On the Town   


 Building Freedom Tower -- The Journal 

Paperbacknovel contributor Dick Sheppard, who works in an office directly overlooking the World Trade Center site, hopes to track progress of the ascent of Freedom Tower, which at 1776 feet will be [more]

For previous journals, see bottom of this page.

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Sept. 11, 2006 and Tribute in Lights

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Rebuilding the World Trade Center
-- "2009 Restart"

February 2009 Installment of the Monthly Journal 

[Read the sidebar, Building Freedom Tower -- The Journal for introduction]

By Dick Sheppard

February 13, 2009 

Reader’s Note: This series on the monumental rebuild of the World Trade Center picks up from my last entry at the end of 2007, a lapse of fourteen months. There’s been a reversal: While making monthly series entries, the job was describing enough progress to report. With so little to report, laxity set in.

Now, fourteen months later, even with changing site timelines and the debacle in the world’s financial and credit markets, there is visual and encouraging progress across the entire sixteen acres of the World Trade Center site. Now the series lags the rebuilding, at last resumed.

My apologies to readers who may look to this series for World Trade Center progress reports,  as there’s much progress to report, and likely to support regular updates, herewith, a “restart” of Rebuilding the World Trade Center. Your forbearance is appreciated.

– Dick Sheppard

A Look back to December, 2007, through 2008

When this series suspended in December of 2007, the pressing issue was the Port Authority’s need to clear the entire east side of the WTC site – the “east bathtub.” This year-end 2007 turn-over would fulfill a contractual obligation with builder Larry Silverstein, so construction could begin on at least two of the three east site Towers which will accompany the domineering Freedom Tower.

The entire east side didn’t have to be cleared -- the temporary Church Street PATH station occupied the center of the east bathtub until well into 2008 -- but the Tower 3 and 4 sites were supposed to “foundation-ready” at year-end 2007. These sites weren’t for several months into 2008, including the need to clear understructure elements from the east side, low-rise buildings of the original World Trade Center.

Picture Story of Dec 2008, Jan 2009

Click on links for picture stories of the site in December 2008 and January 2009.

Click here for picture of overall view of site in January, 2009.

The Port Authority agreed in the mid/latter part of 2008 to pay Larry Silverstein $30 million dollars for delays in preparing the Tower 3 & 4 sites. On the Tower 4 site, at the corner of Liberty and Church Streets, the Tower 4 foundation is underway. Just north, the Tower 3 site looks just as ready for building but nothing underway there. Further north, the temporary Church Street PATH access is gone (with the opening of the Vesey Street access, more below), and the sites of the permanent Calatrava PATH station and its north neighbor Tower 2 site just north look nearly ready to build.

Tower 4 footprint and foundation is seen at bottom of picture, at SouthEast corner of new World Trade Center site. South Tower Memorial is seen at top of picture.

Tower 3 site is seen at bottom of picture (Tower 4 foundation is just to the left in the shadow). At the right edge of picture is site of the future Salvatore Calatrava Path station.

Tower 4 site is seen at lower right of picture, at Northeast corner of site.

Another visual impact is the absence of the long, slanting, foot and vehicular roadway that led into the site from Liberty Street, just east of West Street. That long ramp, which terminated nearly at the southeast corner of the original One World Trade Center north tower, is dismantled to make way for the September 11 Memorial, well underway as described below.

A real “aesthetic/acoustic” benefit of the cleared east side of the World Trade Center site is “quiet.” Prepping the east side included a nearly round-the-clock clamor of backhoe jackhammers gouging out the Manhattan Schist bedrock, shaping the rock for tower footings. Surrounded on several sides by tall buildings, WTC site reverberations of the schist-gouging were at least an annoyance for office workers; and an ongoing nuisance for nearby residents.

The recent financial markets turmoil has likely affected the schedule, although not to an extent of dramatically altering the present master plan. Likely, already late timelines will be pushed back. And in an effort to get the WTC complex generating revenue – any revenue –  there are/were discussions to create, “retail pads” along Church Street. Sort of “stump” building placeholders until the Towers themselves are built. This sort of discussion makes one wonder just how much timelines for completing any Tower/s has slipped.

This series was way ahead of the WTC timeline when presented monthly, now the WTC site is way ahead of the series, and this series needs catching up. “Word.”

The Freedom Tower - Encouraging Progress

Through much of 2008, the Freedom Tower site consisted of the largely concrete core rising inside a line of columns which mark the Freedom Tower footprint/boundary. At highest, it wasn’t quite rising to street level. Lately, however, over the past 3-4 months at the end of 2008 and up until these early 2009 days, steel columns are rising quickly from the Freedom Tower concrete core, reaching nearly 100 feet above street level. This is a little surprising given discussions on slowing Freedom Tower to promote the commercial virtues of Towers 3-4, at first, and then Tower 2. Faster Freedom Tower progress is both visually and emotionally appealing.

After all the planning and re-planning, and re- re- re-planning, there’s no turning back now. With two Freedom Tower cranes working, a decision to push Freedom Tower pushes steel higher. As the Freedom Tower site sits just west of the Vesey PATH access, PATH commuters, including me, can watch the steel rise directly before us as we approach the PATH access coming west down Vesey.

Freedom Tower Steel Rises.

You can see the cement core of Freedom Tower, with steel rising above it.

At the south of the Freedom Site, during 2008, the understructure for Fulton Street is filling in; one of the connecting pedestrian passages from the World Trade Center to the World Financial Center (WFC) will run under Fulton Street, under West Street, and into the WFC. This underground “connector” will replace the large, destroyed, glass and steel pedestrian bridge that ran from between the original World Trade Center North Tower (One World Trade Center) and I think, it was Six World Trade Center. It spanned West Street where it entered the World Financial Center at the east end of the WFC’s dramatic Winter Garden atrium. There is a temporary bridge that runs from the south portion of the WFC over West Street to Liberty, which replaced a smaller original bridge at that site. How/if there will be another WTC/WFC bridge over West hasn’t been discussed or mentioned.

Freedom Tower core and steel is at the top of picture. Memorial for North Tower is at the lower left (composed of dark grey steel sheets). At center you can see 'cut out' for memorial waterfall. In between -- a thick strip of light-grey metal sheets-- is the understructure of what will be Fulton Street.

WTC – September 11 Memorial and Museum Site

More encouraging than Freedom Tower’s rising steel is the striking progress at the National September 11, 2001 Memorial and Museum, taking definable in the WTC site’s southwest quadrant. Fulton Street construction separates the Memorial quadrant from the Freedom Tower construction.

South Tower Memorial at Southwest corner of site. Curved structure is the covering to what will be a tunnel for the PATH trains coming/going from New Jersey. PATH trains currently use the track to enter site, wind around its outer edges, to approach the PATH station, the temporary one which now resides at other end of site by 7 WTC.

2008 Commemoration Moved

The 2008 September 11 commemorations were held outside the WTC site for the first time, at Zuccoti Park, diagonally across from the WTC site corner where Tower 4 will rise. Family members and other considered persons were allowed brief access into the WTC site via the now-removed roadway access. Presidential candidates Barack Obama, and John McCain paid a joint visit down the slanting ramp into “Ground Zero.”

View of World Trade Center site from Zuccoti Park, looking Northwest from Southeast corner of site, on Church Street.

Zuccoti Park at night -- looking Eastward toward Broadway.


The main Memorial feature will be the “footprint waterfalls.” Cascading waterfalls will tumble from street level into large squares outlining the actual and partial footprints of the original “Twin Towers.” On the north footprint, the steel structure is rising noticeably, as are the floor elements, surrounding the “cut out” squares for the waterfalls (see picture above, 6th from top of page). The south footprint construction started later as the slanting access road was removed, but it too is progressing nicely.

During the time of the 2008 September 11 commemoration, public officials and anyone associated with the Memorial expressed a sincere need to complete it for the 2011 commemoration. That’s almost three full years away, and we can hope those three years will bring the Memorial to near if not full completion.

WTC East Site (East Bathtub)

The east side (“east bathtub”) of the World Trade Center site runs along Church Street from Liberty Street at the south end, to Vesey Street at the north. In early 2008, the PATH access located in the east bathtub was dismantled as the Vesey Street PATH access opened. There are still a few remnants of the east bathtub PATH access, but overall, the east bathtub is one gigantic open hole. Dirt fill is moved about, muddy during wet weather. Only occasionally will the clamor of backhoe jackhammers disturb the senses. The PATH access move to Vesey Street creates tremendous pedestrian traffic along Vesey from Church to West Broadway. Vesey Street is one of the few streets to get to the PATH access, but also to continue down to West Street to cross over to the World Financial Center.

Close up of Calatrava section of site, with last remaining rubble of the old WTC site (lower right). Click to enlarge.

Temporary PATH train station at North end of site -- view is looking Southward at site from in front of 7 WTC.

Temporary PATH train station at North end of site. All pedestrian traffic is funneled to the left down Vesey Street to get to/from offices in lower Manhattan

“Chaos Corner”

I’ve dubbed the traffic and pedestrian intersection at Vesey and West Streets, “Chaos Corner,” because along with the bunched up pedestrians using Vesey Street, traffic is constrained along Church Street from Liberty Street north to Vesey Street to two lanes. The left most lane of Church Street has become part of the WTC construction site, a vehicular access road. Vehicles enter at Liberty and Church, do their business, and exist at Church and Vesey. Church and Vesey, that’s where vehicles exit? Yes, in addition to the pedestrian thongs trying to cross Church at Vesey, which necessitate four construction workers flagging traffic as defacto traffic cops, cement trucks, dump trucks, and other construction vehicles roll into the swarming mix of Chaos Corner.

"Chaos corner" -- Vesey and Church Street -- where commuters are funneled to and from temporary PATH Station in front of 7 WTC.

Tower 4 Foundation

Also cheering, at the very corner of Liberty and Church Streets, at the southeast corner of the entire site, the foundation for Tower 4 is underway. Starting this tower jibes with the general desire to get Towers 3-4 built for commercial viability before undertaking the massive Freedom Tower and Tower 2.  Although as mentioned above, Freedom Tower itself is rising seemingly a bit faster than expected, and there were/are talks to creat temporary retailing structures along Church Street, but there’s no definitive word that the construction at the bottom of the Tower 4 site is anything other than a Tower foundation. It will be interesting to see how fast Tower 4 construction takes place. If the desire is to accelerate Tower 4, and then Tower 3, at some point, Tower 4 steel will surpass Freedom Tower’s columns rising diagonally across the entire WTC site.

Next: “Everything else” other Lower Manhattan projects near the WTC rebuilding


Please see picture coverage for January 2009, and also view the additional live video coverage below:



All pictures above were taken with a Casio Exlim EX-S10, except for the top-most video (Freedom Tower Construction -- Overview from Above), which was taken with Sony PC330.

All pictures and video on this page are copyright paperbacknovel.com.


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