In a lifetime. Rise, fall, rise again.
The Twin Towers rose in my youth. Sometime during 5th or 6th grade, they were completed, dedicated, populated. They took up residence at that spot in my heart previously occupied by the Empire State Building where I childishly believed that America dreams big, plans big, and builds big.
Life magazine, issue dated March 31, 1972, took me back to that space in my youth when the World Trade Center (WTC) was still incomplete, still someone’s dream, still a plan in motion.
Remembering is too interesting. Here is the text in full:
New York City’s World Trade Center is another year or more from completion, and the grounds around it are now still ugly with the paraphernalia of construction. But these photographs, made using the architect’s scale models, show what the massive center will look like in time and suggest some of its superlatives: it is the tallest (110 stories), costliest ($700 million) and most spacious (nine million square feet for rent) office complex on earth. It is also a fright to many critics who worry about straining the Wall Street area’s already overloaded electrical, communication, and transportation facilities with another 50,000 employees and 80,000 visitors daily. In his handling of the project’s sheer mass, however, architect Minoru Yamasaki conceived some notably graceful solutions — particularly at ground level. The complex will emphasize open spaces and maximum exposure to sunlight. At its center is a huge plaza (seen at center above and as the background photograph on these pages) that is bigger than St. Mark’s Square in Venice. It will include five acres of flowers, fountains, sculptures and trees. To see what the Trade Center has done to the New York skyline, turn the page.Two tall towers for world trade. (1972, March 31). Life.
Large buildings are inorganic structures that require infrastructure and complicated systems to support a populace not distributed across a land mass but concentrated vertically. Skyscrapers are efficient. Essentially, the infrastructure — heating and cooling, water supply, electricity, communications, waste management — needs to support the population of a mid-size city.
And for 28 years, the Twin Towers came alive and lived and breathed and supported. And they were infused into my understanding of America. Big plans, big buildings, we get ‘er done.
I recently made my first trip to New York City with Mr. Viva and in our itinerary was the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the Twin Towers.
I did not make it to New York when the towers were there. Those two cities reaching to the sky were demolished by terrorists. The towers fell. People died. The memorials are appropriately two big holes left by the towers’ footprints.
And there is a hole left at that spot in my heart, too. We are not unique because we build big dreams from big plans. Someone else’s big dreams and big plans killed ours.
I can’t leave on a low note.
As part of the rebuild of the World Trade Center complex, the One World Trade Center building surpassed the height of the Empire State Building on April 20, 2012.
On a windy day, tall buildings sway. Or they sway more. We passed on taking a trip up to the observation deck.
But we’ll be back, too.