September 11, Nine Years Later
An update on the World Trade Center site in NYC
Kid Reporter Grace McManus on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City, with guide Steve Coleman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Grace McManus)
Some people see the site of the World Trade Center as a place of sadness. Others see it as a place for rebuilding and rebirth. When I visited on a hot day this summer, I saw it as both.
I was allowed inside the fence surrounding this massive construction project with permission from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The Port Authority manages the World Trade Center site.
It has been nine years since terrorists targeted the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, along with the Pentagon and White House in Washington, D.C. On September 11, 2001, terrorists managed to destroy the towers and damage the Pentagon. The plane believed to be aimed at the White House came down in a field in Pennsylvania.
Since then, workers have been busy at the site, first clearing it, then preparing it for a new skyscraper and a memorial to the 2,792 people killed there.
The first thing I noticed as I looked out over the giant construction pit was the noise. It was deafening. Drills, cement mixers, power tools, bulldozers, and the clanking of steel girders echoed throughout the area.
Because no one under 18 is allowed to walk through the site, I watched the activity from a high, safe vantage point with Port Authority spokesperson Steve Coleman. I saw half a dozen swooping cranes bearing the American flag in a show of patriotism. Everywhere I looked I could see busy workers—some balanced on high steel beams, while others toiled in the giant pit where a subway station and underground shopping mall once thrived.
"Right now we have about 2,000 workers here on the site," Coleman said.
Much of the work done so far is under street level and not easy to see. What you can see is the steel framework for 30 floors of a 105-floor skyscraper known both as One World Trade Center and the Freedom Tower. The building will ultimately be the tallest on the site at 1,776 feet, a height chosen to reflect the birth of our nation in 1776.
Three more buildings are under construction as well, known simply as Towers Two, Three, and Four. Tower Four will house the Port Authority, and Towers Two and Three will be built to street level and then halted until the real estate market improves. All of the towers are scheduled for completion in 2013.
None of the buildings will sit on the actual ground where the original Twin Towers stood. Instead, that sacred ground, called the footprints, will be occupied by two giant memorial pools. The pools will contain two man-made waterfalls—the largest ones in the U.S.
During my visit, workers were laying the granite tiles at the pools' edges, trying to finish in time for this year's 9/11 anniversary ceremonies. Eventually the site will include a memorial park and an underground memorial museum.
The "Survivors' Staircase"—the lone steps that miraculously survived the World Trade Center attacks—was saved and has been moved into the new, emerging museum.
"It is still intact, and it's being preserved," Coleman said.
I couldn't help but wonder if the new site would be safe. The World Trade Center was also attacked by terrorists in 1993, killing six people. Coleman said steel and concrete stronger than ever before are being used in the rebuilding.
"If anyone would like to do harm to these buildings, they're going to have a hard time doing it," he said. Additionally, he said, the Port Authority police and the New York Police Department are "taking a lot of precautions so we don't have any problems here once the buildings are up."
When I looked out at the World Trade Center construction site that day, I felt sadness, but that was not all. I could see and feel the pride and determination of crews working with steel and concrete to rebuild the spirit of a nation.
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