As a boy, I watched the Twin Towers rise into the sky as we played in the swamps of Brooklyn. When Dino De Laurentiis asked New Yorkers to become part of the crowd gawking as his King Kong died at the bottom of those iconic towers, (and cementing the idea that they, not the Empire State Building, were the new pinnacle of the city), I was in the crowd.
Later on in life when I worked on Wall Street, I had lunch nearly every day with my girlfriend sitting on the benches surrounding the water feature around Fritz Koenig’s bronze “Sphere.” I used to love standing between the towers, looking up, noticing how they seemed to bend towards each other above me. It is hard to express how seminal they were to New York’s skyline and to everyone who lived there, regardless of their borough.
They had a tough birth. New York City was at a low point when they were being constructed. It was the city portrayed in Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” The city was going broke; crime was rampant and after completion, vacancy rates were high. Two years after they were built, the city almost went bankrupt. When city leaders approached the Federal Government to bail the city out, President Ford put the brakes on that idea excoriating them for their “addiction to spending.”
As time went on, though, they proved to be the start of a new boom and by the 1980’s, the city roared back to life. The towers were a photographer’s dream and appeared everywhere in advertising. They were New York City.
And then they were gone.
When I first heard the news, I honestly didn’t believe it. Anyone who walked in their shadows or perused the wide open lobbies knew exactly how BIG they were. My first thought was that it was impossible. They’re too big; they could never fall. Flashes of the attack in 1993 came to me. They tried before, I thought, they failed. To this day, I cannot accept that they are gone forever.
Later, someone did campaign to rebuild the towers with an adherence towards the original design: Donald Trump. In true Trump fashion, he wanted them to be taller than the original. Say what you will about the man, but he truly had “the best ideas” when it came to rebuilding New York’s signature back into the skyline.
The skyline will never be the same. One World Trade Center is just that: singular, alone.
I hate the idea that some Jihadist when looking at the downtown horizon these days thinks: “they never rebuilt them” — and smiles.
They should have rebuilt them.