Twin Towers
Widok na Manhattan w latach 90. Fot. JohnnyG, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons

The Twin Towers – from creation to destruction of a symbol of New York City

The Twin Towers were the main part of the World Trade Center complex, abbreviated WTC (World Trade Center) in the Lower Manhattan district of New York City. The official opening took place on 4 April 1973. For two years after completion, the twin towers were the tallest buildings in the world. They were destroyed on 11 September 2001 as a result of a series of terrorist attacks organised by al-Qa’ida

The twin towers, along with the entire WTC , were designed by Minoru Yamasaki, an American architect of Japanese origin. The north tower measured 417 metres to the roof (including the mast 527 metres) and the south tower 415 metres. Each was 110 storeys high. Floors 106 and 107 in WTC 1 housed the most profitable restaurant in the United States (Windows on the World), while floor 107 and the roof in WTC 2 were dedicated to observation decks (Top of the World). Both towers had 23 express lifts, 72 zone lifts and 3 service lifts, a total of 98 lifts

Manhattan in the 1990s Photo by Brandon McCombs, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The core cross-section of each tower was a 26 × 40 metre rectangle with an area of 1,040 square metres. Each core consisted of 47 interconnected columns tapering with each successive floor. The core contained all the lifts and staircases (A, B, C). One floor of the tower had 3600 m², including 2560 m² of floor space, and the entire tower had a total of 256,000 m² of floor space. The total floor area of the complex was 1,393,500 m², making it the largest ever built. The outer shell was made up of columns made of steel rectangular tubes. The very dense grid of columns spaced at 1.02 m intervals was thinned out on the lower floors, allowing for six-storey entrance halls. The gentle transitions of the upper storey columns to the lower support created a modernist façade with neo-Gothic fragments. It is estimated that the real cost of construction of the whole building was $900 million (approximately 3,375,090,000 zloty). The basement also housed the largest shopping mall in lower Manhattan. In 2000, the two towers housed the offices of more than 500 businesses employing thousands of people

Cross-section of the tower. Drawingː Yamasaki & Associates (1955 – 2009) Photograph by the Archives of Michigan, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The façade of one of the World Trade Center towers. Photo by Rainer Halama, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

on 11 September 2001, the world’s largest terrorist attack took place. It was carried out using four hijacked passenger planes. The aim of the attackers was to direct the planes at buildings that were symbols of the United States and its power and thereby cause massive loss of life and the total or partial destruction of the buildings. One of the hijacked aircraft hit the west wing of the Pentagon. In the case of the second plane, the attack failed due to the defensive behaviour of the passengers on board, resulting in the machine crashing in a field in Pennsylvania. Its target was thought to be the Capitol or the White House. The other two hijacked Boeing 767 passenger planes hit the Twin Towers at 8:46 and 9:03 local time. At 9:59 and 10:28 a.m., their collapse occurred. A total of 2,973 people (including six Poles) died in the attack, of which 1,636 bodies have been identified. In addition to towers 1 and 2, falling debris from the façade and core columns destroyed or severely damaged the other buildings in the complex, as well as all neighbouring buildings. The authorities decided not to rebuild the twin towers in their previous form. In their place, a new complex was designed and Daniel Libeskind was entrusted with its construction. In 2014, 1 World Trade Center, one of the four New York skyscrapers that form part of the new complex, was completed. At 541 metres high, it is the tallest building in the United States

1 World Trade Center. Photo by Khalid Mahmood, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Twin Towers

In the spring of 2002, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the agency coordinating the reconstruction of the WTC, announced an international competition to commemorate the site of the attack. In January 2003, the winner was selected: a design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker. The memorial and museum dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks were opened to the public on 11 September 2011. Two large swimming pools, dubbed the ‘mirror of absence’, were created where the Twin Towers stood. The overflowing emptiness of the site symbolises the loss of innocent lives and is also a tribute to them. Surrounding the pools are bronze plaques with the names of the victims of the attacks. Between the emptiness of the pools is the WTC Attack Memorial Museum. The whole is enclosed by a park that separates the museum and memorial from the hustle and bustle of the city


Read also: Architecture | Office building | Modernism | Skyscraper | City | New York | United States

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