The World Trade Center
The World Trade Center was conceived in the early 1960's by David Rockefeller as a way to revitalize the dying downtown business district where he, coincidentally, owned an extensive amount of property. The para-governmental organization The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began planning in 1962 and despite the community opposition that accompanies any large development in NYC, architect Minoru Yamasaki's plan for two huge bland towers was approved in 1966.
To create the 16-acre site, 5 streets were closed and 164 buildings were siezed by eminent domain and destroyed, including Radio Row, a seedy but lively street of electronics stores. The 1.2 million yards of earth excavated to create the reinforced hole for the foundation ("The Bathtub") were used to fill an area of shoreline on the Hudson River to create Battery Park city. A total of 10,000 people worked on the towers and 60 people died during construction.
The north tower opened in December of 1970. The south tower opened in January of 1972. The complex was dedicated in April 1973. They were briefly the tallest buildings in the world until the Sears Tower in Chicago opened in May 1973. (reference)
On September 11, 2001, American Airlines flight 11 was hijacked and flown into the north tower at 8:45AM. At 9:03AM, United Airlines flight 175 was flown into the south tower. At 9:50AM, the south tower collapsed, followed by the north tower at 10:29.
The resulting fire and debris closed much of lower Manhattan for many weeks. But as the area began to reopen, large crowds wanted to visit the site and the city erected a viewing platform on Fulton street. While all tourist destinations in NYC were affected economically by the 9/11/01 attacks, downtown destinations like the South Street Seaport were especially hard hit. With the erection of the viewing platform, someone came up with the great idea of distributing tickets for the platform at the South Street Seaport. With the tremendous demand for tickets, traffic at the Seaport jumped appreciably as well.
On January 21, 2002, I visited the site and snapped some photos. On July 17, 2004, I revisited the site which had been largely cleared of debris and construction materials. The Port Authority had built a temporary station for the WTC PATH train station that descended to the tracks in the "Bathtub". The temporary pedestrian walkways over the West Street give an especially good view of the area. In it's barren state, the area seems strangely small.