America Rebuilds II: Return to Ground Zero . The Challenges Ahead | PBS
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America Rebuilds II: Return to Ground Zero
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Steel for the Freedom Tower

Luxembourg Mill

Hot steel for the Freedom Tower rolling out at mill in Luxembourg

Freedom Tower foundation work

Freedom Tower in Progress

Freedom Tower foundation work, 2006

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Watch a pre-9/11 animation of the World Trade Center complex

The Rebuilding Continues

The Rebuilding Continues

7 World Trade Center Construction

The Challenges Ahead

The World Trade Center complex included the twin towers, a hotel and four other office buildings. The towers, the tallest buildings in the world when they were completed in 1973, dominated the Lower Manhattan skyline. On 9/11/01, the thriving 16-acre business community lay in ruins, and 2,749 people lost their lives.

The immediate tasks were to search for survivors, to recover the dead and to clear the site. But another challenge lay ahead: rebuilding.

"On 9/11, the Port Authority lost 84 of our own people, including two dozen people or so that . . . were very, very good friends."

— Frank Lombardi, Chief Engineer, Port Authority

"That was a hard time for all of us. Many of them lost their lives trying to help people, and went back up into the buildings or stayed in the building to try to help people. I said, 'We're all feeling pretty bad, but we've got to do something.' We've got to put the transportation back."

— Tony Cracciolo, Engineer, Port Authority

The World Trade Center PATH train station, which served 67,000 commuters everyday, was crushed under 1.8 million tons of rubble. It began to emerge in January of 2002.

Despite their doubts, Port Authority workers stated that they would re-open the PATH station by the end of 2003. As they raced to meet their goal, groundwork began for the first building to rise from Ground Zero.

New York developer Larry Silverstein had built the original 7 World Trade Center in 1984. Local residents detested the building because it blocked a way to get downtown. They fought for a structure that would reopen the street.

Silverstein, along with his architect, David Childs, realized that they had to re-think the new 7 WTC structure. Their challenge was to quickly design the building in the new, post 9/11 world and make its location acceptable to the people in the area.

For many of the thousands of victims' family members and friends, the importance of building a memorial on the 16-acre site superseded all else. In April 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation launched an international competition to select the memorial design. It received more than 5,000 entries from 64 countries—the largest response to a design competition ever. The winner was a young architect, Michael Arad, whose design incorporated a reflecting pool in each of the twin towers' "footprints." Controversy has surrounded the proposed Memorial, primarily due to anticipated high costs and opposition from some family members who opposed certain design features.

Determination to bring back a vital, yet changed World Trade Center site has fueled the rebuilding efforts of everyone. On November 23, 2003, the temporary PATH station opened, allowing New Jersey's thousands of commuters to return to Manhattan through the former WTC station. The new 7 WTC opened on May 23, 2006. The memorial is scheduled for completion in 2009.

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© 2006 Great Projects Film Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Image credits: Silverstein Properties; Great Projects Film Company | Published on: August 28, 2006