I read a headline last week that said 1 World Trade Center was again the tallest building in Manhattan – and will be even taller when its actually done. At first that was a good feeling, feeling that WTC dominated all other buildings in Manhattan, as the Twin Towers once had. Upon thinking about the events that got us here my opinion is changing. I wrote a blog posting the other day about That Horrible Day in September which goes into details about that day; this posting is what happened from then until now. After the smashed and crumbled buildings were all cleared away (there were actually 7 WTC, the towers were the tallest) an empty pit sat in lower Manhattan. The Port Authority, which owns the land was going to decide what the new site would look like; a developer who leased the land thought he was going to decide what the new site would look like. The ‘families’ of the people who were killed on the site thought they also had a say. Proposals were mocked up, there was a contest, there were many many plans put out there that could be chosen. Every group had different priorities and different ideas. When the final decision was made for how the site would look it was decided there would no longer be a 1WTC but rather a Freedom Tower. Years went by, the plans changed more, the architect was fired. This sounds like an unreasonable way to handle the rebuilding of the site but if you really think about it, the nothing like this had ever happened in our country before. There was no precedent of what to do. The thought that 2 of the most iconic buildings in NYC would be brought down by terrorists was completely unthinkable before it actually happened. So why would anyone have a contingency plan?
The Twin Towers, as they were called by people who live in NYC, had a special relationship with Manhattan culture. I don’t think anyone liked the architecture or how the buildings really looked, but they were part of the City and they were part of us. When driving back to NYC seeing the towers was a sign you were almost home. When getting off the subway and slightly disoriented as to what direction you were going, the Towers were always a barometer of where you were and where you needed to go. The Towers were tall and ugly but they were part of New York, part of Manhattan, and part of me.
In retrospect I think the site should have been built back exactly as it was, down to every exact detail. We should have put the Towers back up to show America’s strength. The new buildings will be fine but they won’t be the Twin Towers; the City won’t be the same.