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Sun gleamed from the last two pieces of the spire Thursday morning as they were lifted to their rightful place atop 1 World Trade Center. Once installed, the 408 foot spire will bring the building to its symbolic height of 1,776 feet, making it arguably the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere.
Piece 17 and 18 are the last pieces to be brought up, completing a journey that began when the steel was shipped 1,500 nautical miles from Valleyfield, Quebec to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in Lower Manhattan and hoisted piece by piece starting in December 2012. They were scheduled to be hoisted on Monday, but had to be postponed due to weather.
“It’s a mission for all of us…” said Steve Plate, head of construction on the W.T.C. site for the authority. “At the end of the day, when evil events happen, the goodness of people transcends in a very special way in a good way to shine a bright light on the site like this that shows how people will rally together to bring out the best in people.”
With three communication rings, the spire will serve a state-of-the-art broadcast facility inside 1 W.T.C., and is topped by a beacon.
Controversy over whether the spire can be counted as “architecturally significant” or simply as an antennae — which is not part of the total height — will determine if 1 W.T.C., a k a Freedom Tower, can be called the tallest building in America. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, based in Chicago, is waiting to see the final design of the spire before it makes its judgment. If it decides that the height should be counted at the top floor, 1 W.T.C. Will be the third tallest building behind two Chicago skyscrapers — Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the Trump International Hotel & Tower.
Tallest building or not, the day was an iconic one. Scattered applause broke out among construction workers gathering to watch the piece beginning to rise.
“To see that last piece go up is a real honor,” said George Meritt, who said he will have spent 40 years in construction in September, and that this was a good “last hurrah.”
The actual installation of the spire will take place at a “later date,” said an official with the Port, which owns the site. Construction workers at the W.T.C. said it was tentatively scheduled for May 8, but that it all depends on the weather.
“It could be snowing up there and fine down here, or vice versa. It could be above the clouds while it’s raining on us down here. It’s that tall,” said Jim Laug, who said he had been working on the W.T.C. for 4 years and said he thought it was a good thing that the milestone was marked.
“Shows you that we’re vibrant, that we can make it back stronger,” he said.