News

A Rising Tower

As it reaches 100 floors, One World Trade Center is about to become New York City’s tallest building

April 30, 2012
SPENCER PLATT—GETTY IMAGES

The unfinished One World Trade Center towers over lower Manhattan, in New York City, in this photo from January 30, 2012.

Over the past few years, One World Trade Center (WTC) has risen to tower over other buildings in lower Manhattan, in New York City. On Monday, the unfinished building will become the tallest skyscraper in Manhattan. Construction workers are adding steel columns to the building’s 100th floor, bringing the building’s current height to 1,271 feet. That’s higher than the city’s current tallest building, the Empire State Building. It rises 1,250 feet to the top observation deck. If you count the Empire State Building’s rooftop antenna, the skyscraper still stands taller at 1,454 feet than One WTC.

The Empire State Building, on the left, is New York City’s current tallest building, topping out at 1,250 on rooftop level.
JOHN MOORE—GETTY IMAGES
The Empire State Building, on the left, is New York City’s current tallest building, topping out at 1,250 on rooftop level.

Moving Forward

Once completed, One WTC will be an achievement filled with symbolism for New York City. The building will replace the twin WTC towers, which collapsed ten years ago following the worse attack on U.S. soil in the nation’s history. On September 11, 2001, thousands of Americans lost their lives when terrorists hijacked four airplanes. Two of the planes toppled the twin towers. One jet destroyed a section of the Pentagon, near Washington, D.C. Another crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

At the time, the twin towers were the tallest buildings in New York. Now, waterfalls pour into two reflecting pools where the towers stood, as a memorial to the victims. The memorial opened in September on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Near the memorial, construction on new office and retail spaces is moving along.  

A Height Debate

Construction on One WTC, which began in April 2006, is estimated to be completed by 2014. When completed, the office building will have 104 floors and will stand 1,368-feet tall at roof level—that is the same height as the north tower of the original World Trade Center. A spire will rise from the roof, bringing the new building’s height to 1,776 feet. The number represents the year our nation was founded.

Large construction cranes sit on top of One World Trade Center, as crews work tirelessly to complete the skyscraper by the end of 2013.
SPENCER PLATT—GETTY IMAGES
Large construction cranes sit on top of One World Trade Center, as crews work tirelessly to complete the skyscraper by the end of 2013.

At full height, One WTC will be considered the tallest building in the U.S., and the third tallest in the world. The tallest skyscraper is the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which stands at 2,717 feet). However, there is some debate among record-keepers over whether to count the height of needles, antennas, spires and other rooftop objects when declaring the tallest buildings. Not counting needles, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), in Chicago, Illinois, will remain the country’s tallest tower at 1,450 feet. "Height is complicated," Nathaniel Hollister, a spokesman for The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats, told the Associated Press.

Still, the new One WTC skyscraper is a welcome sight for many New Yorkers. “Say what you like about the symbolism of tall buildings, they do express civic pride,” Carol Willis, founder of the Skyscraper Museum, in New York City, told The New York Times. “It’s high time for a tower to scrape the sky again in lower Manhattan.”


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