The Building of the World Trade Center and Its Legacy [Video]

A Legacy of commerce, peace, and communication.

Sometimes I feel like I just happen to be in the right place at the right time. On the Friday before the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a friend showed up at my house with some folders of he had dug out of his records.  Trust me when I say that there was no one more shocked to see these documents. I was looking at an actual folder with schematics, hand drawn renderings, and plans for what would be the World Trade Center towers, as well as photos of the building of the towers in progress. The folder was from a press conference held at the New York Hilton Hotel on Saturday, January 18, 1964, at 11:00AM to share the announcement about the plan to build the World Trade Center towers.

As I went through the documents, I was struck by so many things. I could hardly believe the exquisite detail of the hand drawn sketches as this was prior to any form of digital CAD software. I was also touched by the words that expressed the meaning of what these towers would stand for: a super shuttle to the sky, a new dimension of international commerce, a unified community for America’s export-import business.

The words that touched me the most and literally gave me goosebumps 57 years later came from a quote in the documents from Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the World Trade Center:

“This great project, to be built in lower Manhattan, for the purpose of bringing together the presently scattered elements of world trade in the most important port in the world has architectural possibilities which have rarely existed in a project of our times.

“Paramount in importance is the relation of world trade to world peace, since the communication and understanding between nations implicit in trade is basic to peace. Man today identifies himself with and is as dedicated to world peace as he has been to the great causes of the past. Thus, the architectural opportunity exists in this project to make this complex of buildings a living symbol to man’s dedication to world peace.

“Beyond the compelling need to make this a monument to world peace, the World Trade Center should, because of its importance , become a living representation of man’s belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and through this cooperation his ability to find greatness.”

As we suffered each in our own way through the tragic events of 9/11, I think that Yamasaki’s words go deeper than an architectural dream. They reflect a feeling of what we wish for our nation as an international beacon of hope for the world. We as Americans pride ourselves on the opportunities that this country provides us and we will not be defeated. We are strong.

On this twentieth anniversary weekend we reflect on those whose lives were taken from us on a day that none of us will ever forget. A day that changed everything. Families were torn apart by events that none of us could have imagined. Now, twenty years later, time has healed some of the pain but has not dimmed our memory. I hope we can remember Yamasaki’s words: communication, understanding, and peace. Let’s continue to be the beacon shining bright that makes this country an incredible place to live.

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