January 02, 2006

Real Reason WTC was Targeted

"Though this may be hard for some to believe, especially in these sentimental times, the so-called Twin Towers at the World Trade Center were hated by many New Yorkers, who before September 11, 2001 would have been happy if the goddamned things had never been built and after September 11th are glad that they're gone.
Built for an enormous amount of money between 1966 and 1970 by the Port Authority of the State of New York...the Twin Towers were always money-losers as rental properties and required huge subsidies (tens of millions of dollars a year) from the State of New York to remain solvent. Because all of the windows in both towers were sealed up tight...the WTC complex was ludicrously costly to heat and light. Furthermore, visiting business men and women weren't satisfied to remain within the WTC's purportedly self-sufficient universe, and wished to venture (and shop and do business) outside of it. In the 1980s, advances in information and telecommunication technologies decentralized the financial markets, which in turn "rolled back" the necessity for foreign institutions to be in close physical proximity to each other, Wall Street and the rest of lower Manhattan, which is precisely what the gigantic size and centralized location of the Twin Towers were intended to provide.
In New York City, obsolete buildings are infrequently saved, whatever their historical or architectural interest. Most often, they are simply torn down and replaced. The only thing that saved the Twin Towers from demolition was the fact that they were filled with asbestos, which would be released into the air if the buildings were destroyed by controlled explosions. In 2000, the Port Authority calculated that it would cost $1 billion -- i.e., much more money than the Port Authority could afford to
spend -- to remove the asbestos before the buildings were destroyed. And so the Port Authority was stuck with the Twin Towers, that is, until 26 April 2001, when it found a consortium of business interests (Westfield America, led by Larry Silverstein, the owner of the building at 7 World Trade Center) that was willing to lease the property. Supposed to last for 99 years, the $3.2 billion lease mandated that the Port Authority continue to pay taxes on the property. "This is a dream come true," Silverstein said at the 23 July 2001 celebration of the lease's signing. "We will be in control of a prized asset, and we will seek to develop its potential, raising it to new heights."
And so, quite paradoxically, the mass-murdering hijackers who destroyed the Twin Towers by flying fully fueled passenger airplanes into them did Westfield America an immense favor. Even though Westfield America would obviously have preferred that both the planes and the buildings were unoccupied (save for the hijackers themselves) at the time that the former were used to destroy the latter, the terrorists got rid of the towers quickly, efficiently -- the towers fell down instead of over -- and in such a way that Westfield America didn't have to pay for any of it*, including the asbestos, which was "removed" from the site by the wind, the rain and the search-and-rescue teams employed by the City of New York in the months after the buildings exploded, collapsed and gave off thick clouds of toxic dust." - New York Psychogeographical Association/Not Bored (11/30/01)

*FEMA Releases Additional $57 Million For Debris Removal
"The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that the agency is releasing an additional $57 million to assist New York City in debris removal at the World Trade Center site. This brings the total amount to date FEMA has provided for public assistance to more than $339 million.
FEMA public assistance funds are being used to help the city repair damaged infrastructure, restore critical services, cover costs associated with immediate response activities, and the removal, transport and sorting of debris." - FEMA (11/09/01)

Why The World Trade Center Shouldn’t Be Rebuilt As Before
...in your article supporting the rebuilding of the World Trade Center as it was before, you overlook a dirty little secret about the towers that we New Yorkers, mindful of the world’s sympathies, have managed to keep: Almost everyone hated them.
I realize that the WTC has become a symbol of everything good about America that those bastards were out to destroy. But lest anyone be puzzled about why we almost certainly aren’t going to rebuild the WTC the way it was, let’s recall the reasons why on September 10, 2001, no one would have been terribly upset if it had been peacefully replaced by something else:
It was ugly. It may have made a great exclamation point on the skyline for tourists to look at, particularly after the neighboring World Financial Center was designed specifically to make it fit in better with the rest of Lower Manhattan, but approaching it on foot from the street, it was ugly. Most people don’t realize that those two towers were surrounded by a cluster of ugly brown metal buildings less than ten stories high. These were what you saw close-up on ground level. The towers themselves weren’t particularly attractive from the ground, just vertiginous and a little intimidating. They had banal and unimpressive entrances. And the effect on the skyline is debatable: when WTC went up, its square bulk overshadowed the marvelous old ornamented and needle-tipped towers that you can see in old photographs, like 40 Wall Street, the Cities Service building, and the National City building. And it wasn’t much better on the inside: it had narrow recessed windows you couldn’t see out of, resulting in mediocre views. Its lobbies and public spaces were decorated in a kind of high-‘70s pseudo-glamorous kitsch, with white marble, giant chandeliers, and chrome plating everywhere. It was a boondoggle. When I hear people refer to it as a "symbol of capitalism," I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was not built by a private developer, but by government, in the form of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, our local bi-state agency that’s supposed to manage local transportation facilities. Of course, in the ‘60s, when this thing was conceived, they had gotten bored of doing such things and had branched into real-estate development while letting the transportation facilities crumble. It was built as a result of a corrupt deal between liberal Republican governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York and the state of New Jersey, in exchange for the Port Authority’s taking over the money-losing Hudson & Manhattan Railroad. Its other purpose, no better, was to prop up real estate values in Lower Manhattan, an act of absolutely no benefit to the public and geared solely to enriching local property owners at taxpayers’ expense. It wasn’t even effective; development in Lower Manhattan has continued to lag, despite huge subsidies. WTC was a monument to big government, corporatism, incompetence, and megalomania. It lost money. Because it was built in blissful disregard of the collapsing office market in Lower Manhattan, they couldn’t rent all of it when it opened. More than a million square feet of space just sat there, empty. The complex would have gone bankrupt if strings hadn’t been pulled to move state agencies into it. Under reasonable accounting assumptions and leaving out government subsidies of one kind or another, (such as the entire thing’s exemption from local taxes due to its being owned by a government agency) it was a financial disaster, partly because its cost overran estimates by more than 100%. And it never had more than 5% of its tenants in "world trade" related businesses, its intended market. It wrecked the street grid of Lower Manhattan. WTC replaced all that with a vast superblock like something from Brasilia, which disrupted traffic flow and made New York’s notorious traffic jams even worse.
It was shabbily constructed. The inadequate fireproofing that has been reported is just the tip of the iceberg. It is no accident that tower #7, which was actually further from the impact, collapsed, while the older New York Telephone building next door did not. It didn’t have enough fire stairs. The elevator shafts were enclosed in no more than sheetrock in many places, helping the fire to spread. It was a pain to do business in, because it took twice as long to get in and out of as any other skyscraper in New York. Due to that huge plaza, you couldn’t take a cab up to the door, but had to slog through rain, snow, or sweltering heat just to get to the front door. Then you had to take not one but two elevators to get wherever you were going: a bizarre combination of a "local" and an "express" elevator that I’ve never seen in any other building. It was so tall your eardrums hurt if you didn’t continually swallow on the way up. At street level, it was surrounded by a huge concrete plaza that was alternately sweltering (as it was completely unshaded by so much as a sapling) in summer and windswept (due to the vortex effect of the towers) in winter. The rest of the time, it was an open-air zoo of homeless people. The American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City rightly records that the shopping mall underneath it "drains the plaza of any meaningful activity." This mall, which brought the sophistication of Paramus, NJ to the world’s greatest city, killed the retail life of the streets of Lower Manhattan by siphoning off purchasing power. Pigeons got more out of it than people did. To build it, they had to demolish the old Electronics District of New York, destroying thousands of jobs and a good number of homes. It diverted billions in public investment from New York’s real infrastructure needs like the subways and the airports. It failed to provide easy connections between the different subway lines that ran beneath it. It was energy-inefficient. Its windows were untinted glass, leading to huge solar heat gain. It was built with inefficient pre-oil shock technology throughout.
It is no accident that when WTC was in effect expanded by the construction of the World Financial Center next door in the ‘80s, just about every design principle was reversed:
Sick irony or no, al Qaeda has given New York a chance to correct one of its great urban-planning mistakes. If they had blown up our wretched Penn Station, we would not be demanding that it be rebuilt as it was. It would be a pity to waste this opportunity rebuilding something that we know, in our heart of hearts, was a mistake top begin with.
Note: Here’s what New York’s premier architectural critic at the time, Ada Louise Huxtable, had to say about the World Trade Center when it opened:
"The towers are pure technology, the lobbies are pure schmaltz, and the impact on New York... is pure speculation. In spite of their size, the towers emphasize an almost miniature module... The module is so small, and the 22-inch wide windows so narrow, that one of the miraculous benefits of the tall building, the panoramic view out, is destroyed... These are big buildings but they are not great architecture. The grill-like metal facade stripes are curiously without scale... The Port Authority has built the ultimate Disneyland fairytale blockbuster. It is General Motors Gothic." (excerpted from Stern, Mellins & Fishman, New York 1960.)" - Front Page Magazine (06/11/02)

New York's most disliked building?
"The World Trade Center represented the essence of American financial power, but critics hated the towers and the public never embraced them.
The towers were acknowledged as a wonder of modern engineering, yet were riddled with quirks, like the way pencils rolled off desktops on the top floors when the wind began to gust. Real estate developers in the '60s and '70s derided the World Trade Center as government-sponsored folly. Yet this past summer the twin towers morphed into the most valuable piece of privately run real estate in New York.
And while the twin towers were embraced worldwide as the symbol of New York's grandeur and prowess, locals, not to mention merciless critics, were cool to the sprawling complex, if not outright contemptuous of the "dreary" creation.
"Even though New Yorkers didn't necessarily love the buildings, they will be remembered with such pain," says Carol Willis, founding director of New York's Skyscraper Museum."
In the 1950s David Rockefeller, co-chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, had recently opened up headquarters downtown and wanted to stimulate the surrounding real estate market. Concerned that most businesses flocked to midtown, and even financial professionals deserted downtown after work, Rockefeller envisioned a world-class complex that would be the center of international trade.
With his brother Nelson serving as New York's governor, Rockefeller lined up support from the bi-state, New York/New Jersey Port Authority agency. A wealthy, quasi-public commission (voting members are appointed by each state's governor), the Port Authority was created at the turn of last century and given "full power and authority to purchase, construct, lease and operate terminal, transportation and other facilities of commerce."
For the most part, that meant operating Hudson River crossings as well as Newark's airport. But at the urging of the Rockefeller brothers, the Port Authority agreed to build the World Trade Center. In the 1970s, critics suggested the towers No. 1 and No. 2 be called by their true names, David and Nelson.
Midtown's real estate developers adamantly opposed the project, afraid the new complex would glut the market with too much new office space and open the floodgates to a downtown migration.
Displaced local businesses located along a now-forgotten downtown section of the city known as Radio Row also protested. But the Port Authority enjoyed the power of eminent domain, giving it free rein to raze buildings for construction. (This was at a time when neighborhood objections to construction were routinely ignored by government-sponsored developers.)
When the towers were officially opened in 1972, New York Gov. Rockefeller again came to the towers' aid, solving a widespread vacancy problem by housing tens of thousands of state employees in the buildings. The state paid just $10 per square foot in rent. When vacancies began to shrink in the mid '80s and new tenants were paying office rents in the $30-$40 range, New York state opted to move its employees out, conveniently freeing up valuable space for the Port Authority to lease.
Although the twin towers were never seen as one of the city's most prestigious business addresses, by the '90s early shipping and merchant marine tenants from the '70s had been largely replaced by multinational banks and investment brokers such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. At the time of the attack the towers' occupancy rate was a robust 98 percent. Few if any of its remaining tenants had any real connection to port trade.
How best to remember the World Trade Center? The irony is that over the years many critics wished the towers were never there to begin with. Writing for the New York Times, architectural commentator Paul Goldberger often referred to the twin towers as "banal," and once suggested the World Trade Center represented "New York's most disliked building."
Hardy instead opts for "arrogant." Arrogant in the way the bullying, flat-top towers "gave no recognition to the skyline" around them; "arrogant in their placement." Hardy suggests it wasn't until the nearby Cesar Pelli-designed World Financial Center office complex was constructed in 1985 that the lower Manhattan skyline again began to jell.
The World Trade Center's off-putting, five-acre concrete plaza, created to set the towers off as two jewels, also never made much sense. "The plaza has always been alienating," says skyscraper historian Willis. "It's so vast, so out of scale with human beings. They would try to populate it during the lunchtime hour with outdoor dance performers and set up a stage. But inevitably the stage would look like a toy. Plus, there was always heavy wind swirling around. It was not an oasis, but more like a tundra. It was not the type of place that drew people to it."
And then there were the unusually narrow office windows that robbed tower inhabitants of what should have been an indisputable perk: the view. Yamasaki was afraid of heights and decided in order to make everyone feel secure while they worked in the offices, the windows, set between columns, would be just 18 inches across, narrower than Yamasaki's own shoulder span.
The problem with Yamasaki's window design, says Willis, is the towers offered "no sense of the spectacular panorama" for the workers inside, which is why she, like many professionals, declares the towers' interior "a failure, aesthetically." The irony is that one of the tower's selling points was its unique floor construction of prefabricated trussed steel, only 33 inches in depth. That allowed everyone a chance to look out the windows because the massive office space was uninterrupted by columns, a modernist ideal of the day.
In the end, the views, due to poor design, were a bust.
Not only were the towers obscenely tall, but massively wide as well. The towers' floors were 40,000 square feet, offering up an acre of space per floor; 220 acres between the twin towers.
Together, they boasted 10 million square feet in office space. That's larger than the Pentagon and more space than some entire American downtown business districts, such as St. Louis, Miami and San Diego.
Record-breaking skyscrapers built today, many of them in Southeast Asia, are taller than the twin towers, but much narrower and nowhere near as massive all the way around.
"The professional critics of architecture were never really brought around. They say the towers were boring and unadorned," says Gillespie, who can't point to a single prominent critic or architect who over the years came forward to defend the twin towers.
The World Trade Center reached its financial summit this summer when the Port Authority privatized the complex, selling a 99-year lease to local developer Larry Silverstein for $3.2 billion, the most expensive real estate deal of its kind.
Preparing to take over the lease this summer, Silverstein, suddenly New York's largest commercial landlord, told the New York Times, "I've been looking at the Trade Center for years, thinking what a great piece of real estate, what a thrill it would be to own it. There's nothing like it in the world." - Salon (09/17/01)

Loved, hated, center's profile was towering
"The twin towers were not beautiful, or poetic. They had not the art deco grace of Manhattan's Empire State Building nor the Chrysler Building. The towers were sheer power expressed in steel, concrete, aluminum and glass, bearing in their staggering ascension a certain arrogance, too.
These towers -- part of a seven-building complex -- were two gigantic boxes, forcing themselves upon the quirky rhythms of the Manhattan skyline.
When the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey leased the towers in the spring to a Paramus, N.J., real estate firm for $3.25 billion, the biggest such deal ever, the New York Times ran a piece headlined: "Learning to Love the World Trade Center."
It had never been easy.
From the beginning, the towers were considered an unfortunate example of urban renewal, an unsightly answer to the question of how to improve conditions in a shabby section of lower Manhattan. Sixteen acres of neighborhood were sacrificed to the project. According to the Times, the towers disrupted flight patterns of birds, which crashed into the towers by the dozens and fell dead to the pavement." - Baltimore Sun (09/12/01)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for showing me that New Yorkers hated the WTC buildings. I wasn't aware of that before.

Anonymous said...

Following your line of thought, the first WTC attack during in the mid 90's must have been a government plot too?

Sy said...

Why were the twin towers destroyed? There are two movies/books that give clues to the answer, I would suggest viewing the movie "The Two Towers" lord of the rings, and think 911 Afghanistan and Iraq and Iran....etc....etc. also a bit of research into how that book ended up with the title "the two towers" is very revealing. The second movie was directed by Peter Greenaway a British director.

Liz Erk said...

I'm literally just shaking my head here.

And this adds a lot of color to your blog entry:


Anonymous said...

This of course only lends relevance to the first question that the 911 commission should have asked. WHO STANDS TO GAIN MOST FROM THIS CRIME?

Anonymous said...

you should learn the facts before you write anything

Ad Blaster said...

One trouble with political jokes is that they sometimes get elected. "W.G.P"

Ad Blaster said...

Some people must make a good career of clumsiness.They couldn't be so good at it by accident." W.G.P"

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Endimion17 said...

It is a true shame how some vain writers cast crap over WTC. This article is a collection of truly sad remarks.
WTC was hated by a noncreative minority, and was belowed by the great majority newyorkers, especially the workers inside, let alone artists.
This part is total stupidity:
Then you had to take not one but two elevators to get wherever you were going: a bizarre combination of a "local" and an "express" elevator that I’ve never seen in any other building.

This only shows how ignorant the writer is. Bizzare elevator system, yeah right.
Very sad.

Anonymous said...

I do not buy into the 'Real Reason WTC was Targeted'. If you read the line that the only thing that saved the World Twin Towers from demolition is that it is filled with asbestos. The destruction of the WTC endangered the lives of millions with the debris and spread of asbestos. The destruction of the WTC spread out so widely that it's affecting many New Yorkers health even up to this day. No one in their right mind would've destroyed the WTC in this manner, except those who had a lot to gain from this horrid so-called disaster! American citizens are victims from those who profitted hugely from this disaster. It's that simple!