wtcbasedet.jpg (204867 bytes) New York Architecture Images- Gone

World Trade Center
Tallest building in the world, 1970-1973
110 floors rising 1,353 feet

0-Main Commentary

0-Main Commentary
1-why did it collapse?
2-images from September 11th, 2001.
3-more images
4-Timeline: World Trade Center chronology
5-Towers of Innovation
6-The work of Minoru Yamasaki
7-images of reactions from around the world


Minoru Yamasaki


Church to West Streets, Liberty to Vesey Streets   




International Style II




Office Building
  Click here for WTC gallery

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  Picture of relocated damaged sculpture- ann marie hughes
  the interior


World Trade Center Commentary

"Yamasaki's commission to design the World Trade Center with the New York firm of Emery Roth and anyone and anything connected world trade. The program presented to Yamasaki, who was selected over a dozen other American architects, was quite explicit: twelve million square feet of floor area on a sixteen acre site, which also had to accommodate new facilities for the Hudson tubes and subway connections—all with a budget of under $500 million. The vast space needs and limited site immediately implied a high-rise development that...make(s) the adjacent drama of Manhattan's business tip seem timid in comparison....

"After studying more than one hundred schemes in model form, Yamasaki decided on a two-tower development to contain the nine million square feet of office space. One tower became unreasonable in size and unwieldy structurally, yet several towers became too approximate for their size and 'looked too much like a housing project'; whereas two towers gave a reasonable office area on each floor, took advantage of the magnificent views, and allowed a manageable structural system. The twin towers, with 110 floors rising 1,353 feet, ... (are) the tallest in the world. From observation decks at the top of the towers it...(is) possible to see 45 miles in every direction....One distinct advantage of the project's enormity is the architectural opportunity to advance the art of building. Yamasaki re-examined the skyscraper from the first principles, considering no ground so hallowed that it could not be questioned, especially in view of the potential of modern technology. The usual economic prohibition on 'custom-made' was out, as virtually anything made for the Center would automatically become a stock item. 'Economy is not in the sparseness of materials that we use,' said Yamasaki of his $350 million estimated cost, 'but in the advancement of technology, which is the real challenge.'

"The structural system, deriving from the I.B.M. Building in Seattle, is impressively simple. The 208-foot wide facade is, in effect, a prefabricated steel lattice, with columns on 39-inch centers acting as wind bracing to resist all overturning forces; the central core takes only the gravity loads of the building. A very light, economical structure results by keeping the wind bracing in the most efficient place, the outside surface of the building, thus not transferring the forces through the floor membrane to the core, as in most curtain-wall structures. Office spaces will have no interior columns. In the upper floors there is as much as 40,000 square feet of office space per floor. The floor construction is of prefabricated trussed steel, only 33 inches in depth, that spans the full 60 feet to the core, and also acts as a diaphragm to stiffen the outside wall against lateral buckling forces from wind-load pressures.

"The other primary obstacle to be overcome in the skyscraper is the elevator system, and Yamasaki has shown himself equally imaginative here. A combination of express and local elevator banks, called a skylobby system, it is particularly efficient because it requires fewer elevator shafts—thus freeing approximately 75 percent of the total floor area for occupancy; had a conventional elevator arrangement been adopted, only approximately 50 percent would have been available. The building has three vertical zones; express elevators serve skylobbies at the forty-first and seventy-fourth floors; from these, and from the plaza level, four banks of local elevators carry passengers to each of the three zones.

"From the outset, Yamasaki believed that there should be an open plaza from which one could appreciate the scale of the towers upon approach. There is little or no sense of scale, for instance, standing at the base of the Empire State Building. Yamasaki's plaza...(is) sheltered from the river winds and contained by five-story buildings shops, exhibition pavilions and a 250-room hotel."

"'The World Trade Center should,' Yamasaki said, 'because of its importance, become a living representation of man's belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his belief in the cooperation of men, and through this cooperation his ability to find greatness.' "

— from Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. p194-195.

For a detailed story of the World Trade Center planning process, please see our article page   Casting Giant Shadows: The Politics of Building the World Trade Center.

The Creator's Words

"There are a few very influential architects who sincerely believe that all buildings must be 'strong'. The word 'strong' in this context seems to connote 'powerful' — that is, each building should be a monument to the virility of our society. These architects look with derision upon attempts to build a friendly, more gentle kind of building. ... Although it is inevitable for architects who admire [the] great monumental buildings of Europe to strive for the quality most evident in them — grandeur, the elements of mysticism and power, basic to cathedrals and palaces, are also incongruous today, because the buildings we build for our times are for a totally different purpose."

— Minoru Yamasaki. from Paul Heyer, Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America, p186.

"I feel this way about it. World trade means world peace and consequently the World Trade Center buildings in New York ... had a bigger purpose than just to provide room for tenants. The World Trade Center is a living symbol of 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 representation of man's belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and through cooperation, his ability to find greatness."

— Minoru Yamasaki

Building Details

  110 stories, 1353 feet (412 meters) tall
   (By some sources, Tower One was 1368 feet tall and Tower Two was 1362 feet. Some sources say 1350 feet overall.)
  About 10,000,000 square feet of rentable space, occupied by about 50,000 people.
  An acre of rentable space on each floor of each tower.
   (Gross area of 43200 square feet (4020 square meters) each per floor.)
Owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The world's tallest building for a short time, taking over from the Empire State Building, and then surpassed by the Sears Tower.

The site is 16 acres in lower Manhattan, with buildings grouped around a five acre central plaza. The site is bounded by Vesey Street on the north, Church Street on the east, Liberty Street on the south, and West Street on the west, about three blocks north of the New York Stock Exchange.

Observation deck, South Tower, WTC 2, floor 107 (summer hours 9:30am to 11:30pm).
Skylobbies on floors 44 and 78 served by high speed elevators.
Seven underground levels including services, shopping, and a subway station.
The two nine story Plaza Buildings, with roughly ell-shaped plans, flank the main entrance to the complex from Church Street, with WTC 4 on the south and WTC 5 on the north.

Groundbreaking for construction was on August 5th, 1966. Steel construction began in August 1968. First tenant occupancy of One WTC was December, 1970, and occupancy of Two WTC began in January 1972. Ribbon cutting was on April 4, 1973.

On Friday, February 26, 1993, a massive terrorist bomb was exploded in the Center's public parking garage, but the Towers survived.

World Trade Center Disaster — Tuesday, September 11, 2001

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, at 8:45am New York local time, One World Trade Center, the north tower, was hit by a hijacked 767 commercial jet airplane, loaded with fuel for a trans-continental flight. Two World Trade Center, the south tower, was hit by a similar hijacked jet 18 minutes later at 9:03am.   (In separate but related attacks, the Pentagon building near Washington D.C. was hit by a hijacked 757 at 9:43am, and at 10:10am, a fourth hijacked jetliner crashed in Pennsylvania.)   The south tower, WTC 2, which had been hit second, was the first to suffer a complete structural collapse at 10:05am, 62 minutes after being hit itself, 80 minutes after the first impact. The north tower, WTC 1, then also collapsed at 10:29am, 104 minutes after being hit. WTC 7, a substantial 47 story office building in its own right, built in 1987, was damaged by the collapsing towers, caught fire, and later in the afternoon also totally collapsed.

The list of collapsed buildings (as confirmed by the New York Times through Saturday, 2001.0915) included all seven buildings of the World Trade center complex — including WTC 6, the U.S Customs House to the north; WTC 3, the 22 story Marriot World Trade Center hotel just west of Tower Two; and WTC 4 and 5, the Plaza Buildings to the east (although satellite images suggest much of WTC 5, the north Plaza Building, was still standing). Other nearby buildings were significantly damaged, including the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, and One Liberty Plaza, a 54 floor, 743' tall building across Church Street to the east.

About 2800 people died in the disaster. At the time the recovery and site clearing process officially concluded on May 30, 2002, 1796 people remained unrecovered. 1.8 million tons of debris was removed from the disaster site.


Philippe Petit A memorable event in the life of the World Trade Center came in the summer of 1974, while the still-unfinished (and largely unrented) towers were courting financial disaster and facing a barrage of architectural and social criticism. In the course of a single morning, the unexpected -- and illegal -- actions of a daring young Frenchman and a few of his confederates would do more to change public opinion about the troubled billion-dollar project than anything else in its first years of existence.

The episode originated six years earlier, in 1968, when an eighteen-year-old street performer named Philippe Petit, waiting in a dentist's office in Paris with a toothache, came across an article about the twin towers, along with an illustration of the project in model form. Suddenly, a daring, almost inconceivable thought came into his head.

Romantic Calling
"They called me," he later explained. "I didn't choose them. Anything that is giant and manmade strikes me in an awesome way and calls me. I could secretly... put my wire... between the highest towers in the world. It was something that had to be done, and I couldn't explain it... it was a calling of the romantic type."

A Dream Is Born
Philippe Petit Feigning a sneeze, Petit ripped the page from the newspaper and hastily left the office, prolonging his dental agony for several more days. "But what was it to have a toothache for another week," he later recalled, "when what I had now in my chest was a dream?"

In Training
For the next six years, Petit patiently nurtured his dream, perfecting his skills as a high-wire artist and learning everything he could about the World Trade Center. In January 1974, now twenty-four years old, he flew to New York City for the first time in his life to put his daring plan into action. After months scouting the towers, including posing as a journalist to interview Port Authority executive Guy Tozzoli, he set to work on the evening of Tuesday, August 6. While one group of colleagues made its way up the north tower, Petit and two friends slipped up to the top of the south tower, carrying their concealed equipment, including a disassembled balancing pole, wire for rigging, 250 feet of one-inch braided steel cable, and a bow and arrow.

Stepping Into the Void
It took all night to complete the rigging, securing the steel cable a quarter of a mile in the sky across the 130-foot gap separating the towers. Wall Street was just beginning to come to life when, at a little past seven on the morning of August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit stepped onto the wire stretched out across the void.

Philippe Petit On the street below, people stopped in their tracks -- first by the tens, then by the hundreds and thousands -- staring up in wonder and disbelief at the tiny figure walking on air between the towers. Sgt. Charles Daniels of the Port Authority Police Department, dispatched to the roof to bring Petit down, looked on in helpless amazement. "I observed the tightrope 'dancer' -- because you couldn't call him a 'walker' -- approximately halfway between the two towers," he later reported. "And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire... And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle... He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again... Unbelievable really.... [E]verybody was spellbound in the watching of it."

To the delight of the Port Authority, the exploit made front-page news around the world, and Petit himself became an instant folk hero. Thanks to the immense outpouring of public adulation for his performance, all formal charges against him were dropped, and the 24 year old was "sentenced" to perform his high-wire act for a group of children in Central Park.

Lifetime Pass
Philippe Petit Soon after his walk, the Port Authority presented him with a free lifetime pass to the observation deck atop the south tower -- where he was asked to sign his name on a steel beam overlooking the vast canyon where he had danced among the clouds. In the years to come, he would often return to the breathtaking perch where he had captured the attention of the entire world, and, in the space of just forty-five minutes, accomplished a seemingly impossible feat: making two of the tallest, largest and most imposing structures in the world seem suddenly endearing and friendly.





Philippe Petit

"When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk."

Humanity has changed.

The catastrophic damage wrought on New York City, the World Trade Center and our planet is hard to describe at this moment.

Evil lives. But, it will not be tolerated. Make no mistake: this is a planetary problem.

The World Trade Center was an achievement for all humankind. So simple, yet profound. Two towers stretching 110 stories into the sky, marking the modern Manhattan skyline. Yesterday morning, thoughtless villainy wrought terror into the hearts of my fellow New Yorkers. However, I am reminded of the classic film, Casablanca. When the Nazi Major Strasser asks Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) if he can imagine the Third Reich in his beloved New York, the inimitable Bogart replies, "Well, there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you try to invade." And it is true.

New Yorkers have rallied. Blood donors are so numerous, the supply cannot be handled immediately. Thousands are delivering clothing and food to Chelsea Piers relief center. You can help by sending money, clothing or donating blood to the Red Cross. Prayers are appreciated.

Thousands are likely dead. Two monuments to humankind's achievement are no more. One of the world's major cities has suffered for no reason. Whoever did this has no point to make. The criminals have only proved their own idiocy. A master of evil is a master of NOTHING. History proves this.

The World Trade Center was aptly named. It was a center of commerce -- but more importantly -- trade. To trade. Exchange. Give and receive. A symbol of the freedom to go forward with ingenuity and prosper. The buildings may now be rubble. But the blood and bone that stain our streets will not deter the human spirit to pursue the metaphor that was the World Trade Center.

As I write, the sirens continue and the air force jets above guard our little island. Death surrounds us. Misery everywhere. The world cries at the hands of the selfish and unthinking.

My family and most of my friends are safe. We are blessed. My wife and I deeply thank all of you who have called, emailed or prayed for our safety.

We will all go on. Those who do not believe in Mahatma Gandhi's statement that "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" will suffer from their own karma, or, action. This is the law of Being. No human court can bring justice to this incalculable act of violence.




Photos of Philippe Petit copyright by Thierry Orbach from the book, On the High Wire by Philippe Petit. WTC walk photos by Jean Louis Blondeau and Jean-Francois Heckel during the first of Petit's 8 crossings. Video stills of the WTC taken January 9, 2001 at dawn from Jersey City, NJ (courtesy Geoff Goldman) by Ben Robinson.




 On August 7th, 1974 a lone Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire he attached between the towers of the World Trade Center through clandestine and brilliant means. As he took his first step onto his steel cable with his balance pole, 1,350 feet above the ground, he said that he was walking on air; guided by angels and his own genius.

Petit's actions not only stretched our imaginations to what was humanly possible, but he did so with grace and unprecedented courage.

May we all remember the World Trade Center and the great lengths to which it inspired the human spirit.


-Ben Robinson

  EDITOR'S NOTE: Philippe Petit's book "To Reach The Clouds" was released in August 2002.




Sources on World Trade Center

" Reconstruction Complications Continue", by B.J. Novitski, ArchitectureWeek No. 60, 2003.0827, pN1.1.
" Libeskind Scheme Chosen for WTC", by B.J. Novitski, ArchitectureWeek No. 137, 2003.0305, pN1.1.
"WTC Design Competition Results", by ArchitectureWeek, ArchitectureWeek No. 128, 2003.0101, pN1.1.
"Anniversary of Disaster", by Tess Taylor, ArchitectureWeek No. 114, 2002.0911, pN1.1.
"World Trade Center Planning Uncertain", by ArchitectureWeek, ArchitectureWeek No. 109, 2002.0807, pN1.1.
"WTC Site Master Planning Team Selected", by Tess Taylor, ArchitectureWeek No. 100, 2002.0529, pN1.1.
"Engineers Explain WTC Collapse ", by B.J. Novitski, ArchitectureWeek No. 98, 2002.0515, pN1.1.
"New York Considers", by Tess Taylor, ArchitectureWeek No. 75, 2001.1114, pN1.1.
"Early Days at the Disaster", by Patrick J. McNierney, ArchitectureWeek No. 74, 2001.1107, pN1.1.
"Engineering Forensics of Collapse", by Michael J. Crosbie, ArchitectureWeek No. 71, 2001.1017, pN1.1.
"Rebuilding in New York", by Tess Taylor, ArchitectureWeek No. 68, 2001.0926, pN1.1.
"Beyond Disaster", by ArchitectureWeek, ArchitectureWeek No. 67, 2001.0919, pN1.1.
"World Trade Center Destroyed", editorial by Kevin Matthews and B.J. Novitski with Michael Crosbie, ArchitectureWeek No. 66, 2001.0912, pN1.1.

"Casting Giant Shadows: The Politics of Building the World Trade Center", by Roger Cohen, 1990, online at

AIA Guide to New York City. Times Books, June 2000. (NA 735.N5 A78 1988, p48-49.) ISBN 0812931076. —

Eric Darton. Divided We Stand: A Biography of New York City's World Trade Center. Basic Books, 2001. ISBN 0465017274.

Angus Kress Gillespie. Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center. Rutgers University Press, November 1999. ISBN 0813527422. —

Bill Harris. The World Trade Center: A Tribute. Running Press, November 2001. ISBN 0762413158. —

Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. New York: Walker and Company, 1966. LC 66-22504. IBSN 0442017510. discussion p186, 194-195. — Out of print

Lawrence A. Martin, University of Oregon. Slides from photographer's collection, September 1993. PCD.3235.1012.0545.020. PCD.3235.1012.0545.022. PCD.3235.1012.0545.021.

Donald Martin Reynolds, Richard Berenholtz. Manhattan Architecture. NA 735.N5B47 1988. ISBN 013551987X. p18, 19, 36, 37, 96-99.

Minoru Yamasaki. A Life in Architecture. New York: Weatherhill, 1979. NA737.Y3A2 1979. ISBN 0-8348-0136-1. LC 79-11561. drawing of site plan, p119. drawing of ground plan of a tower, p118.