A Tower of Hope
One World Trade Center becomes the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere
The tower’s 408-foot-tall spire weighs 800 tons and will serve as a broadcast antenna. (Allan Tannenbaum / Polaris / Newscom)
Last week, New York City’s One World Trade Center reached a record-setting height when construction workers placed the final piece of a steel spire on top of the building. One World Trade Center now stands at 1,776 feet tall, making it the tallest building in the country and in the Western Hemisphere.
“Today 1 World Trade Center is the tallest building in the US, & #NYC is stronger than ever,” tweeted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the spire was placed on May 10.
One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, is located at the northwest corner of the site of the original World Trade Center. That complex of buildings included two skyscrapers nicknamed the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Those attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.
Why did the builders make the new skyscraper 1,776 feet tall? Because on July 4, 1776, America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, which officially separated the 13 American colonies from Great Britain. When replacing the World Trade Center after the attacks, the new building’s creators wanted to reference America’s fight for freedom, when the country was born.
The 104-story Freedom Tower, set to open in 2014, will have more than 3 million square feet of office space. Floors 100 to 102 will house a state-of-the-art observation deck with sweeping views of New York City.
The 408-foot spire, which weighs nearly 800 tons, will serve as a broadcast antenna. It will provide public transmission services for television and radio broadcast channels. An LED-powered light at the top of the spire will be visible up to 50 miles away on a clear night, and a beacon light will alert airplanes and helicopters.
One World Trade Center is now the third-tallest building in the world. The two structures that surpass it are both in the Eastern Hemisphere. The tallest is the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The world’s second-tallest building is the Mecca Royal Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is 1,972 feet tall.
When its spire was placed, One World Trade Center surpassed the 1,451-foot Willis Tower in Chicago to become the tallest building in the U.S. and the western half of the world.
“Today is a proud moment for our city and state as we crown the top of One World Trade Center,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on May 10. “This milestone at the World Trade Center site symbolizes the . . . resilience of our state and our nation.”