- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

The World Trade Center, created as "a living symbol of man's dedication to world peace," was the most valuable commercial property in the history of New York until terrorist attacks reduced it to rubble yesterday.
An unknown number of the estimated 50,000 employees and 140,000 visitors to the center's 430 businesses died in the disaster, which was caused by two U.S. domestic jetliners flying into the 110-story towers just before and after 9 a.m.
Within 90 minutes, both of the 110-story "twin towers" collapsed with a deafening roar amid clouds of metal and concrete.
The twin buildings towered over lower Manhattan and for nearly three decades were an icon of New York's financial power.
But their shadow stretched beyond the financial reach of the city.
"It symbolizes modern architecture in the 20th century," said Wendy Evans Joseph, chairman of the American Institute of Architects Committee on Design. "It is a symbol of New York."
American architects Minoru Yamasaki and Emery Roth designed the World Trade Center, which took seven years to build and eventually became one of New York's best-known landmarks, rivaling the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
Tenants in the complex included Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., U.S. Customs, the New York Board of Trade, Oppenheimer Funds, Empire Blue Cross, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse First Boston, an 800-room Marriott Hotel and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The center already had survived a terrorist attack — in 1993, a bomb ripped through five levels of the center's basement, causing failures in major utility systems. Six persons died and more than 1,000 suffered smoke inhalation.
"In the final analysis, the terrorist bomb tore out the guts and nervous system of the World Trade Center but couldn't damage its heart," Mark Marchese, the now-retired director of media relations for the Port Authority, wrote later that year.
Six Islamic militants were convicted in the 1993 bombing and sentenced to life behind bars. There was speculation yesterday that similar groups were responsible for the attack yesterday.
The World Trade Center was the inspiration of former New York Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller and his brother, David, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank. It was built as part of a massive urban renewal project of Lower Manhattan in the 1960s.
Mr. Yamasaki, the chief architect, also had an expansive vision for the massive structure.
"World trade means world peace, and consequently the World Trade Center is a living symbol of man's dedication to world peace," Mr. Yamasaki once said.
The center should "become a representation of man's belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and through cooperation, his ability to find greatness," he said.
The World Trade Center, with 43,000 windows, nearly 200 elevators, an observation deck, the "Windows on the World" restaurant and 10 million square feet of office and retail space, opened in 1970 after costing more than $1 billion to build.
Until 1974, its twin towers — one 1,368 feet high, the other 1,362 feet high — were the world's tallest buildings, until the Sears Tower was completed in Chicago.
In addition to the twin towers, the complex had a 47-story office building and has two nine-story office properties.
In July, the towers were leased in a record-setting $3.2 billion real estate deal with private investors.
"This is a dream come true," New York developer Larry Silverstein said after his deal to lease the center for 99 years with Los Angeles-based shopping center developer Westfield America and investor Lloyd Goldman was cinched.
Mr. Silverstein said he had dreamed of owning the World Trade Center since his company, Silverstein Properties, moved into 7 World Trade Center years ago. That building collapsed yesterday.
"We will be in control of a prized asset. There is nothing like it in the world," Mr. Silverstein said of the towers.
Yesterday, phone calls to Silverstein Property offices went unanswered. A spokesman for Mr. Silverstein told other news outlets that the investor was monitoring the situation but had no further information. Westfield officials weren't available for comment.


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