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posted by Ruairidh MacVeigh alias Rorymacve Part II on Monday 14th of March 2016 11:37:50 AM

Now this took a long, long, long time, having to get every individual piece of the World Trade Center and the surrounding city, together with people, cars, boats, even the tiniest pebble! But I feel it was worth the three-weeks of on/off effort! Among the most iconic buildings in all of history, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood for 28 years as symbols of many things, economic might, human innovation, American pride, and icons of New York. But their short period in existence was brought to an abrupt end on September 11th, 2001, where the two tallest buildings in the city of New York were left seething in peril, and reduced to smouldering rubble within two hours, on a day when evil truly showed its ugliest face, average citizens became heroes, and victims were made of us all. Considerations for a 'World Trade Center' went back to the end of World War II in 1945, where it was intended to create a single centre for the major shipping companies of New York and the divisional offices of large foreign shipping firms to concentrate their activity to one place. However, the rise of the aviation industry and the decline of the traditional shipping companies in the face of rationalisation following developments such as the Shipping Container over the previous Box n' Crate system made it so that there were barely enough of these firms left to justify such a project. The idea wouldn't resurface again until the early 1960's, where after a decade of production and progress in the American economy, the larger number of firms required greater office space in New York's financial district in Lower Manhattan. Enter director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Austin J. Tobin, and newly elected New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes, who, together, were responsible for the final location of the World Trade Center. Original plans from 1961 would have placed the World Trade Center on the former dockyards along the East River, what is today the historic South Street Dockyard. Tobin was convinced by Hughes to include the World Trade Center as part of a package deal to improve the services of the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad, an underground subway line that connected New Jersey to its terminus in Lower Manhattan. Built in 1909, the railroad was in a dire state of disrepair, and passenger numbers had dropped dramatically. Hughes felt that a major stimulus for the railroad's regrowth would be its direct connection to the new World Trade Center project, therefore solving two problems in one and being mutually beneficial to New York and New Jersey. Thus a 16 acre site of old low-rise buildings on the shores of the Hudson known as 'Radio Row' were chosen as the site of the new complex. Design of the World Trade Center was handed to American-born Japanese architect, Minoru Yamasaki, who envisaged the World Trade Center as not just a simple collection of buildings, but a work of art. Taking design cues from the Piazza san Marco in Venice, he saw the WTC buildings surrounding a large plaza within which would be sculptures, artistic pieces and fountains, crowned by 'The Sphere', a Bronze sculpture stood in the middle of a large fountain at the centre of the Plaza that would depict World Trade and Peace. The commission was given to German sculptor Fritz Koenig, who designed and built it in his workshop in Germany before having it shipped to the WTC in 1971, where, upon its plinth, it would do a full rotation every 24 hours. The pièce de résistance however would be the two 1,360ft tall, 110 storey Twin Towers that would stand at a staggered angle to one another along the site's western side closest to the Hudson and the elevated West Side Highway. Yamasaki's original plan called for the towers to be 80 stories tall, but to meet the Port Authority's requirement for 10,000,000 square feet of office space, the buildings would each have to be 110 stories tall. Yamasaki's design for the World Trade Center, unveiled to the public on January 18th, 1964, called for a square plan approximately 208ft in dimension on each side. The buildings were designed with narrow office windows 18in wide, which reflected Yamasaki's fear of heights as well as his desire to make building occupants feel secure. Yamasaki's design included building facades sheathed in aluminium-alloy. The result of this aluminium cladding was a translucent effect, with the two towers changing colours with the times of the day from a vibrant silver at midday, to a magnificent orange and pink in the evening or at sunrise. Another problem the WTC faced were elevators, as with the greater height of the building, more elevators were required to serve it, taking up more floor space. The result was an ingenious new method involving 'Sky-Lobbies', a concept first put into practice on the John Hancock Center in Chicago. The idea was similar to that of trains on the New York Subway, with limited-stop express elevators running the entire length of the towers, whilst local elevators served individual floors or alternate floors. Sky-Lobbies were located on the 44th and 78th floors, and their implementation enabled the elevators to be used efficiently, increasing the amount of usable space on each floor from 62 to 75 percent by reducing the number of elevator shafts. Altogether, the World Trade Center had 95 express and local elevators. The tower design consisted of a tube-frame, introduced by Fazlur Khan, and was a comparatively new one, done primarily to increase the amount of floor space when compared to the traditional design of evenly spaced steel columns in a stacked-box approach, as was implemented on the Empire State Building. The World Trade Center towers used high-strength, load-bearing perimeter steel columns called Vierendeel trusses that were spaced closely together to form a strong, rigid wall structure, supporting virtually all lateral loads such as wind loads, and sharing the gravity load with the core columns. The perimeter structure containing 59 columns per side was constructed with extensive use of prefabricated modular pieces, each consisting of three columns, three stories tall, connected by spandrel plates. The spandrel plates were welded to the columns to create the modular pieces off-site at fabrication shops, and were shipped to New York by train. The core of the towers housed the elevator and utility shafts, restrooms, three stairwells, and other support spaces. The core of each tower had a rectangular area 87 by 135ft and contained 47 steel columns running from the bedrock to the top of the tower. The large, column-free space between the perimeter and core was bridged by prefabricated floor trusses. The floors supported their own weight as well as live loads, providing lateral stability to the exterior walls and distributing wind loads among the exterior walls. The floors consisted of 4in thick lightweight concrete slabs laid on a fluted steel deck. This rule was repeated for every floor with the exception of the 107th floor, which were fitted with Hat trusses to support a tall communications antenna. Both towers could have been fitted with antennas, but it was only ever implemented on the North Tower. The truss system consisted of six trusses along the long axis of the core and four along the short axis. This truss system allowed some load redistribution between the perimeter and core columns and supported the transmission tower. Approval for the WTC was given in 1965, and properties on Radio Row were acquired by the Port Authority the same year. By 1966, Radio Row had been largely demolished and construction began on the World Trade Center towers. Before construction of the towers could begin though, the biggest issue that had to be confronted were the forces of nature, that being the Hudson only a few hundred feet away. Constructing the world's tallest buildings on a muddy marsh could have been likened to a silly man building his house upon the sand, it just couldn't work. As such, an innovative new concrete coffer dam was sunk along the West Side Highway and under the base of what would become the future Twin Towers in an oblong structure known as the Bathtub. Sunk to bedrock, the Bathtub held moisture in the surrounding soil and ground away from where the tower's foundations would be sunk, thus providing engineers with the equivalent of building a conventional skyscraper anywhere else into regular bedrock. With this problem sorted, construction began on the site. The North Tower rose first between 1967 and 1970, followed closely by the South Tower between 1968 and 1971. The North Tower was topped out on December 23rd, 1970, proclaiming it officially as the tallest building in the world, toppling the Empire State Building from the title after its 37 year reign. The North Tower rose to 1,368ft, whilst the South Tower rose to 1,362ft, and would retain the title until the Sears Tower was topped out in 1973 at a height of 1,450ft. In addition to the Twin Towers, a set of smaller buildings surrounding the plaza were also constructed between 1970 and 1974, these being WTC 4, 5 and 6. WTC 4 and WTC 5 were 9-storeys tall, with WTC 4 being home to the largest Trading Floor in New York, whilst WTC 6 was 8-storeys tall and housed the U.S. Customhouse. In addition to the WTC, the Hudson Railroad was given major modifications as well in the form of new trains and a refurbished 4-track station underneath the Plaza, accessible via WTC 5. The Hudson Railroad came under the ownership of the Port Authority, and was subsequently renamed the Port Authority Trans Hudson line, or PATH. Beneath the plaza too was an enormous shopping centre that stretched the entire complex and was, at the time, Manhattan's largest indoor shopping mall. The official opening ceremony of the towers took place on April 4th, 1973, although the structures had yet to be completely finished, with tenants taking up occupancy on the lower, completed floors during the first year before final completion of the towers in 1975. 1975 saw the opening of the Top of the World Observatory, an observation deck located on the roof of the South Tower, which, until recently, held the title as the world's highest outdoor observation deck. This was joined by the opening of the North Tower's restaurant on the 106th and 107th floor, the Windows on the World and the Greatest Bar on Earth, which for years was one of the most exclusive and popular restaurants in the United States. At first, the World Trade Center was not looked on favourably, with architectural criticism being made against the angular design of the Twin Towers and the 'Superblock' style of the WTC Plaza, with many of the original streets dating back as far as the mid-18th Century being truncated to make space for the site. The towers were also seen as huge 'White Elephants', primarily due to the stagnation of the economic market in the early 1970's which meant that barely any tenants initially moved into the site's 10,000,000 square feet of office space. However, one person who looked on the towers favourably was Philippe Petit, a French high-wire artist who saw the Twin Towers in a similar fashion to two poles, just without a wire strung between them. Seeing them originally in a promotional pamphlet before their construction in the 1960's, he devised a scheme to sneak into the unfinished towers and string a wire between them so he could perform the greatest high-wire act in history. On the night of August 6th, 1974, he and several friends snuck into the towers disguised as construction workers, and spent the night setting up the next morning's act. Using a Bow & Arrow, they fired a line across the 200ft void between the Twin Towers, and after hours of securing and preparation, Petit stepped out onto the wire at around 7am as New Yorkers began their commute to work. Over the course of the next 45 minutes, Petit stunned the city and indeed the world as he balanced on a wire only a couple of inches across, 1,360ft above the ground, sitting and lying down on it, gesturing to the waiting policemen on either tower, and even stopping for a cigarette break. Upon returning to the roof of one of the towers, he was promptly arrested and sentenced to performing for children in Central Park for trespassing, and given a lifetime pass to the observation deck atop the South Tower by the Port Authority. Petit's act has been seen as making these looming towers seem much more human, and the later popularity of these buildings was due largely in part to his incredible feat. Trouble struck however in 1975 when a fire caused by a faulty telephone switchboard ravaged the 11th floor of the North Tower for several hours, though no permanent damage was caused. But even before the Twin Towers had been finished they were quickly associated with fire, most prominently by the movie, and books it was based off, 'Towering Inferno', which depicted a hi-rise blaze in the fictional Glass Tower in San Francisco. In one of the books the movie was based off of, the Glass Inferno, the Glass Tower was situated adjacent to the World Trade Center, and a Breeches Buoy was suspended between the Glass Tower and the North Tower to rescue people from the disaster. All of these works were inspired by the construction of the World Trade Center, the first in a short spree of tall building construction, but with such a tragic and ironic end. Nevertheless, the Twin Towers did live a charmed life throughout the remainder of the 1970's and 80's, and quickly became New York icons, appearing in movies, adverts, TV Shows, Music Videos and other forms of media. King Kong climbed them in the 1976 adaption of the legendary story, Kurt Russell lands his glider atop the North Tower in the 1981 dystopian future thriller Escape from New York, they were atomised in 1996’s Independence Day, yet, oddly enough, were the only things left standing, as they were in 1998’s Deep Impact, when they were swamped by a giant tidal wave following the impact of an asteroid. They were turned to Swiss Cheese in that eternal cheesefest known as 1998’s Armageddon, crashed into by a giant chunk of rock in another cheesefest trying to pass itself off as a good movie, Meteor, and provided the climactic ending to yet another notable cheesefest, Mazes and Monsters, where Tom Hanks attempts to fling himself from the roof of the South Tower thinking he'd ascend to some questionable plot device known as the 'Great Hall', although I'd like to have seen him get past the suicide fence between the observation deck and the edge of the building! The WTC was also notable for many extreme events, including two climbs, the first in 1977 by George Willing, who scaled the South Tower, and the second by Dan Goodwin in 1983, who climbed the North Tower. In 1984, aspiring artist Joanna Gilman Hyde painted a 10,000 square foot painting known as the 'Self-Organizing Galaxy' on the roof of 5 World Trade Center, a piece that could only be seen and appreciated from the Twin Towers that loomed over it. The towers were also famous for Base Jumpers, who would manage to somehow sneak their way onto the roof of either building, usually the South Tower, and leap off with a parachute, huddling themselves into a waiting car in Battery Park before they could be arrested and hauled off by the NYPD for trespassing and reckless indulgence. In 1978, the North Tower was fitted with a 598ft Television Antenna, which quickly became a home for a majority of New York's TV and Radio stations with its unobstructed line of sight to pretty much everywhere in the surrounding Tri-State area. In 1981 and 1987, the WTC was joined by two other buildings. The first was World Trade Center 3, also known as the Vista Hotel, a 22-storey structure built between the Twin Towers and the West Side Highway. The first hotel to open in Lower Manhattan since 1897, the Vista was one of the most luxury hotels in the city, providing guests with a myriad of restaurants, a top-floor Gym with views of the Hudson, direct access to the World Trade Center and later World Financial Center, as well as its proximity to Wall Street and the banks of Lower Manhattan. WTC 3 was the last building of the original proposal to be built, but had been modified from its original 9-storey design to increase capacity. The final addition to the World Trade Center was WTC 7, a 47-storey structure built between 1984 and 1987 to the north of the complex above a ConEd Substation. The tower was largely home to Salomon Brothers, which resulted in the building being affectionately dubbed the Salomon Brothers building. However, disaster struck on February 26th, 1993, when a truck bomb planted by Islamic extremist, Ramsi Yousif, exploded in the underground parking lot beneath the North Tower. Yousif's intention was to destroy the supporting foundations of the tower so as to cause it to fall onto its twin. Thankfully this didn't occur, but 6 people were killed in the blast and over 1,000 injured, and it proved to the United States that it was now vulnerable to international terrorism. The Twin Towers were reopened in 20 days, but the Vista Hotel, later bought by Marriott, wouldn't reopen until 1994 after extensive renovation and a new front entrance. At the same time, evacuation and safety features in the towers were updated heavily. A major setback of the 1993 attack was the poorly implemented safety measures and evacuation procedures, with many unsure of where to go or what to do as they huddled into the tightly packed, smoke filled stairwells, some eventually being rescued by helicopter from the roof, whilst others had to endure hours in the dark of the powerless towers before they were led down by firefighters. In 1999, the Plaza of the World Trade Center was rebuilt and repaved after years of wear and tear, and to rectify a common complaint about the wind that would rush across the open space, making it undesirable to be stood right in the centre. The floor was, as mentioned, repaved, benches were added as well as a small garden around the central fountain, and much greater use was made of the Plaza, including market stalls, outdoor rock concerts, charity events and other community events that gave the WTC a greater human feel. Other plans included an upgrade to the PATH station that would be completed by 2003, and a renovation of the Observation Deck for the 2002 Summer Season. All this however was brought to an abrupt and tragic end on September 11th, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 hijacked by terrorists, was flown deliberately into the North Tower at 8:46am between the 93rd and 99th floors. 17 minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175, another Boeing 767, was flown into the South Tower between the 78th and 81st floors, with thousands trapped in both towers above the impact zones. Confusion reigned as the towers burned, with people inside not knowing what had happened a few floors above or below them as the rest of the world watched in horror. In the North Tower, all stairwells through the impact zone had been destroyed, and for the estimated 1,300 people above, every last one of them would die, either through effects of the smoke, fire, the eventual collapse of the tower, or a tragic final option, where an estimated 200 people jumped the half-mile drop to their deaths on the street below, their last few moments immortalised in videos and pictures. The desperation of their situation was relayed through the final phone calls and emails from those trapped above. In the South Tower, although PA systems stated that workers should not evacuate prior to the impact of Flight 175, many had left the building by the time it did, although an estimated 630 remained above the flames after the crash. Unlike the North Tower, one stairwell remained accessible, but only 18 people were able to escape past this point from above. Many sought passage to the roof of either tower hoping for rescue by helicopter, but the doors to the roof were locked. In any case, the NYPD Aviation Units circling the stricken towers would not have been able to rescue people, the sea of antennas on the North Tower roof inhibiting landing, whilst the South Tower's roof was engulfed in smoke from its Twin. At 9:59am, the unthinkable happened when after burning for 56 minutes, the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. Although many reasons for such a catastrophic failure have circulated, and with many conspiracy theorists declaring that the collapse was done by way of controlled demolition, the generally accepted reason is that a mixture of the damage sustained, together with heavy fire and extreme heat, resulted in the floor trusses separating from the core and perimeter walls, resulting in the weight of the floors above no longer being sustained and the tower falling into itself. The top 35 floors of the structure above the crash site toppled towards the East River before crashing downwards into the rest of the building, killing hundreds both inside and outside. The North Tower followed suit at 10:28am, sinking straight downwards into itself, killing hundreds more in the chaos that ensued. The results of both the crashes and the collapse of the towers was beyond estimation. 2,753 people died at the World Trade Center that day, together with 125 at the Pentagon in Washington, and 265 aboard the four planes hijacked, a total of 2,996. The remainder of the World Trade Center was destroyed or extensively damaged by the collapse of the Twin Towers. The Marriott WTC was split in half by the South Tower before its remains were crushed by the North Tower. WTC 4 was almost completely crushed, and WTC 6 had a hole burrowed into the basement. WTC 7 suffered heavy damage to its southern face, and after burning for hours it collapsed later that day at 5:20pm. The only WTC building to escape largely intact was WTC 5, furthest from the Twin Towers, with books in the Borders bookshop on the ground floor still sat on their shelves. The office floors above however were gutted by fire and damaged beyond repair. Only 18 people were dragged alive from the rubble of the Twin Towers, and after a majority of the bodies had been retrieved from the site, the remaining buildings were levelled in 2002. A victory though from September 11th is that of the 17,000 people working in the towers at the time of the attacks, the best part of 14,000 were evacuated before they collapsed, thanks to the incredibly bravery of the rescue workers from the FDNY, the Port Authority and the NYPD who valiantly laid down their lives to save others. In total, 343 Firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers including 23 members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD), five members of the New York State Office of Tax Enforcement (OTE), three officers of the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA), one Fire Marshall of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) who have sworn law enforcement powers (and was also among the 343 FDNY members killed), one member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and one member of the United States Secret Service (USSS), were killed, many of whom were in the North Tower, and didn't receive the evacuation order after the collapse of the South Tower due to radio problems. But it wasn't just members of the emergency services who became heroes, as ordinary people plunged into disaster brought forward their strength and courage to save as many as they could themselves. These included Frank de Martini, from his office on the 88th floor of the North Tower, worked his way up to the impact zone of Flight 11 to rescue people trapped on the floors immediately below. Eventually, he was able to save over 70 people before he tragically lost his life in the collapse of the tower, his last reported location being on the 78th floor helping someone escape an elevator. Another was Rick Rescorla, originally from Hayle in Cornwall and a hero of the Vietnam War, who, aside from predicting both attacks on the World Trade Center, was able to safely evacuate 2,700 employees from the South Tower, motivating them and maintaining their morale by singing old British songs such as 'Men of Harlech', before he too was killed in the collapse of the South Tower, he being last reported on the 10th floor climbing back up to rescue others. But their tales were just some of many instances where humble office workers became true heroes, putting caution aside to save those in desperate need. Even a pair of Guide Dogs became heroes, rescuing their blind owners by leading them down hundreds of flights of stairs to safety. There were also tales of survival that seemed to defy belief. George Sleigh, a British manager of technical consistency at the American Bureau of Shipping on the 91st floor of the North Tower, was only 25ft below where Flight 11 struck, and would be one of only a handful of people to climb down almost the entire height of the building and survive. Venessa Lawrence, a British artist, had quite literally stepped from an elevator on the 91st floor as Flight 11 struck, the car she had exited tumbling down into the dark void as explosions and fire ravaged the floors above. Stanley Praimnath is quite possibly the luckiest, his office on the 81st floor of the South Tower taking a direct hit by United Airlines Flight 175, the wing of which was lodged in his door on the other side of his office. He would eventually be rescued by Brian Clark from the 84th floor, and the pair would escape the South Tower with minutes to spare. Of course there was also the last survivor to be pulled free from the rubble of the World Trade Center, that being Genelle Guzman-McMillan, who was pinned under smouldering concrete and steel debris for 27 hours before being rescued, the last of 18 people. For years the World Trade Center sat in a state of limbo, an empty lot of concrete foundations with no clear goal in mind. An opinion poll in 2002 among New Yorkers came to a vote of 82% in favour of rebuilding the Twin Towers as they were. Instead, developers came to the conclusion that the new World Trade Center would consist of several towers, topped by what was formerly known as the Freedom Tower at 1,776ft. Even with the Twin Towers gone and with no sign of them ever returning, we can still look back upon them warmly, knowing that for 28 years they did grace the skyline of Manhattan and left imprints on the hearts of so many. Although most recognize their image with their destruction, and indeed one must never forget the tragedy that befell the Towers, the City and the World that day, myself and many others prefer to remember their lives before that dreadful day in 2001. I've never drawn a picture of the World Trade Center on fire or collapsing because, as my brother once exceptionally put it, it shows the towers in pain, suffering at the hands of evil people who see nothing but destruction in everything they do, people who can't make things, only break things, and it's up to us as the people who make things to make things right! Sorry for the lengthy description, but summing up the history of these mighty buildings sadly can't be done in one sentence!

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