. If the buildings had fallen immediately, the casualties would have been extremely high. We're thankful they held up as long as they did. ... And considering what the Twin Towers had to withstand, The World Trade Center has performed admirably, and everyone involved in the project should be proud."
Bernard Tschumi, Architecture Dean at Columbia University
Tschumi, at the "World Trade Center Forum," noted that "it's about us being not only New Yorkers but as citizens of cities of the world," and that "when the attack took place, many of us took it as an attack upon the city."
I was afraid. When I was little and I visited the towers, I was afraid of the height.
I am confused. When I see the towers no longer exist, I am confused as to the purpose of mankind.
I see great things in the future. When I look to the future, I see a new monument symbolizing the resilience of the American people.
Please let me know if there are any mistakes. All criticism cheerfully accepted.