The 9/II Project: Part I
The Building & Life Of The World Trade Center
By Staff Writer, Brian E. Clark
I’ll warn everyone now, this story, it’s a long one. It has to be, because, to understand 9/11 properly, a timeline was laid through history, and we deserve to understand it. No fake news here! And we won’t hold back information either. The victims of September 11th, the victims of the 1993 Bombing, and every attack in between deserve for the story to be told, properly. We find ourselves in a very different world since the inception of the World Trade Center, and we can only prepare for the future, by understanding the past.
|Brian Clark, Staff Writer|
I’ll come right out and say it to just get it out there immediately, I am completely enamored by the World Trade Center. Not the new one, though it’s nice. No, the old one. Rather, the old two. Rather, the old seven. I grew up in Middletown, Connecticut, and like it seems for most people in Connecticut; Either you’re a fan of Boston or New York. I was always sided with New York. And as it goes, usually your sports affiliations go with you as well. Well, maybe not so much, for me. I wasn’t into sports that much, but if I was asked, I was prepared to draw blood over the Yankees, and the Giants. It just came with the territory.
I’m 38 years old right now, so that puts the Golden Age of the World Trade Center right smack in the middle of my formative years, and I loved them since first I saw them at 5 years old. They were the sexiest thing I ever saw! Sexy, that is, for a 5-year-old kid, I suppose. Two, square steel buildings that rose 1,377 Feet to the Heavens above, telling the rest of the World, that America does it right. America does it BIG! Flash forward to the afternoon of September 11, 2001; I was standing in the grave of my childhood adoration, up to my knees in her debris, a very, very young Firefighter/ EMT of 22 years old, not knowing the events from that moment on, for the next 3 days would be the turning point of my entire life.
You don’t talk about something you love by talking about its death, first. My intention of this Project was first to be informative; The first part being about the planning, construction, & life of the Trade Center (Including the Bombing of 1993). Secondly, to be educational; With my story, about what I experienced at the World Trade Center site, and to talk to survivors and families of victims at the 9/11 Memorial on September 11th. And lastly, to talk about the Reconstruction, and Memorial, and speculate on the future of the site. I feel this first part has become important because the World Trade Center lived in a very dynamic time. It was born during the Baby Boomer’s, lived among the Generation X’ers, and is only seen in Movies among Millennials. The memory of the birth of the buildings we knew as the “Twin Towers” is in jeopardy.
PLANNING and DEVELOPMENT
|Original Site Plan For The WTC|
The idea of building a World Trade Center was thought of 4 years before my Mother was born; 1943. The New York State Legislature passed a bill authorizing New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey to begin developing plans for the project. World War II put plans on hold until 1949. To help stimulate urban renewal in Lower Manhattan, David Rockefeller, a prominent businessman from J.P. Morgan Chase, suggested that the Port Authority build a World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. Rockefeller announced the Billion Dollar Plan. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, David’s brother, pushed hard for the project, insisting it would benefit the entire city.
The Port Authority of New York, & New Jersey was founded in 1921 to manage any Terminal or Transportation Hub within 25 miles of the Statue of Liberty. Director Austin J. Tobin spearheaded WTC in 1961. The original plan was for the East Side Of Manhattan. However, after negotiations stalled with the outgoing N.J. Governor Robert Meyner, Tobin met with newly elected Governor Richard Hughes and made a proposal to shift the location to the West Side, where the Hudson Terminal was located, and the Port Authority agreed to take over the bankrupt Hudson & Manhattan Railroad as part of the deal. The Port Authority renamed the Railroad, Port Authority Trans- Hudson, or PATH.
|Original Model, On Display At 9/11 Museum|
It would be an understatement to say that this new plan was mired in controversy. As is always the case in New York City, the space that the World Trade Center would someday occupy, was inhabited by what was known then as, Radio Row. It was store after store that either sold, or repaired electronics, and in no short order, David Rockefeller, with help from his Brother, Governor Nelson Rockefeller, took, by eminent domain, each store, and building, paying $3000 to each owner, with no regard to how long the business had been there, or how successful it was. In June 1962, a group representing 325 Shops, and 100 Residents, filed an injunction, challenging the Port Authority’s right of eminent domain. Though it made it all the way to the New York Supreme Court, the court upheld the Port Authority’s right of eminent domain, stating the project had a “public purpose”. Under N.Y. State Law, the Port Authority relocating the businesses, though many business owners called the help as inadequate. Questions continued as the World Trade Center was constructed as whether the Port Authority should have taken on the project, described by some as a “mistaken social priority”.
On September 20, 1962, the Port Authority announced the selection of Minoru Yamasaki as lead architect and Emery Roth & Sons as associate architects. The World Trade Center was planned to revitalize Lower Manhattan and represent a new and improved free world after World War II. Originally, Yamasaki submitted to the Port Authority a concept incorporating twin towers, but with each building only 80 stories tall. The Port Authority had a requirement to build 10 Million Square Feet of office space, thus requiring the buildings to be 110 Stories. Yamasaki went back to work, and on January 18, 1964, with an eight-foot model. The towers had a square plan, 208 feet on each side, and incorporating building methods not yet used in America.
BUILDING and CONSTRUCTION
|The Original Slurry Wall (East Side)|
There were difficulties from the start. The builders and designers were left to figure out how to dig a foundation 70 feet deep, and not have the Hudson River come flooding in. To prevent this from happening, a “Trench/ Slurry” method was employed, where a trench was dug down 70 Feet to bedrock, and a Bentonite slurry was pumped in as they went. The slurry was denser than the surrounding mud, & rock, thus preventing the trench from caving in. 25-ton cages of rebar were then lowered in, and the concrete was pumped in. The concrete was heavier than the slurry and displaced it as it went. As the wall was revealed, workers drilled holes, inserting ties that were anchored in on the opposite side bedrock, bracing the wall against external pressure. Ultimately, a 16-acre site, dug down 70 feet, bounded by Vesey, Church, Liberty, and West Streets. 1 million cubic yards of dirt was removed from the site, and placed in the Hudson River adjacent from the site, creating 23 acres of new land. One issue that presented itself, was the new PATH Train line, coming in from New Jersey crossed right through the site, had to be excavated around, and supported. Service was not disturbed during construction. These remained in use until 1971, when as part of the project, new PATH tubes were built.
|Original System Design|
The design of the Twin Towers is often called a "tube within a tube," referring to the fact that all of the weight of the building was supported by the external walls and an internal column. The external walls supported not only the weight of the Interior floors but also pressure from the wind. The design that called for the exterior to be perforated by 18-inch openings for the windows, allowed the buildings to shift to accommodate the pressure from the wind, from the windward side to the leeward side. Just inside the walls, at approximately 10,000 locations throughout each tower, Visco elastic dampers were installed. These were basically large shock absorbers that could bend with wind pressure and then return to their original form. It was the first time this technology had ever been used in a high-rise. In all, 200,000 tons of super-strong steel (which had just recently become available in 1968) was used to create the two towers.
|Kangaroo Cranes From Australia|
The floors that flowed between the supporting walls and interior columns were made from 0.5-inch thick steel slabs covered in 4 inches of lightweight concrete. Overall, 425,000 cubic yards (324935.8 cubic meters) of concrete were poured, & 43,600 windows were installed. The floors supported their own weight, as well as “live loads”, provided lateral stability to the exterior walls, and distributed wind loads to the exterior walls. A grid of lightweight bridging trusses and main trusses supported the floors. The trusses had a span of 60 Feet in the long span, and 35 feet in the short span. The trusses were connected to the perimeter at alternate columns. Sprayed Fire- Resistant Materials (SFRM’s) were applied to the trusses and beams. Though there were previous fires in the World Trade Center, it is the trusses of the floors, that when exposed to the heat of the jet fuel burning on September 11th, failed, was the cause of the collapse. Though the South Tower was hit second, because the impact was so much lower than the North Tower’s impact site, the extreme weight of the South Tower, though hit second, collapsed first.
|Each Piece Fabricated As Needed|
The World Trade Center redefined how high rises were built, in so many ways. However, one obstacle that still amazes me to this day, is the builders did not have the space on site to store the pieces of the towers. It was groundbreaking that in the late 60’s, early 70’s, a type of Computer Aided Drafting was used to manufacture each piece as it was needed to be installed. Also, because of the new design of having an inner structural support system, it allowed for a new crane system; A “kangaroo” crane, imported from Australia, which allowed the crane to raise itself 36 feet at a time. This enabled workers to average 3 Floors every 10 days.
An additional feature, because of their enormous height, the structural engineers considered that an aircraft could crash into the building. In 1945, a B-25 Bomber that was lost in fog crashed into the 79th and 80th floors of the Empire State Building. A year later, another airplane crashed into 40 Wall Street, and there was another close call at the Empire State Building. In the design of the World Trade Center, designer Leslie Robertson considered that a Boeing 707 (Not nearly as large as a 767, but one of the largest passenger aircraft at the time), could crash into the towers, searching for JFK, or LaGuardia lost in the fog. The study did not consider the amount of jet fuel burning in the key structural areas of the buildings.
The World Trade Center was no stranger to tragedy when they collapsed on September 11th. During their construction, 60 Workers in total were killed, from various accidents. On February 13, 1975, a fire, set by a custodian turned arsonist, started on the 11th floor and spread to limited portions of six other floors, burning for three hours. Several fire suppression systems that were later installed in the towers were not present at the time, including sprinklers, elevator shaft dampers, and electrical system fireproofing. Also, the bombing that was set off by Radical Jihadists on February 26th, 1993, killed 6 people and injured 1200 others.
The bombing in 1993, surprisingly, was not planned by Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden had yet to become a key player. The attack was conceived by Ramzi Yousef, a radicalized Muslim, who was trained in a terrorist training camp in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1991. He flew to the United States in September 1992, with Ahmad Ajaj, a Palestinian from the West Bank. Upon landing at JFK airport, Ajaj was detained by immigration authorities, as he presented a blatantly counterfeit Swedish passport. Yousef, who claimed to be Iraqi, immediately asked for political asylum and was also briefly detained. Due to overcrowding in INS's holding cells were overcrowded, Yousef was released pending an asylum hearing. As soon as he was released, he made contact with radicalized Muslim’s at the Al-Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn, where he designed the bomb detonated on February 26, 1993, on the B-2 Level of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Ramzi Yousef and a Jordanian friend, Eyad Ismoil, drove a yellow Ryder van into Lower Manhattan and pulled into the public parking garage beneath the World Trade Center around noon. They parked on the underground B-2 level. Yousef ignited the 20-foot fuse and fled. Twelve minutes later, at 12:17:37 p.m., the truck bomb detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 1,336 pounds (606 kg) urea nitrate–hydrogen gas enhanced device was intended to send the North Tower (Tower 1) crashing into the South Tower (Tower 2), bringing both towers down and killing tens of thousands of people. It killed 6 and injured 1200. The Trade Center was repaired and back open in under a month.
|The B-2 Level After The Bombing|
While combing through the rubble in the underground parking area, a bomb technician located some internal component fragments from the vehicle that delivered the bomb. A vehicle identification number (VIN), found on a piece from an axle, gave investigators crucial information that led them to a Ryder truck rental outlet in Jersey City. Investigators determined that the vehicle had been rented by Mohammed A. Salameh, one of Yousef's co-conspirators. Salameh had reported the van stolen, and when he returned on March 4, 1993, to get his deposit back, authorities arrested him.
In March 1994, four men were convicted of carrying out the bombing: Abouhalima, Ajaj, Ayyad, and Salameh. The charges included conspiracy, explosive destruction of property, and interstate transportation of explosives. In November 1997, two more were convicted: Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the bombings, and Eyad Ismoil, who drove the truck carrying the bomb. When Ramzi Yousef was arrested, and confronted with the news he already knew, that his plan did not work; That the Trade Center was still standing, he looked at every law enforcement officer present, and stated: “We will bring down your buildings.” How right he was. Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the “mastermind” behind the 9/11 attacks, is Yousef’s uncle.
It was only 7 ½ years from the 1993 Bombing to September 11th,2001. The United States was attacked 3 Different times and considered Al Qaeda such a dangerous organization, that they assigned the CIA & FBI, their own station to track Al Qaeda, and supposedly stop Osama Bin Laden. The 9/11 Commission found out, after 9/11, that the Clinton Administration had 9 opportunities to take out Osama Bin Laden, and never took them. It’s thought in some circles, mostly Ex-CIA, that our inaction to take down Al Qaeda in response to any of the 3 Attacks between 1993-2001, only emboldened them to commit the murderous acts of 9/11.
I’m afraid to say that Part 1 has come to an end. Part 2 will be exclusively on 9/11, as we, The Middletown Insider, for the first time ever, go out of Middletown, to New York, to cover the Remembrance Ceremony at Ground Zero. We will bring back stories of Survivors, the Families of those that perished, and the First Responders. One of those stories includes my own, as a Firefighter/ EMT that responded to New York on September 11, 2001. As part of this article, however, I’d like to print the names of those killed in the Bombing on February 26, 1993, because though they aren’t mentioned, deserve our memory as well as everyone killed on 9/11. Please, as you read these names, take a moment of silence, and offer a prayer for these people (If you choose to):
• John DiGiovanni, age 45, a dental products salesperson.
• Robert (Bob) Kirkpatrick, age 61, Senior Structural Maintenance Supervisor.
• Stephen Knapp, age 47, Chief Maintenance Supervisor, Mechanical Section.
• Bill Macko, age 57, General Maintenance Supervisor, Mechanical Section.• Wilfredo Mercado, age 37, a receiving agent for Windows on the World restaurant
|The Feb. '93 Victims Names On the 9/11 Memorial|
• Monica Rodriguez Smith age 36, a secretary, who was seven months pregnant.
Thank you for reading.
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