The History of the World Trade Center
What was the World Trade Center and why was it important?
The original World Trade Center was a 16-acre complex in New York City, comprising seven buildings that housed more than 430 businesses from around the world. The Twin Towers, two 110-story skyscrapers at the World Trade Center, dominated the Manhattan skyline for three decades before their destruction in 2001. Although initially criticized for their audacious height and severe architectural style, the buildings took on iconic status in the public imagination, becoming emblematic of New York City and America as a whole.
Their fame and symbolism made the Twin Towers the targets of two terrorist attacks. The first took place on February 26, 1993, when a van loaded with approximately 1,200 pounds of explosives was detonated in the public parking garage beneath the World Trade Center. The second took place on September 11, 2001, when members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda flew two hijacked planes into the buildings, leading to their collapse.
These primary sources include speeches, executive orders, legislative acts and debates, and government reports.
History of the Port Authority of NY & NJ
Program from the World Trade Center dedication ceremony on April 4, 1973
Suggested Reading List
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
Mordicai Gerstein. Square Fish, 2007.
Three World Trade Center Was Our Home
Isabelle Tadmoury Florjin (author), Annerose Wahl (illustrator). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center
James Glanz and Eric Lipton. Times Books, 2004
Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade
Gillespie, Angus. Rutgers University, 1999
Symbolism and the city: From towers of power to ‘Ground Zero’
Robert Patrick and Amy MacDonald. Prairie Perspectives: Geographical Essays (Vol: 15), 2012.
These related resources include lesson plans, past public programs, and feature galleries on Inside the Collection.