By: Lauren Saccone
Since September 11th, 2001, the Empire State Building has been the tallest structure in New York City. That title had previously been held by the World Trade Center Towers, until they were destroyed by the terrorist attack. For six years, the Empire State Building has been the highest point in New York City. Now it is surrendering that accolade, appropriately to the building constructed in memory of those lost on 9/11.
The Freedom Tower was originally proposed as a memorial to the events of September 11th, as well as a visual reminder that America would not be bullied by terrorism. It was seen as a project that would revitalize the stricken downtown area of New York City, and inspire all of those who saw it.
“This project is much more than steel and concrete,” explained David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority, to reporters. “It is a symbol of success for the nation.”
It hasn’t been easy for the Freedom Tower to reach this point. Built on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center Towers, the project has come under much scrutiny in the years since the idea was first proposed. Critics questioned the wisdom of building an even bigger tower, suggesting that it was perhaps taunting terrorists to strike again. Others questioned the decency of building on a site that had seen so much death. Still others pointed out the economic issues of the project - the current price tag stands at $3.8 billion, making it the most expensive office building in the world. And it’s still not completed.
But naysayers won’t deter supporters of the building. The tower, which is tentatively scheduled for completion late next year, will once again assert downtown New York City as an economic force.
“You’ve got to get people back to thinking of the Trade Center not as a site of an attack, but as a center of commerce,” a source associated with the construction site told the New York Post.
The Empire State Building, which was one of the first skyscrapers when it was built in 1931, sent a congratulatory note to the Freedom Tower on beating its record.
“The world’s most famous office building, the ancestor of all super-tall towers, welcomes our newer, taller cousin to the skyline,” a press release stated. “We’ve watched you grow, and now we salute you.”
While architects argue over which of the two buildings is actually taller (some debate that the antenna on the Empire State Building should count), the triumph may be short lived. According to a report done by the Wall Street Journal, by the time of its completion, five other buildings will have surpassed the Freedom Tower in terms of height.
But the height of the building isn’t really the point. The Freedom Tower, which is designed to reach 1,776 feet in honor of the birth of America, is a metaphor in building form. It is intended to show the strength of the country, the tenacity, and the resiliency no matter the odds. Whether the building succeeds in these lofty efforts is a debate that will not end in the immediate future.
[Pic via Flickr - Jules Antonio]