The Towers' History
Origins of the World Trade Center and the World's Tallest Buildings
The origins of the World Trade Center extend back to 1946, when the New York Legislature created the World Trade Corporation with a view to creating a trade center in Manhattan. The history is recounted in greater detail at Great Buildings Online.
The Port Authority chose as the site for the WTC in 1962 the block bounded by West, Church, Liberty, and Vesey Streets, and selected architect Minoru Yamasaki to design the project. At Yamasaki's request, Worthington, Skilling, Helle and Jackson was selected as the engineering firm, and Yamasaki worked closely with its engineers John Skilling and Leslie Robertson. The architectural firm Emery Roth & Sons handled production work. 1
The site MASTER PLAN from 1963, though detailed, was modified in some respects prior to implementation. In particular, the final configuration of the low-rise buildings WTC 4, 5, and 6 was different than shown in the MASTER PLAN.
|The Twin Towers in the mid-1970s, before the construction of WTC 3.|
Construction began in 1966. WTC 1, the North Tower, rose ahead of WTC 2. Although not completed until 1972, lower floors were ready for their first tenants in late 1970. WTC 2, the South Tower, was finished in 1973. Of the more than 10,000 workers involved in building the complex, eight died in construction accidents. 2
The towers were dedicated on April 4th, 1973. The owners initially had difficulty finding tenants to fill the enormous towers, which had over 8 million square feet of floor space. Most of the North Tower was still unoccupied when a serious fire broke out in February of 1975.
The 110-story Twin Towers, rising 1,368 and 1,362 feet, remained the world's tallest and largest buildings until they were surpassed by the Sears Tower in 1974.
With the exception of WTC 7 and WTC 5, the World Trade Center was controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) until being leased to private interests six weeks before the 9/11/01 attack. WTC 3, originally the Vista Hotel, was purchased by the PANYNJ in 1980 for $78 million. Then, in 1996 the PANYNJ sold the Vista to Marriott for $141 million. 3
2. Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center,
3. Divided We Stand, Basic Books, 1999, page 153