Construction of Freedom Tower begins

Although not set to begin until fall, construction of New York City’s Freedom Tower started July 4 when workers placed a cornerstone that honored the memories of those who were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

New York Governor George E. Pataki said beginning construction on July 4 would symbolize the city’s resurgence.

“As we celebrate the birth of our democracy, we also celebrate the rebirth of our City,” Pataki said in a public statement. “As we commemorate the founding of our nation, we lay the foundation for our resurgence. We will begin to reclaim our skyline with a permanent symbol of our freedom.”

Once built, the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower will be the tallest structure in the world. Prior to Pataki’s announcement, however, some critics were skeptical the project would even get off the ground. On May 3, site developer Larry A. Silverstein lost his 29-month-long court battle with insurance companies. Silverstein contended he was owed two payments of $877 million because he viewed the September 11 attacks on the two towers as separate incidents. A federal jury disagreed, and ruled the largest insurer of the World Trade Center had to render a single payout. Silverstein wanted to collect $7.1 billion from the insurers, but court rulings have limited him to a maximum of $4.68 billion, if he wins the rest of his cases.

Due to Silverstein’s legal setbacks, some have questioned whether the four other office buildings surrounding the Freedom Tower will be built. According to Pataki, however, plans for the Freedom Tower are concrete because financing has already been assured for its construction.