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Construction Process

Although the construction of the World Trade Center hadn't begin until 1965, the construction of the World Trade Center was under consideration since the end of WWII. The 16 acre's complex project took interest to the Port Authority in the late 1950's. The site was fixed on a super block west side of Lower Manhattan bounded by 4 blocks. The blocks were leveled, and a huge hole referred to as a "bathtub" was dug in the space. Architect Minoru Yamasaki was chosen for the project along with other selected architects chosen by Yamasaki, along with engineers. The Port Authority saw the project to have 10 million square feet of office space, this making Yamasaki work and built many building configurations. As Yamasaki built these building configurations he came up with the concept of twin towers and three low rise buildings. To maximize the area of the plaza the towers were designed to be tall. The towers were initially thought to rise to 80-90 stories high, but later on it was decided to construct them as the world's tallest buildings. The inside of the towers would include a rigid "hollow tube" of closely spaced steel columns with the floor extending to the central core. The towers were very unique in engineer design and its complex and advanced elevator system. The twin towers were the first buildings ever to be built without using masonry. As for the elevator system consisted of "sky lobbies" which passengers used on the 44th and 78th floors, causing a decrease of shaft ways. As construction began in 1966,the cost of the project was estimated to be at $1.5 billion.

Pictures of the Construction Process click here.


The Twin Towers weren't always popular. As the project of the World Trade Center was proposed, to revitalize the seedy "radio row" which was dominated by electronic stores. Then Chase Manhattan Bank Chairman David Rockefeller, founder of the development association, and his brother, Nelson, New York governor, pushed hard for the project, insisting it would benefit the entire city. In 1962, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began plans to build the center. Minoru Yamasaki and Associates of Michigan, and Emery Roth & Sons, P.C., were hired as architects. Eventually, Yamasaki decided on two huge towers. Critics charged that a modern monolith would rob New York of character, ruin the skyline, disrupt television reception, and strain city services. Despite all the controversy, in 1965 the project was approved and construction began. Five streets were closed off and 164 buildings demolished to create the 16-acre site. Construction required the excavation of more than 1.2 million cubic yards of earth which created 23.5 acres of land along the Hudson River, now Battery City Park, a complex of four 60-story skyscrapers and four apartment buildings.

Construction Facts

Building the World Trade Center took 200,000 tons of steel, 425,000 cubic yards of concrete, 600,000 square feet of glass, and 12,000 miles of electric cables. During peak construction periods, 3,500 people worked at the site. A total of 10,000 people worked on the towers; 60 died during its construction.

New York's New Landmark

One World Trade Center was ready for its first tenants in late 1970, though the upper stories were not completed until 1972; Two World Trade Center was finished in 1973. The towers were dedicated in 1973. They were the world's tallest buildings for only a short time, since the Sears Tower in Chicago was dedicated a month later. However, the north tower sported a 360-foot television mast that allowed it to technically remain the world's tallest building. A hotel, a shopping plaza, and three smaller buildings nearby completed the complex. The twin towers became the most popular postcard image in the world. Some three dozen movies were made at the towers, including the 1976 remake of King Kong.


Some 50,000 people worked in the buildings, while another 200,000 visited or passed through each day. The top floor observation deck had 26,000 visitors daily, who could see for 45 miles on a clear day. From the ground, the towers were visible for at least 20 miles. Each tower had 97 elevators for passengers and six for freight. Express elevators zoomed skyward at 27 feet per second, reaching the top in 4.8 minutes. The towers consisted of more than 300 computer main frames that served the towers' occupants.

Public Attraction

Before their collapse, 19 murders were committed and 17 babies born in the towers. They also contained nine chapels representing six different faiths. As the towers became more famous, they attracted daredevils. Three men parachuted from the top, while one dozen mountain climbers scaled the outside. In 1974 a Frenchman walked a tightrope between the towers.

1993 Bombing

In 1993, terrorists drove a truck packed with 1,100 pounds of explosives into the basement parking garage at the World Trade Center. Despite the size of the blast, only six people were killed and 1,000 injured. After that bombing, the number of parking spaces in the basement garage was reduced from 1,000 to 600.

Buried Treasure

The basements of the World Trade Center also contained vast vaults used by the COMEX metals trading division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Some 3,800 gold bars, weighing 12 tons and worth more than $100 million, lie buried under the mountains of rubble left after the attack. Authorities say the gold has never been safer.


In 1999, New York businessman Larry Silverstein purchased the World Trade Center's 99-year lease on the twin towers for $3.2 billion from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Since the attack, Silverstein has vowed to rebuild, suggesting that four smaller towers is a possibility.


Click here for information and a timeline of the events that took place at the WTC on 9/11.