Finally, World Trade Center rises from ground zero

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Developer Larry Silverstein of Silverstein Properties looks out from his office tower, 7 World Trade Center, at the ongoing construction of the World Trade Center site in New York on July 19, 2011.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks destroyed the World Trade Center, an 80-story glass and steel tower is rising like a phoenix from the ashes of ground zero.

The site called a “hole in the ground” for years has cranes in the air, trains running underground and hundreds of trees planted around giant, man-made waterfalls to remember the dead of Sept. 11.

And the surrounding neighborhood — no longer just a financial district — is bursting with young families, new schools, a Whole Foods and a Barnes & Noble.

“I’m kind of proud because I was here two weeks after 9/11 and this was a dust pit,” said Larry Brancato, 59, of Wallingford, Conn., walking by ground zero. “It just shows that Americans have always had a can-do attitude.”

After years of inertia, and prolonged disputes between government agencies, insurer and a developer who had just taken out a 99-year lease on the towers when they were toppled, the development of the trade center is substantial, and the tallest tower can now be seen for miles.

“People can begin to see that this is no longer a hole in the middle of New York, but a real place is emerging,” said architect Daniel Libeskind, whose master plan serves as a blueprint for the site.

A memorial featuring waterfalls cascading into the footprints of the twin towers will open to the public on Sept. 12, a day after families see their loved ones’ names around the pools for the first time. The skyscraper formerly known as the Freedom Tower is growing by a story a week and now stands 1,000 feet above the skyline as the tallest building in lower Manhattan.

Larry Silverstein, the developer who signed a lease on the twin towers on July 24, 2001, pushed to rebuild the 10 million square feet of office space he had lost. Civic groups pushed for a more neighborhood-friendly design than two monoliths on a concrete plaza.

Libeskind, who won a competition to become the site’s master planner, focused on the Freedom Tower, with an asymmetrical spire soared to the symbolic height of 1,776 feet and echoed the Statue of Liberty across the harbor. Tensions were inevitable between Libeskind’s artistic vision and Silverstein’s desire for buildings that would draw tenants.

1 World Trade hardly resembles Libeskind’s early drawings, but he called it “an impressive building.”

Designed by David Childs, its tapering form is symmetrical but retains the spire and the 1,776 feet.

Printed on Friday, September 2, 2011 as: A new World Trade Center tower rises.