New York City can once again claim to be home to the tallest building in the country, and the Western Hemisphere for that matter.
On Friday, workers topped off the new One World Trade Center building with a spire making the structure 1,776 feet tall, symbolizing the year the United States was born.
The finishing touch, performed by New York construction company Tishman, involved workers securing the final two portions of the spire with 60 bolts at 1,701 feet, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.
Loud applause and shouts erupted from construction workers assembled below as the huge, silver spire was gently lowered and secured into place. The building stands at the site where the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks destroyed both the 110-story twin towers.
“It's a pretty awesome feeling,” Juan Estevez told The Associated Press from a temporary platform on the roof of the tower where he and other workers watched the milestone.
“It's a culmination of a tremendous amount of team work … rebuilding the New York City skyline once again,” said Estevez, a project manager for Tishman Construction.
He said the workers around him were “utterly overjoyed.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed those emotions.
“Today is a proud moment for our city and state as we crown the top of One World Trade Center,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This milestone at the World Trade Center site symbolizes the resurgence and resilience of our state and our nation. I want to personally thank the men and women who have worked tirelessly over the years to make today a reality and remember those who lost their lives nearly 12 years ago when the World Trade Center towers fell.”
Ground was broken on the site on July 4, 2004, but construction got bogged down in disputes between owners, business interests and politicians.
There were also concerns that such a conspicuous building at “Ground Zero,” might make for a tempting terrorist target.
"We are not going to just build low in the face of a war against terror," then-Gov. George Pataki said in 2006.
On Friday, Lee Ielpi, whose firefighter son died after responding to the attacks, watched from his office at the nearby 9/11 Tribute Center, which he co-founded, as workers secured th spire.
“The building looks spectacular .… I'm looking forward to the day when the cranes come down and they light the spire at night,” he told the Associated Press. “It's supposed to be a very moving experience.”
The Port Authority said the LED-powered light would be activated in the next few months.
The tower is scheduled to open next year.
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