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9.11.2006 - 22 comments 

It has been several years since I took this photo and obviously it was prior to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001. I took it from one of the Liberty Ferrys that leave Battery Park and go out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I so wish that the skyline of Lower Manhattan still looked like this, but more importantly than the skyline, were the 2996 lives that were lost on that day as a direct result of this attack against our country and our way of life.

This photo and the darkness of the Statue of Libery looming over the Manhattan Skyline seems like a precursor to things to come. It also shows that "LIBERTY" still stands. As for the Twin Towers and the terrible suffering those cowardly terrorists brought to our country was just EVIL! The buildings can be rebuilt, but the lives that were lost and the damage to their families can never be repaired. Let us "NEVER FORGET" this DAY of 21st Century infamy.

The concept of a World Trade Center complex originated with Nelson and David Rockefeller in the 1950s as an attempt to revitalize lower Manhattan. The initial proposed site on the East River was later moved to the lower west side. The complex towers were designed by Japanese American architect Minoru Yamasaki with Antonio Brittiochi in one of the most striking American implementations of the architectural ethic of Le Corbusier, as well as the seminal expression of Yamasaki's gothic modernist tendencies.

In 1966, construction of the World Trade Center began with a groundbreaking that razed 13 square blocks of low-rise buildings, some of which predated the US Civil War. The construction was under the auspices of the semi-autonomous Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In 1970, construction was completed on One World Trade Center, with its first tenants moving into the building in December 1970. Tenants first moved into Two World Trade Center in January 1972. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was on April 4, 1973. Ultimately the complex came to consist of seven buildings, but its most notable features were the main twin towers. On any given day, some 50,000 people worked in the towers with another 200,000 passing through as visitors. The complex was so large that it had its own ZIP Code: 10048.

Although the towers became an undeniable icon of New York City, they were not without their flaws and were troubled in many ways. Initially conceived, (as the name suggests) as a complex dedicated to companies and organizations directly involved in "world trade," they at first failed to attract the anticipated clientele; during the WTC's early years various governmental organizations became key tenants. It was not until the 1980s that the city's perilous financial state eased, after which an increasing number of private companies — mostly financial firms tied to Wall Street — became tenants.

Moreover, the trade center's "super block", which replaced a more traditional, dense neighborhood, was regarded by some critics as an inhospitable environment that disrupted the intricate flows of traffic typical of Manhattan. For example, in his book The Pentagon of Power, the technical historian Lewis Mumford denounced the center as an "example of the purposeless giantism and technological exhibitionism that are now eviscerating the living tissue of every great city." Also, at the center of the complex, the immense Austin J. Tobin Plaza (named after the former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who oversaw the WTC's construction) was perpetually unpopular among New Yorkers.

However, the towers offered spectacular views from the observation deck (located on top of the South Tower) and the Windows on the World restaurant (located on top of the North Tower). The trade center had its many admirers, particularly out-of-towners. For those who deemed it cold and sterile, there were just as many who appreciated its sheer immensity; some even took advantage of it. French high wire artist Philippe Petit walked between the towers on a tightrope in 1974, and Brooklyn toymaker George Willig scaled the south tower in 1977. Memorable moments such as these lent the World Trade Center a sense of humanity in ways that became immortalized in New York City legend.

Each of the WTC towers had 110 stories. 1 WTC (the North Tower, which featured a massive 360 foot high TV antenna added in 1978) stood 1,368 feet (417 m) high, and 2 WTC (the South Tower, which contained the observation deck) was 1,362 feet (415 m) high. The length and breadth of the towers were 208 feet (63.4 m) x 208 feet (63.4 m). Although only Tower 1 featured an antenna, the structure of both buildings was designed to carry a broadcast mast.
When completed in 1972, 1 WTC became the tallest building on Earth, unseating the Empire State Building after a 40-year reign. 2 WTC became the second tallest building in the world when completed in 1973. The difference in height between the two towers was because of a Port Authority request to have two floors, the 43rd and the 67th, in 1 WTC raised, the lower of the taller floors being a cafeteria for PANY workers. 2 WTC did not need these facilities, so it remained 1,362 feet. Regardless, the WTC towers held the height record only briefly. As the building neared completion in 1973, work had already begun on Chicago's Sears Tower, which ultimately reached 1,450 feet (442 m).

With the World Trade Center's destruction, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York, after spending almost 30 years as the third tallest in the city. The towers' sheer size was the subject of a joke during a press conference unveiling the landmarks. Minoru 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." Another joke was that the towers looked like the boxes that the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building came out of. Writer Paul Fussell declared them to be reminiscent of Third Reich architecture for being "brutal and despotic," and being "dull and witless, expressive only of dumb raw power."

What the twin towers may have lacked in architectural aestheticism, they made up for with engineering innovation. To solve the problem of wind sway or vibration in the construction of the towers, chief engineer Leslie Robertson took a then unusual approach — instead of bracing the buildings corner-to-corner or using internal walls, the towers were essentially hollow steel tubes surrounding a strong central core. The 208 feet (63.4 m) wide facade was, in effect, a prefabricated steel lattice, with columns on 39-inch (100 cm) centers acting as wind bracing to resist all overturning forces; the central core took the majority of the gravity loads of the building. A very light, economical structure was built by keeping the wind bracing in the most efficient area, the outside surface of the building, thus not transferring the forces through the floor membrane to the core, as in most curtain-wall structures. The core supported the weight of the entire building and the outer shell containing 240 vertical steel columns called Vierendeel trusses around the outside of the building, which were bound to each other using ordinary steel trusses. In addition, 10,000 dampers were included in the structure. With a strong shell and core such as this, the exterior walls could be simply light steel and concrete. With the massive core and lightweight shell for structural integrity, Robertson created a tower that was extremely light for its size. This method of construction also meant that the twin towers had the world's highest load-bearing walls.

The excavation of the foundations of the WTC complex, known as the Bathtub, located on the former Radio Row, was particularly complicated since there was two subway tubes close by needing protection without service interruption. A six-level basement was built in the foundations. The excavation of about 1 million cubic yards (760,000 m³) of earth and rock created a $90 million real estate asset for the project owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which helped offset the enormous loss in revenues which came from the tax breaks given to the Trade Center itself. The soil was used to create 23 acres (93,000 m²) of landfill in the Hudson River next to the World Trade Center site, which became the site of Battery Park City (still under development).

One of the world's largest gold depositories was stored underneath the World Trade Center, owned by a group of commercial banks. The 1993 bomb detonated close to the vault, but it withstood the explosion, as did the towers. Seven weeks after the September 11th attacks, $230 million in precious metals were removed from basement vaults of 4 WTC, which included 3,800 100-Troy-ounce registered gold bars and 30,000 1,000-ounce silver bars.

We not only lost the twin Towers on this day five years ago, but we also lost the innocence that let us all believe that the United States could never be attacked on our own continental U.S. soil. On that day we saw the FACE OF EVIL! People dedicated to destroying our "way of life" and the freedoms by which we live our lives. LET US NEVER FORGET!

"Courage is the first virtue, without it, none of the others matters." ~ Winston Churchill Posted by Picasa