World Trade Center site

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The site before it was cleared.

The World Trade Center site, also known as Ground Zero or The Pile, is the large plot of land on which the World Trade Center complex of New York City stood until the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. The land is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

A permanent memorial will be part of the site. However, it could take many years.


Reconstruction plans

Six land-use plans, created under Port Authority guidelines, were released in July 2002 to great public scorn. The guidelines demanded that all commercial space destroyed had to be replaced even while streets were opened through the site, greatly limiting the possible designs. However one of the most popular options, rebuilding the Twin Towers, was ignored by authorities,partly at the insistence of WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein. He is not comfortable with new office buildings taller than 70 floors and dreads the short-to-medium term vacancy risk of rebuilding the giant Twin Towers. His chief architect, David Childs of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, publicly denounced the original Twin Towers and the superblock as out of place and lacking in street activity or aesthetics. The July 2002 designs met with near-universal disapproval, forcing the government to restart the design process nearly from scratch but with the same guidelines.

A popular element from the designs was an open parkway connecting the site to Battery Park, with line of sight to The Statue of Liberty.

Seven new designs were presented and winnowed to two candidates, one from Studio Daniel Libeskind, and one from the THINK architectural group, led by Rafael Viñoly, Shigeru Ban, Frederic Schwartz, and Ken Smith.

While Libeskind's proposal (which largely repeated the July 2002 "Memorial Plaza" plan with more unusually-shaped buildings) was not accepted by the public, Michael Bloomberg and George Pataki preferred both the design and Libeskind's approach to dealing with the necessities of the project to the Think group. The Think proposal was championed by The New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp. A public poll sponsored by the official planners saw the choice of "Neither" win comfortably over the THINK plan, with the Libeskind plan last.

On February 26, 2003, Studio Daniel Libeskind's design was announced as the winning design. The design includes office buildings and a Wedge of Light which he claimed would honor the victims of the terrorist attacks by allowing sunlight into the footprint of the towers between 8:46AM and 10:28AM EST every September 11....shadow analysis has cast great doubt on this. Also the footprint of the towers will be largely preserved amid a huge sunken pit. Planning review continues, with many citizen groups of many angles strongly opposed to proceeding with this plan for various reasons.

Missing image
The World Trade Center after the attack.

The Libeskind proposal includes a 541 m - 1776-foot high tower. The chosen height in feet is a reference to 1776, the year that the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. In July, Larry Silverstein, whose real estate company was given the lease to the WTC two months before the September 11 attacks, convinced Libeskind to hire David Childs of Skidmore Owings & Merrill as a co-architect of the proposed 1,776-foot tower, which Governor Pataki calls the 'Freedom Tower'. A draft design for the tower released December 19, 2003 has already encountered stiff criticism and as of January 2005 it was still unclear that building the spire according to the Libeskind design was even possible [1] ( May 2005 a thorough redesign of the tower was ordered after safety concerns raised by the police department.

Donald Trump raised eyebrows in May 2005 when he endorsed rebuilding the site with the Twin Towers 2 alternative rebuilding plan, and in June 2005 was one of the first to sign its petition to encourage Pataki, Bloomberg, Silverstein, and the Port Authority to re-think the unpopular Freedom Tower design and consider rebuilding the towers.

Legal disputes

Cost estimates for rebuilding the WTC site range from $10 to $12 billion. This was a major motivation behind Larry Silverstein's ongoing insurance trial. During the court proceedings, he insisted that the collapse of the Twin Towers were two separate attacks, thus entitling him to $6.8 billion, double the payment he made when he bought insurance for the complex in July 2001. His insurers disagreed, saying that the attacks were a single event, entitling Silverstein to half that amount. Silverstein was defeated in a court trial where the jury found most of the insurers limited to a single payout. With this verdict, which was read in May 2004, Silverstein lost $2.4 billion in insurance money. The dispute over $1.1 billion held by the remaining insurance companies was resolved by a jury in December 2004, when it was decided that the 11 September 2001 attacks constituted two separate attacks.

Currently, the World Trade Center site is accessible by subway and PATH trains at the new—and temporary—World Trade Center station. (Much to some survivors and victims' families' chagrin, the PATH right of way runs over the footprint of one of the Twin Towers. It is unlikely this will change when the "permanent" PATH World Trade Center station will be completed.)

Local sentiments

A word to visitors: most locals do not use the terms pile or Ground Zero, and do prefer to refer to the area by its proper name -- The World Trade Center or the WTC. Many New Yorkers also take offense to these nicknames given the site and more so to the souvenirs sold to tourists. According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the site remains the World Trade Center and will retain that name permanently.

However, the stagnated progress of the site's rebuild has let many observers down, as described by Frank Rich of the New York Times:

And so ground zero remains a pit, a hole, a void. As The New York Post has noticed, more time has passed since George Pataki first unveiled the "final design" of the Freedom Tower than it took to build the Empire State Building. ...
But there is another, national narrative here, too. ... [T]hat stagnation may accurately reflect most of America's view about the war on terror that began with the slaughter of more than 2,700 at the World Trade Center almost four years ago. Though the vacant site is a poor memorial for those who died there, it's an all too apt symbol for a war on which the country is turning its back.[2] (

External links and references

Template:Geolinks-US-photo (on the terraserver image the towers are intact)


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