These terrorists, through their warped and envious eyes, saw something many Americans missed: the true beauty of the Twin Towers as a testament to all that our nation has and will accomplish.
World Trade Center before the attacks of September 11th. (Photo by Camerique/ClassicStock/Getty Images)
Sep 28, 2022 12:01 AM
In the 21 years since their destruction on 9/11, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center have posthumously become such powerful symbols of Americanism that it is easy to forget how unpopular they were during their three-decade lifespan.
The towers were criticized from the start for their monotonous blockiness, derided as “filing cabinets” and “the boxes that the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building came in.” Indoors, the towers’ narrow windows denied occupants full panoramic views. The towers were also riddled with asbestos, and fraught with structural vulnerabilities that may have contributed to their collapse. They were perhaps the two most modernist buildings ever created, the epitome of form following function, and their destruction, in the first days of the twenty-first century, wrote a symbolic end to the twentieth.
Their myriad flaws undoubtedly contributed to the decision not to rebuild the towers in the aftermath of the attacks. The damaged portion of the Pentagon was rebuilt, and, had it been attacked, the Empire State Building likely would have been rebuilt, too. Though few would admit it out loud, some probably viewed the attacks as a tragic erasure of an architectural mistake. The new One World Trade Center, itself the object of much criticism, has a sleeker and more elegant design, and blends in more seamlessly with the rest of Lower Manhattan. And yet to decide not to rebuild the towers, with their problems fixed but in keeping with the original design, may have been one of the greatest mistakes our nation has ever made. By replacing them with an entirely new building, we tacitly ceded ground to those who attacked us, giving them a say in the New York skyline.
This was recognized by none other than Donald Trump, who as a real estate developer in the 2000s sponsored a proposal for the “Twin Towers II.” Trump’s plan would have rebuilt the towers five stories taller (reminiscent of his later promises about the border wall) and with additional safety features. As proposal architect Kevin Gardner said, “in Israel, whenever a building was destroyed by terrorists, they put it back.” In this case, Trump’s gut instincts were correct; abandoning the Twin Towers’ design indeed signified surrender.
If Americans did not see the value in the buildings, their attackers certainly did. This is why they attacked the structure repeatedly, starting with Ramzi Yousef’s 1993 bombing. Then, years later, the 9/11 planners chose the towers from a long list of targets proposed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, including nuclear-power plants, FBI and CIA headquarters, and other tall buildings on both coasts.
In the terrorists’ estimation, the Twin Towers were targets on par with the Pentagon, White House, and Capitol—central organs of their American foe. They were twin pillars of American financial might, and symbolized all that Al-Qaeda, in its savage backwardness, loathed about the United States.
That loathing has its roots in the modern Islamic-terror movement’s intellectual forefather, the Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb, who visited the United States in the late 1940s and wrote a vicious denunciation of “The American I Have Seen.” Qutb praised America’s “inexhaustible material resources, strength and manpower,” but said the nation’s greatness was only skin-deep: “In America, man was born with science, and thus believed in it alone. In fact, he only believed in one kind of science, and that was applied science.” Americans, he said, were given over to “the crude power of the mind and the overwhelming lust for the sensual pleasure,” resulting in a society devoid of “windows to the world of the spirit or the heart or tender sentiment.”
The rest of the essay rails against everything from American women to American haircuts to salted watermelon. But Qutb’s work, for all its flaws, contains a coherent worldview, one which inspired a cadre of sullen young men to carry out the 9/11 attacks. Those men saw themselves as having been brought low before an unworthy enemy. A thousand years ago, in the Islamic Golden Age, the Muslim world spanned much of Afro-Eurasia and sat at the center of global civilization. Cities such as Baghdad were bastions of civilization, producing great poets, artists, philosophers, theologians, scientists, mathematicians, and architects.
But Islamic civilization had declined in the centuries since. The Middle East was carved up by the European powers after World War I, and then humiliated again by the tiny nation of Israel, which repeatedly smote the vast Arabic armies. The humiliated Islamists of Al-Qaeda prayed to God to give them back their strength long enough to strike a deadly blow at their enemies. And they succeeded, punching far above their weight, as a small group of poorly trained losers brought down the twin pillars of the temple of capitalism.
Did it not occur to the hijackers, those men of the eighth century howling through the sky at the helm of a machine of the twenty-first, that they were themselves incapable of building such a machine? The word “hijack” has perhaps never been more appropriate; the airplane is a Western creation, invented and developed in the nations Qutb hated, a device by its very nature emblematic of American superiority.
For all his pretensions, one suspects Qutb’s true motives were far baser: envy of the self-evident greatness of American civilization. His writing smacks of insecure rationalization, of sour grapes, of explaining away his object of envy. This is most apparent in his descriptions of American girls who “awaken primal sensations” with their “round breasts” and “full buttocks,” and of American boys with their “ox muscles.” Qutb would have adopted America’s technological might and its cultural beauty in an instant if given the chance. He could have been a visionary who helped rebuild the Islamic world into a great civilization once more, but he chose instead to destroy.
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It is also worth mentioning that pilot-hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah were apparently afflicted by doubts in their final days. According to Jarrah’s widow, “much about America shook the views of the three, forcing them to ponder the difference between their societies and the richness and hope of the West. In America, no one pried into who they were. They were free to travel and practice their faith — and even train to be terrorists — without the mosque or secret police or even neighbors watching or judging. (They) were free to be themselves.”
These terrorists, through their warped and envious eyes, saw something many Americans missed: the true beauty of the Twin Towers as a testament to all that our nation has and will accomplish. When Notre-Dame burned in 2019, many agreed that the cathedral should be restored with minimal changes. To change it would have been to deface hallowed ground. And, in a sense, the Twin Towers were also hallowed ground, even before their destruction. Had we once again raised those imposing symbols of America’s capitalistic might, we would have secured a final spiritual victory over the enemy. Our decision not to do so is a punctuation mark on our failed war on terror.
This New Urbanism series is supported by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. FollowNew Urbson Twitter for a feed dedicated to TAC’s coverage of cities, urbanism, and place.
One World Trade Center, also known as One World Trade, One WTC, and formerly the Freedom Tower (still sometimes used colloquially), is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City.Who wanted to build the Twin Towers? ›
Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. The core complex was built between 1966 and 1975, at a cost of $400 million (equivalent to $3.56 billion in 2022). The idea was suggested by David Rockefeller to help stimulate urban renewal in Lower Manhattan, and his brother Nelson signed the legislation to build it.What was the reason for the breakdown of the Twin Towers? ›
The collapse of the World Trade Center occurred on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, after two commercial airliners hijacked by Al-Qaeda were deliberately flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City as part of the September 11 attacks.What was the outcome of the Twin Towers? ›
Within 2 hours, both towers had collapsed. The crash and the resulting fires and building collapses killed 2801 people, 147 of whom were passengers on the 2 jets.Will the World Trade Center ever be rebuilt? ›
The underground parking garage started construction in 2017, followed by the building in 2018. The center is planned to open in 2023.Is one World Trade Center taller than the Twin Towers? ›
The building is 1,776 feet in height, which was by design to have some historical significance. The height pays tribute to the United States being born in 1776. The old Twin Towers were 1,368 feet. One World Trade Center is the seventh-tallest building in the world.Who owns the land where the Twin Towers were? ›
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) owns the site's land (except for 7 World Trade Center). The original World Trade Center complex stood on the site until it was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.Who will demolish Twin Towers? ›
Edifice Engineering, the company responsible for demolishing the Noida Supertech Twin Towers, has secured a Rs 100 crore worth insurance policy to cover any potential losses.Who owned the land under the Twin Towers? ›
|Born||May 30, 1931 New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Alma mater||New York University|
|Occupation||Owner of Silverstein Properties|
In 2010, workers excavating the World Trade Center site discovered a 30-foot long section of the wooden vessel 20-30 feet below street level. A year later, they uncovered a three-foot section of the ship's bow.
NIST reported maximum upper layer air temperatures of about 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) in the WTC towers (for example, see NCSTAR 1, Figure 6-36).How long did it take to build the Twin Towers? ›
Construction on the World Trade Center began on August 5, 1966, but most of the work in the first two years was below street level. The Twin Towers began their vertical climb in 1968. The North Tower was completed first in December 1970, followed by the South Tower in July 1971.How did 9 11 impact the economy? ›
Not surprisingly, airlines and the insurance industry suffered the hardest losses immediately following 9/11. Similar steep declines hit the travel, tourism, hospitality, entertainment, and financial-services sectors. In the financial-services sector, Merrill Lynch lost 11.5% and Morgan Stanley lost 13%.What were the diseases of 9 11? ›
 The aerodigestive injuries led to enduring diagnoses of asthma, chronic cough syndrome (WTC cough), chronic laryngitis, chronic nasopharyngitis, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS), RUDS, GERD, and sometimes to fibrosis, granulomas, or other nodules within the lung parenchyma[1,2,5,6]; however, ...Why did 9 11 happen? ›
9/11 resulted from the confluence of multiple factors. Islamic extremism was stirred by the Iranian Revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the assassination of the Egyptian president.How much did it cost to rebuild after 911? ›
The final cost of the cleanup and restoration of the World Trade Center site is expected to be about $1.5 billion. Another $16.4 billion will be required to replace or repair destroyed and damaged buildings at the site and its adjacent areas and to replace the buildings' contents.What is the cost of twin tower? ›
Actual cost of Twin Tower
The actual construction cost of Noida Twin Tower was Rs 933 per sq feet aggregating to a total of Rs 70 crores.
The process of cleanup and recovery at Ground Zero took a total of eight months, with rescue and recovery workers working 24 hours a day. The remains of all the other buildings in the World Trade Center were demolished. And finally, by the end of May, the last piece of steel was ceremonially removed.What was the problem with the One World Trade Center? ›
One World Trade suffered huge cost overruns and was slower to rebuild than the two other office buildings on the site controlled by developer Larry Silverstein, who with investors had leased the World Trade Center for 99 years about one month before the attack. Mr.Can we enter World Trade Center? ›
One World Trade Center Opening Hours
If you plan on visiting the One World Trade Center's 9/11 Memorial & Museum you can visit during their opening hours between 9am-8pm daily.
The new One World Trade Center began construction in 2006; in April 2012 it surpassed the Empire State Building to become the city's tallest.Were there residential apartments in the Twin Towers? ›
And in fact, by 1979, almost a decade after its first tenants moved in, there was still more than a million square feet of unoccupied office space at the complex. That's on top of the huge chunk of the Twin Towers that had no private tenants.Where did the remnants of the Twin Towers go? ›
The biggest chunk of steel, weighing 47,000 pounds, was given to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which raises money for first responders injured or killed in the line of duty. The smallest—a handful of nails fused together—was given to the office of New York Senator Chuck Schumer.Why is it called Ground Zero? ›
In mapping the effects of an atomic bomb, such as on the city of Hiroshima here, concentric circles are drawn centered on the point below the detonation and numbered at radial distances of 1,000 feet (305 meters). This point below the detonation is called "Ground Zero".What happened to Supertech? ›
Of this group of banks, the Union Bank of India was the leading lender, and had an exposure of ₹150 crore. December 30, 2013: A loan agreement was reportedly executed between the banks and Supertech. Later, it has been alleged, there were repeated defaults in payment of principal and interest.How many people managed to leave the twin towers? ›
On September 11, 2001, an estimated 13,000--15,000 persons successfully evacuated the two World Trade Center (WTC) towers.What are the expenses of demolition of twin towers? ›
Rs 20 crore dust
More than 3,700 kgs of explosives were used in this operation. The cost of the demolition itself is estimated at about Rs 20 crore.
Bjarke Ingels, who was selected as the architect for Two World Trade Center's new design, stated that he would have rebuilt the World Trade Center if it were up to him.Which tower was hit first? ›
The first impact was that of American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan at 8:46 a.m. Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03, the World Trade Center's South Tower was hit by United Airlines Flight 175.Which company lost the most employees on 9 11? ›
|Products||Financial services Investment banking|
|Number of employees||12,000|
High-resolution version of this photo. In the footprints of where the twin towers once stood sit two rectangular, reflective pools. Measuring close to an acre each and 45 feet in depth, the pools serve as the base of North America's largest manmade waterfalls.Is the USS New York built with World Trade Center steel? ›
The U.S. Navy's USS New York, an instrument of freedom and peace, was commissioned Nov. 7, 2009 in New York City. Cutting through the water with a bow forged from 7.5 tons of World Trade Center steel, the USS New York carries much more than just the name of the Big Apple wherever it travels.When did the twin towers get built? › How hot is a fire in a building? ›
Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin. Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.When did 911 happen? › How deep were the foundations of the Twin Towers? ›
The foundation of the Twin Towers rested directly on the rock at a depth of more than 70' below the ground surface. A slurry wall (or diaphragm wall), 3' thick and about 80' deep, was constructed to support the soils surrounding the basements.How big was every floor of the Twin Towers? ›
Each floor was an acre in size, and there was enough concrete in the towers to build a sidewalk from New York City to Washington, D.C. The complex even had its own zip code: 10048. The two towers were surrounded by five other buildings that comprised the WTC complex.How long was the gap between the Twin Towers? ›
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.How many jobs were lost due to 9 11? ›
11 tallied 1,642,988 positions lost. From Sept. 11 through the end of February, job losses totaled 2,523,217, an increase of 54%, or 880,988 jobs, Challenger said. The largest losses were in the transportation industry, where 226,674 jobs were eliminated, and the aerospace/defense sector, where 138,937 jobs were cut.How many jobs were lost in NYC due to 9 11? ›
In New York City as a whole, the attack caused an additional loss of about 143,000 jobs per month over a three-month period beyond the trend in job losses already occurring as a result of the economic recession of 2001.
While the global economic slowdown developed recessionary trends, it also had its fall-out on the oil market. Demand dropped to a nine-year low, which in turn caused prices to fall by 20 per cent since pre-11 September days.Was the air in 911 toxic? ›
The dust from the collapsed towers was "wildly toxic", according to air pollution expert and University of California Davis Professor Emeritus Thomas Cahill. Much of the thousands of tons of debris resulting from the collapse of the Twin Towers was pulverized concrete, which is known to cause silicosis upon inhalation.What is the lung disease caused by 9 11? ›
Hundreds of people caught in the 9/11 dust cloud have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis to date, with the likelihood that more cases will occur. Another medical condition caused by asbestos exposure is asbestosis, a chronic lung disease that scars the lung tissue.What happened on 9 11 and why is it important? ›
September 11 attacks • September 11 attacks, also called 9/11 attacks, series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed in 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda against targets in the United States, the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil in U.S. history.How many people died in 911? › Where did the planes crash on 911? ›
Nineteen terrorists from al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airplanes, deliberately crashing two of the planes into the upper floors of the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center complex and a third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.Why was 9 11 a turning point in US history? ›
September 11, 2001 thrust the United States into a new era: the War on Terror. The attack was not a bolt from the blue; it sprang from a destabilized Afghanistan and the rise of Al-Qaeda. The day proved a stunning turning point, triggering the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and, later, Iraq.Is the new World Trade Center taller than the Empire State Building? ›
The new One World Trade Center began construction in 2006; in April 2012 it surpassed the Empire State Building to become the city's tallest.Are they demolishing Twin Towers? ›
Now both the towers are demolished and we had paid the demolition cost of Rs 17.5 crore to the agencies involved in the demolition as per Supreme Court," he said. The twin towers were brought to rubble on August 28 after Supreme Court ordered the demolition last year.How many floors is the new World Trade Center? ›
The building is 1,776 feet and 104 stories tall, with office space on floors 20 through 98. It includes 3 million square feet of rentable office space, according to the World Trade Center's official website.
A World Trade Center is an apolitical organization that can be located in any country. It supplies businesses with access to international trade services and facilities and seeks to simplify and stimulate trade by bringing together the offices of government and industry that serve and carry on trade.Who owns the Empire State Building? ›
ESRT owns the iconic Empire State Building – “the World's Most Famous Building” – and the newly reimagined Empire State Building Observatory that was named #1 attraction in the US, and #3 in the world, in Tripadvisor's 2022 Travelers' Choice Awards: Best of the Best.Is the Rockefeller taller than Empire State? ›
Slightly lower than the Empire State Building observation deck, the deck at Top of the Rock is 800-feet above ground. The building is located further north in Manhattan, so offers better views of Central Park.Which is better Top of the Rock or Empire State? ›
If you prefer the classic, historical experience, you must opt for the Empire State Building. Besides the observatories, the building offers the visitors a lot of historical exhibits about the building. If you plan to visit during the sunset hours, we recommend Top of the Rock because it won't be as crowded as ESB.What is the actual cost of twin tower? ›
Actual cost of Twin Tower
The actual construction cost of Noida Twin Tower was Rs 933 per sq feet aggregating to a total of Rs 70 crores.
The Noida Supertech twin towers, which are going to be demolished on Sunday (August 28), took Rs 933 per square feet (sq ft) in construction costs and have a total built-up area of 7.5 lakh sq ft, which aggregates up to a total of Rs 70 crore.Is One World Trade Center the tallest building in the US? ›
Standing as a shining beacon for the new Downtown, and a bold addition to the skyline, One World Trade Center is safe, sustainable, and artistically dynamic. Soaring to a symbolic 1,776 feet — it is the Western Hemisphere's tallest building, and already an iconic New York landmark.How many basement floors were in the world Trade Center? ›
When the World Trade Center complex was built a generation ago, among the engineering marvels was a seven-level basement and an underground wall called “the bathtub” to keep the Hudson River at bay.Where did the steel from the Twin Towers go? ›
It is estimated that some 200,000 tons of steel collapsed into the ground when the twin towers collapsed. According to an article in the journal Places, by spring of 2002 most of the structural steel had been transported to New Jersey. New York City sold about 175,000 tons of the scrap.Who manages the World Trade Center? ›
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey owns and operates the Oculus/Transportation Hub, Liberty Park, and other public open space and infrastructure on site. We also work closely with our stakeholders, tenants, and business partners, who run commercial and institutional portions of the campus.