1 WTC spire ceremony marks a milestone, but are we celebrating unnecessarily?

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LOWER MANHATTAN (PIX11) — One World Trade Center reached a new milestone on Thursday — again.  When the crown of its spire is put in place, the anchor building of the World Trade Center Site will be the tallest in the nation, as well as the entire Western Hemisphere.  However, even though the spire’s crown was celebrated with awe on Thursday, it was not installed, which begs a question:  is acknowledging every milestone in the iconic building’s completion worth the effort?  People with a close interest in the project provide perspective.

As a crane lifted the four storey crown of the 408-foot spire from its perch on the ground to the height of the building’s roof Thursday morning, one comparison was inevitable.   The pointed, silvery crown headed skyward strongly resembled a rocket in its initial stages of liftoff.  However, this was by no means the final countdown toward the completion of One World Trade Center.

“It will be lifted onto a platform, to be installed at a later date,” Port Authority spokesperson Anthony Hayes said at the scene, in describing what was happening to the spire crown on Thursday at the base of One World Trade’s north wall.

In other words, instead of the LED beacon-bearing structure getting to claim its place of high honor now, it will have to sit on a roof rack until further notice.

Nonetheless, dozens of camera crews, including PIX11, were on scene recording the  hoisting ceremony whose end was decidedly unceremonious.  Three news helicopters recorded the scene overhead as well.

One of the hundreds of construction workers on hand to see the latest chapter in the building project on which they’ve worked for seven years summed up how many of his fellow coworkers regarded what they saw.

“Build it, and they will come,” Eddie Thorn said.  “It’s been the financial center of the world, and always will be.”

The pride is understandable, especially since it took so long for legislators, regulators and builders to get together and finally make the building rise.  Its original completion date has come and gone.  Some cynics might say that the time for any celebration is when the tower if finally completed.

“I would say the opposite,” said Steve Plate, director of construction for One World Trade.  “Every event such as this is a celebration.  We have 26,000 people working here in a very challenging economic time.”

Does that merit, however, the list of milestone ceremonies the building has hosted in the last twelve months, including One World Trade becoming the tallest building in the city, and President Obama signing the building’s final beam?  Just last month, One World Trade’s observation deck was unveiled, even though it won’t open for two more years.  Add to that Thursday’s hoisting event, which will be followed by the crown placement ceremony in the coming days or weeks — exactly when is still undetermined — and it’s valid to ask if it’s all overblown.

An instructor of New York architectural history at Cooper Union and the New York School of Interior Design puts the situation into perspective.  “This is not just any building,” said Barry Lewis, who has written extensively about dozens of New York City landmarks over his thirty year career.  “It’s counteracting the violence we went through [on September 11th].”

Put another way, when the spire’s crown is finally installed, bringing the building’s height to 1,776 feet, count on the camera crews, helicopters and dignitaries to return, for good reason.

Again, that still has not happened, despite the Downtown Alliance issuing a message Thursday saying, “The spire of One World Trade Center was hoisted to the top today, officially making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776 feet.”

Officially, it is not, until the next ceremony, that of crown placement.  Expect also, once the structure’s interior is finished next year for there to be yet another ceremony, marking the building’s total completion.  It may be its final ceremony.

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