Volume 23, Number 14 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 11 - 17, 2010
My Summer at the World Trade Center, so far
BY Alexandra Rupp
My excitement rose as my plane broke through layers of cloud, revealing the famous skyline of Manhattan where I was going to spend my summer as an intern at the World Trade Center. As the plane circled for landing, I could hardly wait to get started, to see and experience the American – or should I say the New York – way of life.
Since my arrival, the thing that has surprised me most about America’s greatest metropolitan area is how outgoing, helpful and welcoming its people are. I expected a vast city like New York to be characterized by anonymity. On the subway, strangers would start up a conversation on baseball or the weather. No matter how many people this city accommodates, it seems to have created the perfect fusion between the coziness of a village and the immensity of a metropolis.
In typical tourist fashion, I spent the first couple of visiting all of New York City’s most famous sights. It did not take me long, however, to realize that the complex beauty of New York could only be fully appreciated by wandering the streets and soaking up the charm of historic neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Battery Park City.
Just as exciting as my first encounter with the City was my first day as an intern with the documentation department of Silverstein Properties. The aim of the department is to compile and present the latest photos, videos, and animations related to the ongoing rebuilding of the WTC site.
I was given a tour of 7 World Trade Center and only now can I fully comprehend how much thought and effort has gone into the rebuilding. The green features of this building are equal or greater to anything Europe has to offer and the safety precautions are so well incorporated they seem non-existent, creating an open and welcoming environment. There is artwork everywhere: out in the park, in the lobby and all around the building.
I met Larry Silverstein at lunch. He told me about the time he had spent in northern Germany and how no matter how much he sees of the world, he loves New York more than anywhere. I joined Silverstein’s videographer Mike Marcucci on my first day at the WTC site. I was impressed to see how many men and women were creating these enormous buildings. Of course there are many machines, but erecting the towers is still primarily a manual task. Every individual reinforcing bar, for example, is interwoven by hand.
My highest respect goes to the construction workers who are the driving force on the site. After the reinforcing bars have been interwoven, other workers install huge forms around the steel, creating an enclosed space filled with concrete. Once the concrete dries out the forms are removed, revealing a massive pillar offering optimal support for the next floor to be created. This is only a fraction of the ongoing progress forming the 975-foot high frame of what will soon become a finished Tower 4.
One of the tasks assigned to me during this internship was updating the film archives. While going through the hundreds of hours of film Silverstein has shot, I developed a sense for the immenseness and complexity of this project. The tapes capture the progress of the WTC site over the past six years and offer a visual testimony to the vastness of this project that would have otherwise been lost. Watching the film footage allowed me to follow the rebuilding as it unfolded in real time from an idea on paper to mock-ups.
Interning not only gives me the opportunity to spend the summer in a part of the city with unique charm, and an insight into the valuable technique of film documentation, but it also offers me a bird’s eye view of the greatest urban construction project in the world.
Alexandra Rupp is a Political Science student at the University of Trier in Germany. She is interning for the summer with Silverstein Properties at 7 World Trade Center.