Volume 17 • Issue 7 / July 9 - 15, 2004

Construction begins on the Freedom Tower

By Josh Rogers

Downtown Express photos by Ramin Talaie

The cornerstone to the Freedom Tower was lifted and lowered into the ground at tteh World Trade Center site.

Officials symbolically marked the start of Freedom Tower construction July 4 by laying a 20-ton cornerstone dedicated to the people who were killed Sept. 11, 2001.

“They attacked us to break our spirit instead they broke our hearts,” Gov. George Pataki said at the ceremony. Pataki was the one who named the tower conceived by Daniel Libeskind and designed by David Childs.

Pataki was joined by Gov. James McGreevey of New Jersey and Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Pataki said the building would be “a new soaring tribute that will stand 1,776 feet high, marking the year of our nation’s birth.” But The New York Times reported the next day that it was unlikely the building would be exactly 1,776 feet.

Gerald McKelvey, a spokesperson for the building’s developer, Larry Silverstein, confirmed that the height is undecided.

“It may well have to be somewhat higher than that,” McKelvey told Downtown Express. “Nothing is ruled out or nothing is ruled in. It will be very close to that.”

Two World Financial Center offices rise above the World Trade Center slurry wall.

The tower would be the largest building in the world. Libeskind, the W.T.C. site plan architect, has said on many occasions that even if the building were someday surpassed, the height would always have meaning because it would be tied to America’s history.

Before the revelations about the height, Silverstein said that it will help Downtown heal to see a tower rise from the site. “You’re going to see significant steel soaring in ‘05, ‘06, ‘07 and ’08,” he said after the Independence Day ceremony.

Previously, he has said he has enough money to build the $1.6 billion tower, but Roland Betts, a member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. board, said Silverstein may need Liberty Bonds to build the Freedom Tower as well as the other four office towers.

Janno Lieber, Silverstein Properties’ executive vice president, told the City Council June 30 that his firm would need about $3.5 billion of the tax-free bonds to build all of the offices at the site. His testimony was first reported in last week’s Downtown Express.

Some relatives of the victims and others demonstrated near the site because they either thought construction was moving too fast without preserving the site’s history, or it was proceeding without taking into account the environmental effects, or because they thought the Twin Towers should be rebuilt.

But at the ceremony, attendees praised the beginning of the construction. Charles Wolf, whose wife was killed, said he came to the ceremony because it was important to move forward. “This is not going to be an empty pit for the rest of our lives,” he said.


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