One World Trade Center in New York City...former site of the Twin Towers takes shape as a sign of our Nation's Freedom
Still in a raw state, it’s already cause to celebrate. The nearly $4 billion, largest, most fought-over piece of the puzzle in downtown’s epic skyline restoration turns out to be a gentle giant, graceful and humane as the Twin Towers were not.
Architectural eggheads will sneer at it, but the masses will just as surely love it.
Include me in the common rabble.
What scant pleasure the old towers afforded lay in their tacky duplication. The thumbs-up tuning fork lent their banal bulk a semblance of wit; imagine how utterly awful one of them would have looked without the other.
The new One World Trade Center requires no identical sibling to draw stares or smiles. Although we won’t see it whole for another year, my heart lifts from every vantage point — from narrow Fulton Street, where it thunders skyward beyond the shabby old storefronts; from the Brooklyn Heights Esplanade, revealing its prideful place in the lower Manhattan panorama; and from beneath the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo, a perspective that invites the Frank Gehry-designed 8 Spruce St. into a surprise pas de deux.
One World Trade Center’s prominence in the downtown pantheon is more plainly perceived from the New Jersey shore. Stand on the Exchange Place pier and see how comfortably it fits amidst stubbier neighbors. The sight also teases and delights riders on the No. 7 and F trains, motorists on the Long Island and Brooklyn-Queens expressways and the New Jersey Turnpike, party animals on Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel terrace, and air travelers over Newark and the Verrazano Bridge.
We all had to come to terms with the hole in the skyline left by the 9/11 terrorist attack — even Tony Soprano emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel missed the twins. But during nearly 10 years when little above-ground progress was visible, we almost got used to it. Millions of New Yorkers disliked the boxy monoliths arrogantly imposed on the once eloquent lower Manhattan skyline. We yearned to replace them with something better, but until the day came, life would go on just fine without their oppressive mass and parallel shadows which on winter days seemed to stretch to Coney Island.
After years of false starts, the day has come. One World Trade Center’s steel topped off months ago at its full 1,368 feet. (Its vaunted 1,776-foot height includes the yet to be completed spire). The tower is pretty but not prissy; much loftier than the structures around it but respectful of them; and different enough to stand out in the crowd that is the lower Manhattan mash-up of old and new.