The World Trade Center

History of the WTC

In 1960, David Rockefeller, as founder of the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Development Association, was pushing hard to have downtown Manhattan revitalized because he believed the whole of New York would benefit from this project. The association designed the World Trade Center (WTC) and by 1962 plans were in place. In 1966 construction started with the center eventually enveloping 16 acres of land. It was necessary to demolish 164 buildings and close off five city streets while the work was under way. The north tower was completed by December of 1970, and in January of 1972 the south tower was opened. The towers were the fifth and sixth tallest buildings worldwide at that time. Once dominated by electronic stores, the former run-down street was now a vital component of New York. A vivid memory for many, the attacks on the WTC on September 11, 2001 have had long lasting effects.

Aftermath of the Attacks

For thousands of people, the danger continued as efforts to clear away the debris began. People such as firefighters and police officers, volunteers, and workers were the first to arrive on the scene. Most of these people were unaware of the amount of asbestos located in the rubble, sorting through it without protective clothing and equipment. Since the attacks, reports have been issued regarding the dangers connected to asbestos exposure. When asbestos is broken down it releases tiny, sharp fibers into the air, and when inhaled, these fibers become embedded in the lining of the lungs, heart, abdomen or other organs, causing a particularly serious form of cancer called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is diagnosed when cancerous tumors, normally linked to the human carcinogen asbestos, develop in the pleura, or lining of the lungs.

A Slow Killer

Of those who were exposed to the dense clouds of debris and dust during the attack and after, some health problems are already presenting themselves. Long-term effects have yet to be determined. Because the development of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related diseases is very slow, new cases of these health problems may be diagnosed for many years to come. Mesothelioma can take anywhere from 20 up to 50 years after exposure to manifest symptoms. Those who lived and worked near the site of the catastrophe, as well as those who assisted in the clean-up, may still be unaware of their exposure to asbestos. References: