The History of One World Trade Center in 22 Photos

Getty Images
Getty Images

Here's a brief history of One World Trade Center—also known as—Freedom Tower, as told by the photos documenting its planning, construction, and grand opening.

1. Artist's Rendering: December 2003

An early rendering of the Freedom Tower, designed by architects David Childs and Daniel Libeskind, was unveiled on December 19, 2003. The new building would stand 1776 feet tall, have twisting sides meant to evoke the Statue of Liberty, and contain 2.6 million square feet of commercial space.

Libeskind, the original architect, was forced to collaborate with Childs, architect of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, at the request of Larry Silverstein, who held the lease on the property. The collaboration was not an easy one, according to Libeskind: "It's not just easy. It's not just a couple of meetings. It's a struggle to create something great." The "exclamation point" on the skyline, Childs said, "must be iconic. Simple and pure in its form, a memorable form, that would proclaim the resiliency and the spirit of our democracy." The design was controversial and would eventually be modified due to security concerns.

2. Laying the Cornerstone: July 4, 2004

Michael Bloomberg (then Mayor of the city) unveiled the cornerstone's inscription with then-Governor George Pataki (rear left) and then-New Jersey Governor James McGreevey (right) at the groundbreaking ceremony for the tower. “Today we take 20 tons of Adirondack granite—the bedrock of our State—and place it as the foundation, the bedrock of a new symbol of American strength and confidence," Pataki said. "Today, we lay the cornerstone for a new symbol of this city and this country and of our resolve in the face of terror. Today we build the Freedom Tower." The cornerstone would eventually be moved in 2006 because of the building's redesign, which made its location obsolete.

3. Updated Design: June 2005

On June 29, 2005, a new Freedom Tower design was unveiled. According to a press release from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the redesigned building featured a cubic base rather than the parallelogram of the original design, and was set back further from the street. The new design measured 200 feet by 200 feet, the same size as the footprints of the Twin Towers:

As the tower itself rises from its cubic base, its square edges are chamfered back, transforming the square into eight tall isosceles triangles in elevation. At its middle, the tower forms a perfect octagon in plan and then culminates in an observation deck and glass parapet (elevation 1362 feet and 1368 feet—the heights of the original Twin Towers) whose plan is a square, rotated 45 degrees from the base. A mast containing an antenna for the Metropolitan Television Alliance (MTVA), designed by a collaboration of architects, artists, lighting designers and engineers, and secured by a system of cables, rises from a circular support ring, similar to Liberty’s torch, to a height of 1,776 feet. In keeping with the original design, the entire composition evokes the Statue of Liberty’s torch and will emit light, becoming its own Beacon of Freedom.

4. Construction Begins: April 2006

After two years of delays, construction finally began on One World Trade Center in April 2006.

5. Other WTC Building Designs Unveiled: September 2006

Later that year, Silverstein and architects Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fuhimo Maki unveiled designs for three new skyscrapers that will eventually replace the buildings destroyed in the 9/11 attacks.

6. and 7. Signing and Raising the First Steel Beams: December 2006

A number of 25-ton steel beams—including one signed by thousands of people—were erected in December 2006, the first vertical construction of the future One World Trade Center.

8. Building the Foundation: September 2008

Two years later, approximately 500 workers were still building the foundation of One World Trade Center.

9. Installing More Steel Columns: August 2009

In August 2009, workers installed the first of 24 large steel columns—each 60 feet long and 70 tons—at the core of the building. They were the largest columns used to date on the structure.

10. A view of the top: November 2010

A view of the top of the One World Trade Center gives some perspective for how far the building came in just a year.

11. The Halfway Point: February 2011

The building hit 52 floors—and the halfway mark in its construction—in February 2011.

12. Hurricane Irene: August 2011

A photographer snapped this photo as the top of One World Trade Center is buffeted by rain from Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011. The building was located in a mandatory evacuation area, and construction was suspended during the storm. In October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy hit, Tribeca residents noticed that the building made an eerie whistling sound in the storm's high winds.

13. One World Trade at Night: September 2011

Just days before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the white lights on One World Trade were switched out for patriotic red, white, and blue illumination.  

14. and 15. The Tallest Building in NYC: April 2012

On April 30, 2012, steel workers Jim Brady (right) and Billy Geoghan maneuvered a steel beam into place on the 100th story of One World Trade Center, making it the tallest building in New York City. Reporters and photographers got to check out the view from the 90th story.

16. and 17. The Spire Arrives: December 2012

On December 11, 2012, nine sections of the tower's 408-foot tall steel spire arrived on a barge on the Hudson River.

18. The view from the 100th Story: April 2013

Media toured 1WTC's observation deck in April 2013.

19. The last section of the spire is hoisted into place: May 2013

Just one month later, the last 75-foot section of the building's spire was lifted into place. You can watch a timelapse video of the event here.

20. Named the Tallest Building in North America: November 2013

In November 2013, One World Trade Center was officially named the tallest building in North America, stealing the title from Chicago's Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower).

21. The Harlem Globetrotters Take a Tour: February 2014

On February 12, 2014, the Harlem Globetrotters—including Jon "Hawk" Thomas—visited the 100th floor of One World Trade Center, where they gave away 104 tickets to represent the 104 floors of the building.

22. The Building Opens for Business: November 2014

Media company Conde Nast—One World Trade's first tenant moved in.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

6 Protective Mask Bundles You Can Get On Sale

pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus
pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Daily life has changed immeasurably since the onset of COVID-19, and one of the ways people have had to adjust is by wearing protective masks out in public places, including in parks and supermarkets. These are an essential part of fighting the spread of the virus, and there are plenty of options for you depending on what you need, whether your situation calls for disposable masks to run quick errands or the more long-lasting KN95 model if you're going to work. Check out some options you can pick up on sale right now.

1. Cotton Face Masks; $20 for 4

Protective Masks with Patterns.
Triple7Deals

This four-pack of washable cotton face masks comes in tie-dye, kids patterns, and even a series of mustache patterns, so you can do your part to mask germs without also covering your personality.

Buy it: $20 for four (50 percent off)

2. CE- and FDA-Approved KN95 Mask; $50 for 10

A woman putting on a protective mask.
BetaFresh

You’ve likely heard about the N95 face mask and its important role in keeping frontline workers safe. Now, you can get a similar model for yourself. The KN95 has a dual particle layer, which can protect you from 99 percent of particles in the air and those around you from 70 percent of the particles you exhale. Nose clips and ear straps provide security and comfort, giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

Buy it: $50 for 10 (50 percent off)

3. Three-Ply Masks; $13 for 10

Woman wearing a three-ply protective mask.
XtremeTime

These three-ply, non-medical, non-woven face masks provide a moisture-proof layer against your face with strong filtering to keep you and everyone around you safe. The middle layer filters non-oily particles in the air and the outer layer works to block visible objects, like droplets.

Buy it: $13 for 10 (50 percent off)

4. Disposable masks; $44 for 50

A batch of disposable masks.
Odash, Inc.

If the thought of reusing the same mask from one outing to the next makes you feel uneasy, there’s a disposable option that doesn’t compromise quality; in fact, it uses the same three-layered and non-woven protection as other masks to keep you safe from airborne particles. Each mask in this pack of 50 can be worn safely for up to 10 hours. Once you're done, safely dispose of it and start your next outing with a new one.

Buy it: $44 for 50 (41 percent off)

5. Polyester Masks; $22 for 5

Polyester protective masks.
Triple7Deals

These masks are a blend of 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex, and they work to block particles from spreading in the air. And because they're easily compressed, they can travel with you in your bag or pocket, whether you're going to work or out to the store.

Buy it: $22 for five (56 percent off)

6. Mask Protector Cases; $15 for 3

Protective mask case.
Triple7Deals

You're going to need to have a stash of masks on hand for the foreseeable future, so it's a good idea to protect the ones you’ve got. This face mask protector case is waterproof and dust-proof to preserve your mask as long as possible.

Buy it: $15 for three (50 percent off)

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

The Tallest Cemetery Monument in New Orleans Was Built Out of Spite

baldeaglebluff, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
baldeaglebluff, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Spite has motivated many construction projects, from a 40-foot-tall fence in California to an 8-foot-wide home in Massachusetts. But when it comes to pettiness, few structures can beat Moriarty Monument in New Orleans's Metairie Cemetery. Reaching 80 feet high, the memorial to Mary Moriarty was an excuse for her widower to show off his wealth to everyone who rejected him.

New Orleans is famous for its cemeteries, which feature above-ground mausoleums. The soil in the region is too wet and swampy to dig traditional 6-foot graves, so instead, bodies are interred at the same level as the living. The most impressive of these graveyards may be Metairie Cemetery on Metairie Road and Pontchartrain Boulevard. Built in 1872, it lays claim to the most above-ground monuments and mausoleums in the city, the tallest of which is the Moriarty Monument.

The granite tomb was commissioned by Daniel A. Moriarty, an Irish immigrant who moved to New Orleans with little money in the mid-1800s. It was there he met his wife, Mary Farrell, and together they started a successful business and invested their new income into real estate. The couple was able to build a significant fortune this way, but Moriarty struggled to shake off his reputation as a poor foreigner. The city's upper class refused to accept him into their ranks—something Moriarty never got over. After his wife died in 1887, he came up with an idea that would honor her memory and hopefully tick off the pretentious aristocrats at the same time.

By 1905, he had constructed her the grandest memorial he could afford. In addition to the towering steeple, which is a topped with a cross, the site is adorned with four statues at the base. These figures represent faith, hope, charity, and memory, while the monument itself is meant to be a not-so-virtuous middle finger to all those who insulted its builder.

Gerard Schoen, community outreach director for Metairie Cemetery, told WGNO ABC, “The reason Daniel wanted his property to be the tallest was so his wife could look down and snub every 'blue blood' in the cemetery for all eternity." More than a century later, it still holds that distinction.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]