World Trade Center - New York City
9-11 Terrorist Attacks
Suicide aircraft attacks on The World Trade Center and the Pentagon left untold numbers injured or dead and threw the cities into chaos on September 11, 2001. It began at the height of a morning rush hour in the nation's largest city. A plane, reportedly a hijacked American Airlines jet, slammed into one tower of the 110-story World Trade Center. As smoke and flames poured out of the building and rescue workers battled to save victims, a second plane hit the second tower. The two towers soon collapsed. Huge clouds of smoke hung over Manhattan. The nearby Wall Street financial markets were shut down. A short time later, another plane struck the Pentagon, touching off a massive explosion and fire, and tearing a hole in one side of the historic building.
President Bush vowed 'terrorism will not stand' and immediately broke off a visit to Florida to return to Washington. Police and military forces all around the country are on alert. Special anti-terrorist units were mobilized in many cities. The United Nations and the Sears Tower in Chicago were also evacuated.
The Trade Center was the target of another terrorist strike eight years ago, a car bomb that damaged the building and caused casualties but did not bring either of the towers down. The attack on the World Trade Center Tuesday was not the first on the 110-story twin towers. In February 1993, a truck bomb exploded there, killing six people, and displacing business in the complex for six months. Six Islamic militants were convicted in the bombing, and sentenced to life in prison. The attack was meant to pressure the United States to stay out of the Middle East and curb its support of Israel.
Until Tuesday's attack, the most serious case of terrorism in the United States occurred in April of 1995, when a truck bomb exploded at a federal government office building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal murder charges and executed in June. In a more recent terrorist incident, the US-S Cole was refueling in Yemen's port of Aden in October of last year when a small boat pulled alongside it and detonated explosives, killing 17 US servicemen. US authorities suspect Saudi exile Osama bin Laden was responsible for the incident.
In August of 1998, bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people. Osama bin Laden is again blamed. In one of the worst cases of terrorism in the air, 270 people were killed when Pan Am 103 (a Boeing 747) exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on a flight from London to New York in December 1988.
In Saudi Arabia in June 1996, an attack on the US military complex at Khobar Towers killed 19 Americans. Members of a Saudi militant group were indicted for the attack. Seven months earlier, a car bomb detonated at a US military headquarters in Riyadh, killing five American service personnel.
In June 1985, Shiite Muslim gunmen seized a TWA passenger jet, forcing it to Beirut. They demanded the release of 700 Arabs held by Israel. A US navy diver was killed and 39 Americans were held until their release a month later after Syrian mediation. In October of that year, a disabled American Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, was killed by Palestinian militants were had seized the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro. One year earlier, in September 1984, a car bomb at US embassy annex in east Beirut, killed 16 and injured the ambassador. In December 1983, Shiite extremists set off car bombs in front of the US and French embassies in Kuwait City, killing five people and wounding 86. In October of that year, Shiite suicide bombers blew up the French military headquarters and a US marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 marines and 58 French paratroopers. In April 1983, suicide bombers blew up the US embassy in Beirut, killing 17 Americans.
Located in downtown Manhattan, the World Trade Center is on a 16 acre site, stretching from Church Street on the east to West Street on the west, and Vesey and Barclay streets in the north to Liberty Street on the south. Owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a self-supporting agency of the two states, the Center was developed and constructed by the Port Authority to serve as a headquarters for international trade within the bi-state port area. The World Trade Center's North Tower first opened to tenants in December 1970 and the South Tower recieved its first tenant in 1972. By 1992 the Port Authority had invested roughly $1.2 billion into the World Trade Center.
The decision to build the World Trade Center was made in 1961, with the unveiling of the building plans in 1964, the commencement of site excavation in 1966, and the steel construction phase beginning in 1968.
In all the World Trade Center included some seven buildings: One and Two World Trade Center consisted of two 110-story office towers, Seven World Trade Center was a 47-story office building, Four and Five World Trade Center are 9-story office buildings, Six World Trade Center is an 8-story U.S. Custom House, and Three World Trade Center was a 22-story hotel were all constructed around a central five-acre landscaped Plaza. All seven buildings have entrances onto the Plaza as well as onto surrounding city streets. The Mall at the World Trade Center, located immediately below the Plaza was the largest enclosed shopping mall in lower Manhattan, as well as the main interior pedestrian circulation level for the complex, stations for three of New York's subway systems (IRT, IND, BMT) were located below the tower in the Mall.
The two office towers, each rising 1,350 feet, were the tallest buildings in New York City and the 5th and 6th tallest in the world. The Center contained approximately 12 million square feet of office space, including the two million square feet of office space in Seven World Trade Center. In the two tower buildings, each floor was approximately one acre in size, and each tower contained 4.8 million gross square feet of floor area.
Some 50,000 people worked in the World Trade Center. Another 150,000 to 200,000 business and leisure visitors came to the center daily.
More than 200,000 tons of steel were used in the World Trade Center's construction. Construction of the Trade Center used 425,000 cubic yards of concrete. There were 43,600 windows in the two Tower buildings -- over 600,000 square feet of glass. There were 99 elevators, including 23 express elevators in each Tower building. There were five levels below ground including parking for almost 2000 cars.
The existence of "sky lobbies" at the 44 and 78 floors in each Tower thus made each tower essentially three buildings, one on top of another, no regular passenger elevator ran all the way to the top.