With just one week to go before we observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the world has begun to focus on Ground Zero in New York City and look to that hallowed ground for physical signs of progress and rebirth.
In New York, a major ongoing focus is on plans for the new “One World Trade Center” in downtown Manhattan. The single skyscraper will replace the iconic Twin Towers, destroyed on September 11, 2001 marking the first ever attack on US soil.
Since 2001, rebuilding efforts have been halted by related safety issues and the painful concerns of survivor families over the World Trade Center Memorial. Although the new tower was expected to be completed by 2009, negotiations among economic and real estate interests, along with 19 different state agencies, have slowed progress significantly.
While some argue that rebuilding the World Trade Center has taken too long — far longer than it took to build the original twin towers — it is undeniable that what has emerged is the result of a labor of love from thousands who have worked tirelessly for a decade to move on from that horrific day that changed our nation.
The skyscraper, also known as “Freedom Tower,” is growing by one storey a week and is already the tallest building in lower Manhattan. It’s expected that the building will be completed by January 2013 and it will stand at 1776 feet, a figure symbolic of the year the United States’s declared its independence.
Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who administer the site, said the new tower is more impressive every day. “Already it is the tallest building in New York and it’s on its way to being the tallest building in the western hemisphere. From the very top you’ll be able to see the curvature of the earth,” said Baroni.
Head engineer of the project, Lynda Tollner, who is the head of the World Trade Center Construction Department, and lived and worked at RTKL in Baltimore for seven years, and says the construction of the tower is currently the largest construction site in America. Hundreds of construction workers have been working on the tower and are united in the effort to build something that has become more than just a job but a tower that will become a symbol for millions of Americans.
One of the more notable controversies surrounding the new building project arose over the renaming in of the central structure from the original “Freedom Tower” in 2008, to the now more practical One World Trade Center. Commercial reasons were the primary motivation for the name change, say critics, as developers attempted to calm nerves and ensure future rentals by simply renaming the skyscraper One World Trade Center.
The National 9/11 Memorial will be dedicated on September 11, 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in a ceremony for victims’ families. The following day, it will open to the public on September 12, 2011 for visitors who have reserved advance passes.
The memorial features the country’s largest man-made waterfalls dramatically cascading into two sunken pools. These pools mark the footprints of the Twin Towers. Perhaps more poignantly, the names of 2,980 victims have been etched in granite around the edges of the memorial. The effect seeks to create closure for families of the nearly 40 percent of victims whose bodies were completely obliterated during the attacks.
Along with honoring victims in the first attack on US shores, the recent killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 by US forces in Pakistan will also probably become at least a subtext for many more observances being planned both in New York, nationwide, and around the world as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 draws near.