Out With The Old ‘Ground Zero’ – In With A New World Trade Center


ground-zero-freedom-tower-9-11Deep in the bowels of the most closely watched construction site in the nation there is a phrase that is forbidden: Ground Zero.

Those words describe a lifeless pit filled with rubble and despair. What steel worker Earmon Maguire is working on is a living, breathing monument of hope, the colossal construction of a brand new day.

Here, columns of glass and metal rise at all hours. Concrete is being poured in every corner. Each rivet that is fastened, each tile that is polished is a source of special pride

“A neighbor of mine died in 9/11,” said Maguire, 27, of Brooklyn. “A lot of guys in the neighborhood died. People around the neighborhood know that I’m working here, rebuilding.”

Maguire is one of nearly 3,200 workers at the colossal construction site, each pulling 10-hour shifts six, sometimes seven, days a week. At night, the population drops to double or triple digits, but the work does not stop.

It can’t.

Most days, master welder Richard Alexander Graham can be found lighting his torch in the hot and sticky tunnels of the World Trade Center’s new transportation hub.

Like so many hardhats here, Graham was dispatched to the site a decade ago to help clear rubble left when the Twin Towers were destroyed.

“I came down here the first day,” Graham said as the sweat dripped under the leather smock he wears to shield him from the sparks. “I’m so proud about it, man.”

There is one important rule for construction workers on the site: Finish the job.

The cleanup after the attacks took nine months alone. But instead of office buildings, delays and costs were the only things rising. Then, after years of planning, false starts and disagreements, above-ground rebuilding began in April 2006.

Workers have completed Tower 7 and a memorial to 9/11 victims. Below, construction is moving along on the museum.

The project’s crown jewel, 1 World Trade Center, has risen to 80 stories, with 3.1 million square feet of office space already built.

Eleven subway lines plus the PATH train pass near the site.

“It’s the most iconic, the most important piece of construction ever done,” says Port Authority Chairman David Samson.

One of the perks of working construction on the most important project is the view from its main attraction.

Hardhats working on 1 World Trade Center step off the construction elevator at the 64th-floor sky lobby and are thrown back in time: The sun is setting over New Jersey, the Empire State Building rises in the distance and the Statue of Liberty is keeping watch over the harbor.

It’s a vantage point that evaporated on 9/11 and hasn’t been seen for 10 years.

Another nice bonus is the gig itself. The rats that scurry underground and the loneliness that settles in on the night shift are offset by steady, good-paying work in a bad economy.

“A year ago, I was working for my brother, but his business went down,” said Stephen Lee, 53, of Smithtown, LI, who also worked the pile after 9/11. “I was delighted to come here. I think all the 9/11 stuff is overdone already, but I’m lucky. This is probably the biggest job that I’ll ever be on in the city.”

{NY Post/Matzav.com Newscenter}