Hope, new World Trade Center on the rise
Finally, 11 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the hole that terrorists blasted into the New York skyline is filled.
On Tuesday's anniversary, the new One World Trade Center now reaches 1,368 feet into the sky. Though still unfinished, it dominates lower Manhattan, visible from miles away in every direction.
Anne Ielpi, whose firefighter son Jonathan, 29, was among the nearly 3,000 killed, calls his death "a wound that doesn't heal." But the emerging skyscraper, known as the Freedom Tower, "tells those animals [the terrorists] they haven't won, and that we have to go on every day."
The tower, which will top out at 1,776 feet, is due to be completed by early 2014, the anchor of $15 billion in redevelopment at Ground Zero.
Getting there is taking twice as long as it was supposed to. In 2003, then-Governor George Pataki unveiled a timeline that called for completing the main tower by 2008. But the mega-project became mired in agonizing delays. Stakeholders sparred over finances. There were major revisions and redesigns of the plan to meet concerns about new terror attacks and to adjust to lowered office-space demand.
A 9/11 memorial opened a year ago. But its companion, the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, which was supposed to open Sept. 12, 2012, is stalled in a $156 million dispute between the Port Authority and museum's nonprofit foundation.
Still, the progress has never been more visible.
"It's hard to remember that just a decade ago, many people were convinced that lower Manhattan was finished as a business district," said developer Larry Silverstein, who had just taken over as leaseholder of the Twin Towers from the Port Authority when they were attacked.
The reconstruction of the site is creating an environment that reconnects Ground Zero to the city in a way the old trade center didn't. Streets that were once blocked by the old towers will now be open to pedestrians to traverse the area.
Michael Keane, 49, manager of O'Hara's, a bar a block from Ground Zero, said the rebuilding signals hope.
"The tall buildings make you feel good," said Keane, who had to flee from the collapsing Twin Towers. "We had suffered for a long time."