Opinion: The Twin Towers: more than just Skyscrapers


16 years ago to this day, the Twin Towers in New York City fell. These Towers were more than mere buildings, more than just business centers.

The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace,” said Minoru Yamasaki, the late architect of the first World Trade Center. “[They are] 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.”

New York City luminaries like David Rockefeller envisioned the World Trade Center as the economic linchpin of urban renewal in Lower Manhattan. Opened in 1973, the Towers quickly became the defining feature of the city skyline, living testimony to the city on the Hudson’s role as a center of global trade.

For all the prosperity they brought, however, the Towers did more than strengthen the economy. True to Yamasaki’s words, the World Trade Center, with its emphasis on global partnership for the prosperity of all, really was a representation of “man’s belief in humanity.”

When the Towers came down on September 11, people of 115 countries were among the 2,753 dead according to New York Magazine. The iconic view of New York City, viewable from observation decks in the city’s (and at one point, the world’s) tallest towers, drew an average of 140,000 daily visitors, reported the Guardian.

The Towers, the “United Nations” of commerce in a sense, became a global symbol for world peace, a global symbol for cooperation, as Yamasaki had hoped it would be.

Yamasaki, who passed away in 1986, did not see the ugly attack upon his creation that happened on this day in 2001. The values that he had infused into the Towers were reduced to rubble amongst the carnage of 9/11, another victim in a sea of death. The “living symbol” had seemingly died.

As the world grieved, however, something happened. Yamasaki’s ideals, struck down by violence, rose again – first in spirit, as the world reaffirmed its commitment to human dignity, cooperation, and peace for all in the face of those who hoped to destroy those ideas forever, and then in body, as One World Trade Center.

That a building consecrated in the same ideals that manifested themselves in the Towers would be constructed where its predecessor once stood is more than an example of the human spirit’s resilience.

To recover from a tragedy of immeasurable proportions without capitulating to those who impose their worldview on others through terror is bravery enough. To construct yet another monument to the ideals struck down once before is dedication. In Yamasaki’s words, our “living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace” lives on, 16 years later.

[Remixed] image “Height Comparison of New York Skyscrapers” by Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0