BY KAITLYN MEADE | The last pieces of the spire were installed at the top of 1 World Trade Center on Friday, May 10, bringing the Freedom Tower to its final height of 1,776 feet, said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Pieces 17 and 18 were installed by construction crews using an elevated crane on top of the building. Ironworkers lifted the final two pieces off a temporary work platform on the roof and attached them to the 16 sections of the spire that were already installed. During the installation, two crane operators climbed 195 feet to enter the crane’s cabin, which is equipped with safety cables and ironworkers set and tightened 60 bolts at an altitude of 1,701 feet, said to the Port Authority.
The last two pieces were lifted to the top of the tower on Thursday, May 2, completing a journey that began in Valleyfield, Quebec, where the steel sections were originally shipped from. They traveled 1,500 nautical miles to Lower Manhattan and were hoisted into place starting in December 2012.
“To see that last piece go up is a real honor,” said George Meritt, who stopped to watch as they were hoisted two weeks ago. He said he will have spent 40 years in construction in September, and that this was a good “last hurrah.”
The beacon, which contains 288 50-watt LED modules that produce a 288,000 lumens of light, will soon be lit. It will be visible up to 50 miles on a clear night, according to the Port Authority.
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. 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 of its 104th 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.
Whether or not it receives recognition for the Council on Tall Buildings, it has become a symbol for New York City.
“With the final section of spire now in place, One World Trade Center stands as the Western Hemisphere’s tallest icon of freedom, resilience and the indomitable American spirit,” Scott Rechler, the Port’s vice chairperson said in a statement.
“It’s a mission for all of us…” Steve Plate, head of construction on the W.T.C. site for the authority, told reporters May 2. “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.”