It looks like a giant Klingon Bird of Prey has landed in the middle of the World Trade Center. It’s the skeleton of a new railway station, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who says the design is that of a bird being released from a child’s hand. Now, under construction, with welders sparks flying, it looks ominous, but I can see how, minus welders’ sparks, when finished, it could be inviting.
The World Trade Center zone looks like Dubai. Construction cranes swing between impossibly tall buildings. One World Trade Center, The “Freedom Tower,” rises to 1776 feet. This is the second time I have seen this area under massive re-construction. Before the Twin Towers went up the Path Tube delivered us to “Radio Row” near Cortlandt Street. Until 1966 “Radio Row” was loaded with radio parts stores and used electronics emporiums. It was a wonderland for any budding radio hobbyist. It was ripped out in 1966 and before it went all the engineers from WOR, where I was working, cruised Cortlandt and its neighboring streets for radio parts, classic tubes and other things before they were swept away to make room for Minoru Yamasaki’s Twin Towers. I was familiar with Yamasaki because he was the architect of several buildings at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and a life insurance building in Minneapolis that had become a local landmark. I was never too fond of his work. The World Trade Center of the Late 60’s and early 70’s ripped out the streets, disrupted traffic and destroyed neighborhoods.
And, of course the reason it is being built again is the terror attacks of 9/11. Memorials to those attacks are as much a centerpiece of the newly conceived World Trade Center as the “Freedom Tower” and Santiago Calatrava’s big bird. The memorials are large fountain/pools that take up the footprints of the two towers, surrounding the pools is a rail with the name of each victim. Between them is the glass entry to the 9/11 museum. Across the street, St. Paul’s Chapel seems, in some ways, to be the most fitting memorial to the spirit of New York after 9/11 and to those who worked to rescue the victims that September day.