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

Keep Building Larry

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Building Freedom Tower

November 2007 Installment of the Monthly Journal 

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

By Dick Sheppard

Friday, November 9, 2007 

Sorry for the long interval between entries, work obviously continues across Lower Manhattan

While there is very little above ground visible progress, all around Lower Manhattan’s many constructions zones, plenty of “under” structure work is aggressively underway, inside Ground Zero, along Church Street from Liberty Street north to Vesey Street, and under Dey Street. Like everyone else with a keen curiosity for seeing above ground structure, I carefully look for progress. The Deutsch Bank building (130 Cedar) demolition remains on hold since the August fire.

WTC PATH access canopy

Six Years

The Sixth Anniversary of 9/11/01 has passed, the first Tuesday anniversary, as 9/11/01 was a Tuesday. It will likely always be a somber day in Lower Manhattan. Zuccotti Park, a plaza between Broadway and Trinity Place, and Cedar Street and Liberty, hosted the commemoration. Some 9/11 Family members would’ve preferred the commemoration remain inside the confines of the WTC complex, but construction and just plain dust and dirt at the WTC site dictated the move. Some family members did descend the long ramp into the site, at the bottom of which a small temporary memorial became covered with flowers and tears.

Unlike last year’s Fifth Anniversary, crowds were lighter. There were, and likely always will be, a gaggle of perhaps a few hundred “9/11” conspiracy-mongers who believe anyone but the actual people who flew the planes into the building did the dastardly deed. Their notions are their right, and we’re all entitled to mistaken notions as long as we keep open minds. They’re minds are irrevocable, but they were peaceable. The overall tone walking around the entire site was somber and normal. People going about their business, realizing it’s been six years (!) since the thousands lost their lives as the towers fell. How many consider something just as deadly might happen again?

Not a pleasant thought, but we can never know until it happens or doesn’t happen. The Tribute in Light, the two piercing beans which shine up into space were alight, at least for one evening, reminding all of the majesty and power of Lower Manhattan. Still among the financial capitals of the planet.

At Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower site - left concrete wall is Fulton St. under-structure right smaller wall is PATH Vesey Street access

On the west side of the site, where Freedom Tower and the Memorial will exist, the major activity in the past month has been the build-up of what will become Fulton Street. Fulton Street will enter the east border of the WTC site from Church Street, and cut through west, skirting just south of the Freedom Tower. Untold amounts of concrete have been poured onto rebar, and into temporary braces and supports for the walls and floors of the Fulton Street understructure. As this takes place just alongside at the Freedom Tower footprint, more Freedom Tower understructure is taking shape as well. Though there is no new structural steel rising, nonetheless plenty of Freedom Tower’s core lower levels are being installed. Just east of Freedom Tower, the steel structure which will be the final temporary PATH access onto Vesey Street is nearly enclosed.

At the Memorial site, which is generally the southwest section of the WTC, all of the concrete footings which were anchored into the bedrock have been backfilled, and the area remains essentially flat, with no visible Memorial structures rising.

The Vesey Street PATH access is at least several weeks - if not longer - from completion. And there’s news that the permanent wing-like Salvatore Calatrava station is now behind schedule by about two years. The scheduled opening was 2009, that date has been moved into 2011. No reason provided, at the site where the Calatrava station will arise, there is a very large deep pit. Yet the present Church Street PATH access is in the way of all northeast WTC construction.

The Eastern Bathtub


Tower 4 foundation SE corner of WTC site. Wall at lower left is bathtub wall.

At the intersection of Liberty and Church Street/Trinity Place, where about 7-8 months ago steel rebar cages were being lowered into the ground to form the “bathtub” wall, the areas behind those walls has been dug out, and those walls are exposed. The ever-evolving plan now is too get two of the Church Street towers, Tower 4, which will be right at the corner of Church Street and Liberty, and Tower 3 just north, underway. These will be built ahead of Tower 2 which will arise further north on Church Street and Vesey Street. It looks like they’ve finished installing the rebar cages for that north part of the eastern bathtub, but haven’t started digging out the site, except in the approximate areas of the Calatrava PATH station. Soon, essentially, the eastern bathtub is going to be like the western bathtub – a large, deep hole in the ground from which buildings will rise.

Fulton Transit Hub/Dey Street Pedestrian Passage

     Looking west understreet work at Dey Street Head-House

Just as most of the WTC is now nearly ready for actual building with foundation understructure coming out of the bedrock, the Fulton Transit site is a vast, plywood enclosed construction site. A tall foundation drilling rig was at work on the east side of Broadway between Fulton and John Street, but apparently has finished it’s work and been removed. I don’t have the same, “bird’s eye” view of the Fulton Transit Hub as I enjoy of the WTC site, so I can only report that they are digging out the foundation of the Fulton Hub, a large hole in the ground prepatory to building above.

On Dey Street and Broadway, they are really exposing the understructure of what will be the east end of the Dey Street understreet pedestrian passage. Here you can see that what will become a “head-house” on the southwest corner of Dey and Broadway will soon be rising. A “head house” is a rail-roaders term for a street-level subway access structure.

This is going to be finished well before the Fulton Hub across Broadway. In fact, the Dey Street passage will likely be completed well before the Fulton Hub, and will access the Dey Street head house. The passage under Dey from Church is only going to be narrow for a very short portion at the western end of Dey Street. As it gets closer to Broadway, there will be a large under-street plaza which will feed pedestrians into the Dey Street head-house and to the subways under Broadway and beyond.


Looking east on Dey St. towards Broadway understreet passage work. At this point passage will widen out into an under-street plaza.

There is a renewed amount of activity all along Dey Street from Broadway to Church Street, under which the passage will run. More construction workers, more scenes of cranes hoisting steel bins of the dirt dug out for the passage. Cement being poured through funnels leading under the street. The entire front of the Millennium Hilton on Church between Dey and Fulton is ripped up as they build out what will be the connection between the Calatrava PATH station and the Dey Street passage.

                    Concrete pouring on Dey Street

Church Street in front of Century 21 department store is also laid open for understreet work. All of this is to accommodate the new Cortlandt Street station for the N/R trains. I think they want to get this understreet passage done, it will help alleviate the crazy traffic and pedestrian patterns all along Church from Liberty at the south end of the WTC site, to Vesey at the North. The cars zoom north on Church Street, just two lanes, pedestrians overflow from the sidewalks which are often just lanes of Church Street denied to cars with large wooden fences.


View south on Church Street at Century 21 - under-street work on Cortlandt N-R station

Deutsch Bank/130 Liberty Street

     Still idle crane at 130 Liberty Deutsche Bank building

No activity on this forlorn site since the August, 2007 fire a few months back. Occasionally one glimpses a few workers on some of the lower floors, but hardly ever on the roof. The large tower crane resumes it’s role as a weather vane, swinging slowly to-n-fro in the wind.

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