Watching the Freedom Tower Rise

Monday, August 16, 2010

First, let me say I'm having a hard time letting go of the moniker "Freedom tower," even though I know the replacement for the Twin Towers' new name is "One World Trade."   I was there when it was named, and I'll be there, I hope, when the 1776-foot tall tower is complete.

When the designs for the World Trade Center site were first unveiled, the Freedom Tower was an elegant needle pushing upwards, full of clear glass and leafy gardens, a thousand feet in the sky. At the time, I believed it would be that. And even the hokey name -- loved by Governor George Pataki, but no one else, seemed part of the aspiring piece of architecture that was the Freedom Tower.

After that annoucement came a series of bruising modifications that made the building blockier and more commercially viable, to be sure. Safer, also, the NYPD says. But somehow not the Olympic pole-vaulter, waiting to take a leap.

Along the way, the name "the Freedom Tower" was shed -- too off-putting, it was believed, for the international tenants that might occupy the building.

I visited Legoland in California last school vacation, where the tower is now part of that amusement park's New York skyline. To me, the building looked like a huge hulk. To my 8-year-old son -- with whom I was pregnant on September 11, 2001 -- it was a triumph. He can't stop telling me the actual edifice will be the tallest building in America, taller, even than Chicago's Sears Tower. When we drive down the West Side Highway, he can't contain his excitement, counting the stories that have been built since our last foray.

My last glimpse of the Twin Towers was from Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. As smoke poured out of the upper stories, would-be straphangers, stranded when the R train was abruptly halted, stared in disbelief at the smouldering towers, punching away at their non-responding cell phones.

My first glimpse of the new tower was from the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn bridge, a piece of blue tarp under a giant crane, nestled next to the elegant Seven World Trade, rebuilt years ago. As I've ridden my bike across the bridge this summer, the tarp has risen.  From the top of the bridge, I can now count ten stories. And like my son, full of anticipation, I watch as it continues to rise, watching its progress as it marches towards the sky.

The announcement of the plans for the Freedom Tower, February 27, 2003. Mayor Bloomberg is in the center, with architect Daniel Libeskind and then-Governor Pataki. WNYC's Andrea Bernstein is in the lower right.


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Comments [7]

Edberto from New York

It's not all Muslim's faults... In fact some of Al Qaeda was against the attack of 9/11. You cannot blame an entire religion for a few who have twisted its words for their own personal war. As a born citizen of the United States, I cannot bare ill will to all when they are not to blame. I feel horrible about what happened to the twin towers during the attack on the WTC, but that is no excuse to hate all muslims. It would be like saying I would hate all white people or hispanics or blacks if one person hurt me. You cannot let raw emotion steer you off course into a pit of rage, hate, and frustration.

Jun. 13 2012 02:16 PM
Phil from NJ

Why oh WHY are we so AFRAID of the damn Muslims?
I think we should have REbuilt the TWIN TOWERS, bigger, better than before and given those bastards the 'finger' by doing so.
Instead, they have changed NYC skyline and every time I look at it, I think of ....MUSLIMS.
Is there any wonder I hate them and wish America was FREE of them!!

Mar. 20 2011 10:51 PM
richard miranda from miami

i am currently living in miami , but i was born in new york so i have been interested in this matter since they first mentioned the reconstruction of ground zero.
i think it would be great to build the twin towers again, along with the freedom towers , dont know why people are complaing about the tower i think it would be great there , but i would like to see the towers again . better then before. and for all the people that criticize the freedom tower what do you prefer to have a hole in the city or something that represents that no matter what we stand strong. think about it.

Nov. 10 2010 08:28 PM
G A D from New York

i think they're letting the Twin Towers "vanish in to memory, never to be seen by future generations" and saying that the terrorists permanently altered New York's skyline

Nov. 09 2010 12:21 PM
jacey from California

I like that fact that their rebuilding at ground zero but im still upset that thier not building 2 towers.i dont know why they didnt do tht?? but atleast my generation gets to see it finished.

Nov. 08 2010 07:40 PM
Tyler Randall from New York

I am pleased to learn of the progress of One World Trade. I am equally pleased that the tower rising is not the cynically-named 'Freedom Tower'. Daniel Libeskind's design was a symbol of his own ego first and an embarrassing reminder of how he exploited our feelings with corny symbolism ('Park of Heroes') and tacky symbolism (1776 feet tall tower), not to mention lies about a 'Wedge of Light' which did not work. His design was an affront to anyone who felt that the tower night heal our city, not be merely a building that loudly and brashly proclaimed one man's ambition and selfish vision for himself.

Aug. 17 2010 07:19 AM
Arnie from NYC

Thought this would be of interest to readers.

Since September 2001 I have maintained the "9/11 list-serv" which distributes daily e-mails containing newspaper articles and other relevant information re: 9/11 issues of interest to 9/11 families, 9/11 organizations and interested individuals.

The 9/11 List-serv archives can be accessed at

If you would like to 'subscribe' to this free news service - send an e-mail to with the word "subscribe" in the subject box.


Aug. 16 2010 08:04 AM

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