WTC Complex

The World Trade Center Complex was completed in 1973 in lower Manhattan’s west side along the shores of the Hudson River. The Port Authority wanted to create an impressive center for international trade which would reinforce New York City’s role as the financial capital of the world. It hired Seattle-based architect Minoru Yamasaki, along with Emery Roth and Sons of New York City, to draft plans for the massive World Trade Center Complex. Yamasaki was given a specific set of requirements for the World Trade Center design. With a budget of $500 million, Yamasaki and his associates needed to include twelve million square feet of floor space, subway connections for the Port Authority, and new terminals for the Hudson tubes.

The Twin Towers

The Port Authority also wanted the skyscrapers that would be included in the World Trade Center Complex to be taller than the Empire State Building. Upon completion, the staggering 110-story twin towers only briefly held the title as the world’s tallest buildings, as they were soon overshadowed by Chicago’s Sears Tower. To emphasize the beauty and scope of the twin towers, Yamasaki included an open plaza within the World Trade Center Complex. The North and South Towers were mostly utilized for office space.

The first forty floors of each tower were insulated with asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos is a small fibrous material originally used as an insulation of construction materials, machinery, and plumbing. This material is now considered a human carcinogen, and exposure to it can lead to serious illnesses and diseases such as mesothelioma. Once inhaled asbestos can become embedded in the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen where it can remain dormant for years, even decades.

Other Buildings in the Complex

The World Trade Center Complex also included five smaller buildings. The Vista Hotel, located at 3 World Trade Center, began receiving guests in 1981. This 22-story building was bought by Marriott in 1995 and was renamed the Marriott World Trade Center. During its final hours, after the attacks of 9/11, this hotel provided an escape route for those who had been inside the crumbling twin towers. Deutsche Bank and the New York Board of Trade shared a nine-story building at 5 World Trade Center. Underneath this building, Deutsche Bank stored gold and silver bullion, valued into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The U.S. Customs House, a seven-story low-rise building located at 6 World Trade Center, housed the offices of a variety of federal government departments. Set apart by its trapezoidal footprint, 7 World Trade Center was a 47-story office building, with a majority of its offices occupied by Salomon Smith Barney. All five of these buildings were destroyed, along with the twin towers, in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.