New York City’s One World Trade Center is finally open for business. The building has been under construction for eight years, raising mixed feelings about its purpose and meaning in the Manhattan skyline. The most obvious explanation is that it serves as a symbol of resilience and perseverance for New Yorkers and the American public, the idea that we’re strong enough to rebuild what was taken from us. Yet the massive building also serves as a constant reminder of the tragic events that the city experienced 13 years ago.
One World Trade Center has been an especially strange structure in recent years, as it’s been mostly finished yet still hollow and empty. With no offices or daily activity in the building, it’s almost served as an extension of the 9/11 memorial below, a monument to a city's tragic past. The design of the structure itself was the subject of Banksy’s criticism during the street artist’s month-long residency in the city last year, during which he released a rejected New York Times editorial claiming the building “looks like it never wanted to be built in the first place.” Chicagoans took issue with the fact that the building's spires were counted as part of its height, making it the tallest building in the country, but that’s a different story.
A series of security breaches also raised questions about how safe things would be like for the building’s future occupants. Luckily, none of the breachers were violent in nature. A teen was arrested for sneaking past a guard, reaching the top floor and snapping a photo. Another group of people was arrested after uploading a video of them base jumping off the building to YouTube.
Now that the building is finally open and businesses like Conde Nast are populating its floors, the building needs all the public support it can get. Those with offices being transferred to the building have expressed some anxiety about their new work environment, but hopefully once the normalcy of daily life in and around the building is established those fears will soon subside. The best thing to do is to at least attempt to treat it like any other building in downtown Manhattan, as impossible or as painful as that may be to do. One World Trade Center is an obvious symbol — there's a reason it's referred to as the Freedom Tower — which unfortunately also makes it an obvious target. As we’ve been reminded following many terrorist attacks and acts of random violence, refusing to be afraid is a small but important victory against those that spread evil in this world. One World Trade Center is here, and hopefully all security concerns will start to fade as the healing process moves forward.