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Editorial: 1 WTC is much, much more than its record height


WTC Credit: (Getty Images)

Nothing is easy for 1 World Trade Center, the building formerly known as the Freedom Tower. Designed to fill the void that was left after terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers, the building has been reconfigured, repositioned and renamed — only to be delayed for months on end while a nasty free-for-all raged over who would pay for what.

Then yesterday, just as the Port Authority was poised to drop the final section of the building’s spire into place, bringing 1 WTC to 1,776 feet, high winds forced a postponement of the ceremony. But never mind.

The tower is a triumph already.

It is sleek and commanding without overwhelming everything else in the neighborhood. And it closes that awful post-9/11 gap in the lower Manhattan skyline.

Like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island nearby, it stands as a gleaming symbol of democracy’s resilience — not only for New Yorkers and other Americans, but for people throughout the world.

Yet even some of the tower’s symbolic claims have been subject to controversy. A question came up last year over whether the 408-foot spire — essentially an antenna — would count as part of the tower’s official height. Without it, the building is neither 1,776 feet tall, nor the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere. As of yesterday, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which arbitrates such issues, listed it at 1,776 feet.

But whatever its official height and name, 1 World Trade Center is still about freedom.

When it opens in 2014 on the World Trade Center site, it will proclaim — by its very presence — that freedom is flourishing and terrorism, as always, is a loser’s game.

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