One World Trade Center, the 1,776-foot-tall skyscraper and symbol of rebirth more than 13 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, opened Monday, with the first 200 office employees reporting to work.

Chuck Townsend, chief executive of Condé Nast, the building's primary tenant, rolled up in a silver Mercedes-Benz and told reporters, "Today is a special day."

The building, which is just a few hundred feet from where the Twin Towers stood before they were destroyed by two commercial airliners hijacked by terrorists, took eight years to build at a cost of $3.9 billion. It includes a dedicated stairway for use by firefighters and elevators housed in a "protected central building core," according to the Port Authority's website.

Despite initial concerns about whether people would work in a high-rise at Ground Zero, building officials Monday said it's more than half full with new tenants.

Condé Nast has rented nearly 1.2 million square feet of space between the 20th and 44th floors.

"The New York City skyline is whole again," said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, which owns the building and the World Trade Center site. Foye said the building is "the most secure office building in America."

Inside the 62-foot-tall lobby of white marble walls, office workers swipe their identification cards through a turnstile that automatically registers their floor to the elevator.

"This is the smartest, most energy-efficient building there is -- I call it an A-plus building with elevators that take you to the roof within 60 seconds," said Steven Plate, director of World Trade Center construction at the Port Authority.

Plate said Monday's milestone moment was "an emotional day. We were here since day one pouring in foundations to make this the strongest building in the world."

At least a dozen security guards dressed in dark suits and wearing embossed ties with the building's blue silhouette logo of the tower's spire manned the lobby's concierge desk, where visitors check in and have their bags screened.

Jordan Barowitz of the Durst Organization, which manages and leases office space for the fortresslike high-rise with panoramic views of New York Harbor and the city, said the building is nearly 60 percent rented. More tenants are expected to sign leases at the end of the month, he said.

One World Trade Center's observatory floor is expected to bring in 20 percent of the building's "cash flow," he said.

The rooftop observatory is expected to draw thousands of tourists who will ride in high-speed elevators to the 102nd floor, where there will be a restaurant and a media show on the building's construction.

The observatory is scheduled to open next year.

With Bloomberg News

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