Construction workers were all set to place a spire atop One World Trade Center yesterday, which would have made it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The spire, which is actually an antennae, will make the building 1,776 feet.
1776, get it? That’d be the year that the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, a few days after which an angry mob toppled a 4,000 pound gilded lead sculpture of King George riding a horse in Bowling Green, not far from what would eventually become the World Trade Center Complex.
So Lower Manhattan has a long history with symbols becoming magnets for violence. And One World Trade will always be a symbol as much as it is a skyscraper, which is of course not a terribly comforting thought. It was probably a good idea to drop the name “Freedom Tower” — how terror tempting is that? — although the official reason, also true, was that no one would ever really think of a tall building on that site as anything other than World Trade Center.
As symbols go, yesterday’s date — April 29th — would have been a good one for the spire to be hoisted, because it was also the six month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which was the most devastating event to hit lower Manhattan since 9/11.
But as it happened, it was not a terribly nice day in New York City yesterday, and so the spire installation project was postponed to another yet-to-be-announced date. The official reason was wind, and so the Windy City’s Willis Tower will get to be the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere a bit longer. Although that’s just verbal symmetry and not symbolic of anything in particular.
Alison J. Stein
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