A few highlights relevant to the film
THE TOWERS RISE
|The idea of building a “World Trade Center” in New York’s financial district, with the world’s two tallest buildings in the form of Twin Towers, was originally lobbied for by influential players within New York State politics, including the Rockefeller family. Development was carried out by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the 1960s. As the old promotional films that open Improbable Collapseshow, a low-rise neighborhood of retail shops, known to New Yorkers as the place to buy transistors and TV tubes, was demolished to create a pit almost identical in appearance to today’s Ground Zero.The Towers rose up at the site over six years’ time, as pioneering examples of a new way of constructing buildings that could reach record heights. The interior “steel cage” of a traditional skyscraper was replaced by a tubular design of load-bearing perimeter columns – the exterior walls literally held up the building’s weight – with an additional, interior core still in the form of a grid-and-lattice network. The perimeter and the core constituted two separate and to a degree redundant systems of load-bearing, vertical elements. They were attached to each other and stabilized by extremely long floor trusses of up to 60 feet in length. The trusses in turn held up the concrete floor space.This design freed up a full acre of open space per floor, unhindered by interior columns, and allowed the towers to rise straight up for 110 stories without requiring any of the progressive set-backs that had limited skyscraper height until that time. (Some have said this design ultimately doomed the Towers to collapse; see the next page. One point that bears emphasis is that as a two-state agency, the Port Authority was never forced to comply with either of the two states’ or the City’s building codes, its buidlings un-monitored by any independent auditing body.)||from plaguepuppy|
|It took many years before the Towers achieved anything near full occupancy or economic viability. While many admired them as the signature of the New York skyline, they always also had their detractors as outmoded “white elephants,” with closely-spaced and poorly-lit floors and substantial amounts of asbestos still left over from its common use during the era of the WTC’s construction.|
WTC 7 TENANTS AS OF AUGUST 2001
Courtesy of the FEMA report on WTC 7, as archived at wtc7.net
||Owner: Silverstein Propertiesunknown/wtc7.net|
NOTES ON THE DEMISE OF WTC 7
- The mortgage on WTC 7 was purchased in 2000 by the Blackstone Group, a private equity fund managed by Steven Schwarzman and chaired by banker Peter Petersen (who at the time was also chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and the Council on Foreign Relations). Blackstone Group is heavily invested in the military sector, perhaps appropriate given some of the building’s many government tenants.
- The CIA announced in 2002 that it had lost secret offices located in WTC 7, which it described as its largest station in the United States outside of the Washington DC area.
- The SEC’s most important offices in New York City held the irreplaceable paper records on hundreds of ongoing securities fraud investigations, just at the height of a stock market bubble and on the cusp of a series of large-scale corporate accounting scandals and bankruptcies. The SEC has never released an accounting as to the evidence lost in the destruction of its offices, the effect on investigations, or the impact on the SEC’s subsequent probes of alleged insider trading based on foreknowledge of 9/11.
- The blast-reinforced OEM complex on Floor 23 was built in 2000 as the Mayor’s secure bunker for emergency management, and had its own air supply. It was the subject of a dispute with the Fire Deparment, due to its generators and large diesel fuel-tanks, which were placed on Floor 7 in violation of the New York City Fire Code. OEM was abandoned as a command center soon after the September 11th attacks began. WTC 7 was ordered evacuated just before the collapse of the Twin Towers.
- Fires at WTC 7 were reported on the afternoon of September 11th. A warning circulated to people at the site that the building was about to collapse, a few minutes before it did so at 5:20 pm.
- Click here to see a sampling of videos of the collapse.
- We are unable to confirm reports of anyone being killed in the collapse of WTC 7.
|Steven Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, seen here at a 2002 “CEO Summit” with Richard Grasso, who was Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange during the largest equities bubble in history. Larry Silverstein (below) was also present at the CEO Summit, held by New York University. (Photo: NYU)|
After September 11th, Larry Silverstein claimed a double payout from the consortium of insurance companies covering the WTC, saying the two plane crashes were actually two separate occurrences under New York law. By 2006, after a complicated legal battle involving 30 different companies, Silverstein was set to get two payoffs, if at a lower rate. A fight about how to develop the Ground Zero site now rages between the state and city of New York, the Port Authority, and Silverstein. Under an agreement of April 2006, Silverstein is to build the new site using money raised by selling New York State Liberty Bonds. He will hand over the completed “Freedom Tower,” once again the world’s largest building at a nominal height of 1776 feet, to the Port Authority, and keep for himself a couple of the smaller, more lucrative buildings surrounding the tower. In addition, odds are excellent that Silverstein will walk off with almost the entire insurance payoff of 2.2 billion to 6 billion dollars – compared to a total of less than $1 billion in investments and rent paid out by his limited partnership as of today.
Meanwhile, the insurance money for WTC 7 was paid, allowing Silverstein to buy out the Blackstone Group’s interest and build the new WTC 7. The building was topped out in 2006, to fanfare and awards for ecological design. A glossy brochure ran in the New York Times, addressed “To Those Who Make Their Own Opportunities” and announcing, “Your Office is Ready.” The first tenant to rent space in the New 7 was the Chinese government. The building is far more prominent than its predecessor, and still today, relatively few people have ever seen footage from the moments when the old WTC 7 met its end.
The New WTC 7 Rises
For many people, visiting Ground Zero today is akin to a pilgrimage, a search for meaning.
Some of the New York activists featured in Improbable Collapse have suggested that the new Building 7 might best be put to use as the future headquarters of an American Truth Commission.