May 11th - May 17th, 2013
Spire Installed on WTC Tower, Making It 1,776 Feet
May 10 - The World Trade Center rebirth has long revolved around creating a centerpiece of unsparing symbolism: a skyscraper 1,776 feet tall, its height an homage and a bold statement about looking forward. The new 1 WTC reached that height with the lowering of a silvery spire from a crane on Friday, officially taking its place as a signature of the city's skyline and, with some argument, the nation's tallest tower, reported the Associated Press. The skyscraper, expected to open next year, is the focal point among the buildings designed to replace the fallen twin towers. When master plans for the site were unveiled in December 2002, architect Daniel Libeskind envisioned the tower "restoring the spiritual peak of the city, creating an icon that speaks to our vitality in the face of danger and our optimism in the aftermath of tragedy." With its spire reaching 1,776 feet, an echo of the nation's founding year, it is the tallest skyscraper in the U.S. and third-tallest in the world, although building experts dispute whether the pinnacle is an antenna, a crucial distinction in measuring the building's height.
Tallest Building Title Pits Willis vs. WTC
May 10 - In many camps, Friday's final installation of the spire on top of New York City's 1 World Trade Center makes it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1776 feet. But there's a lively debate as to whether the new building can really claim that title, reported NBC News. The final decision will be made by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, headquartered on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, and according to executive director Anthony Wood, the spire is questionable. "The feature that counts in the height has to be an integral part of the architecture. The thing that manifests itself is that is it a spire, or is it a piece of technical, functional equipment, like an antenna," Wood said. "The discussion about whether that is a spire or an antennae, is a discussion that is ongoing now, and we're convening our committee to rule on it." Willis Tower has 108 floors -- four more floors than the WTC, which some people think should count for something. If the 1 WTC antenna is ruled out, its ranking will drop all the way back to third place, shorter than Chicago's Trump Tower. In fact, Chicago has four of the top 10 tallest buildings, including the Hancock Building and the Aon Center.
Storm Knocks Down Trees in Lower Manhattan
May 12 - Clean up efforts in Lower Manhattan were continuing Sunday after a powerful storm knocked down several trees Saturday, reported NBC News. The storm tore down seven trees in Battery Park City, sending people running for safety. Downed branches shattered the glass over the patio of the Merchants River House restaurant. People who were in the area said the storm seemed to come out of nowhere. Crews had started cutting up the fallen trees Saturday night, but residents asked them to stop because the chainsaws were so loud. Crews resumed working Sunday morning.
Silverstein to Start 82-Story Lower Manhattan Tower in Late 2013
May 15 - World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein's plan for a hotel-condo tower is moving forward after a London-based investment firm has agreed to provide a construction loan of $660 million, according to the Associated Press. Silverstein Properties Inc. announced the agreement Wednesday with Children's Investment Fund Management LLP. Developer Larry Silverstein said construction on the 82-story super-luxury tower will begin this fall and the building will open in 2016. The 926-foot tower will be on the same block as the Woolworth Building and just a block and a half from the WTC. It will include a 189-room Four Seasons Hotel. The Wall Street Journal reports that condos in the building are expected to sell for as much as $34 million for a penthouse. Earlier plans for the property were shelved after the 2008 economic downturn.
Two Hurt as New York Water Taxi Hits Pier in Battery Park
May 16 - Two passengers suffered minor injuries when a New York Water Taxi collided into a Battery Park pier after it lost power Thursday afternoon, police said. DNAinfo.com reported that a father and daughter were hurt when the boat struck the dock at Pier A at 12:30 p.m. at a speed of about 5 to 10 knots, according to witnesses and officials. Authorities said the father, 47, was treated for a minor scratch on his elbow. The daughter, 23, complained of knee pain but had recently undergone knee surgery, police said. Both victims were treated at the scene and were not taken to the hospital, officials said. Witnesses described a loud thud that jolted the dock into the air when the taxi struck the pier. The boat, which had 40 passengers, was towed to the company's base in Red Hook, authorities said. New York Water Taxi had no comment.
MTA Tests Inflatable Subway Plug at South Ferry Station
May 15 - Removable panels and inflatable plugs are among the ideas New York City Transit officials are considering to stop the next big storm from flooding the subway system the way Superstorm Sandy did, the New York Daily News reported. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority investigating whether removable panels could be placed over ventilation grates and stairwells. The panels would be sealed shut with foam and should work better than the plywood and sandbags the agency uses now The MTA is also exploring other technologies such as an inflatable plug big enough to seal off a subway tunnel. Eight of the MTA's underwater tunnels flooded during the storm last October. Most subway lines were out for only a few days but parts of the system have taken much longer to repair. The MTA is still assessing the closed South Ferry station at the southern tip of Manhattan, where Thursday's briefing was held in a crew room that flooded during the storm. Lower Manhattan, home to the financial industry, City Hall and tens of thousands of residents, was where the subway system took its hardest hit from Sandy other than in the Rockaways. There are 540 places in Lower Manhattan where water can get into the system, including stairways, ventilation grates and emergency exits. Officials said the MTA hopes to have some mechanism in place to plug them up by the end of the 2013 hurricane season or at least by the beginning of the 2014 season.
Furor Over NYPD Planned Fort WTC
May 17 - The NYPD plans to build a fortress around the WTC site once it is completed -- and the measures have downtown residents up in arms, reported the New York Post. The $40-million police proposal would limit traffic over a 16-acre swath of the Financial District and includes guardhouses, bollards and checkpoints, documents show. Residents wanted Greenwich Street to be finally fully open to traffic -- it was cut off by the original twin towers -- but the NYPD rejected that idea in favor of security checkpoints on cars and trucks, documents show. East-west traffic between West and Church streets also will be cut off by the plan, which puts security barriers on Vesey and Fulton streets and an elaborate sally port on Liberty Street so cops can check tour buses. The plan was laid out in an environmental-impact statement required by city and state laws. The deadline on comments for the proposal is May 22, and the police and other agencies expect to begin construction of street barriers, security booths, sidewalk bollards and other installations later this year. The plan also calls for bollards that would run the length of West Street from Vesey to Liberty streets and along Church Street and Trinity Place. About seven intersections will be limited by a dual-barricade system controlled by police officers in guard stations. Some downtown activists say the plan goes too far. But other experts in urban planning say the police proposal will help the neighborhood and its businesses by encouraging people to walk or bicycle.