Skyscrapers Getting High in New York City

One World Trade Center, America's Tallest Building, Rises from the Ashes

One World Trade Center, completed, seen from a park near Broadway, with pedestrians
One World Trade Center, November 2014, seen from a neighboring park. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images North America

Getting high in New York is nothing new. Neither is the race to the top, to become the biggest and brightest star or the highest skyscraper.

On foot, approaching what may forever be known as Ground Zero, the pedestrian is struck by the gleaming, triangulated 1WTC amidst the neighboring boxes of International Style skyscrapers, older, stone Beaux Arts structures, and historic Gothic buildings like the Woolworth Building. In November 2014 lower Manhattan moved on—getting back in business as Condé Nast publishers took occupancy of a good chunk of One World Trade Center.

Like many of the skyscraper's in New York City, you can't see up to the very top of 1WTC when you're standing at the very bottom. Only with distance can you really see a skyscraper.

In 2013, with the 18th section of its spire in place, 1WTC became the tallest structure in New York. At 1,776 feet, the David Childs-design was the third tallest skyscraper in the world when it opened in 2014. The Durst Organization and Tower 1 Joint Venture LLC at, in charge of managing the building and leasing the office space, is promoting the venue as the "tallest building in the Western Hemisphere."

The steel broadcasting tower sits atop the 104-story office building built on the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks. When the World Trade Center Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11/01, the Empire State Building became New York's tallest building, as it had been when it opened on May 1, 1931. No longer. Before that, the Chrysler Building was the tallest. Weeks before the Chrysler Building topped out, the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street was the highest in the land.

New York City has always been a competitive place.

NYC Skyscrapers Competing To Be the Highest

NYC Building Year Height in Feet
1WTC 2014 1,776
Central Park Tower 2019 1,775
111 West 57th Street 2018 1,438
One Vanderbilt Place 2021 1,401
432 Park Avenue 2015 1,396
2WTC 2021 1,340
30 Hudson Yards 2019 1,268
Empire State Building 1931 1,250
Bank of America 2009 1,200
3WTC 2018 1,079
9 DeKalb Avenue 2020 1,066
53W53 (MoMA Tower; Tower Verre) 2018 1,050
Chrysler Building 1930 1,047
New York Times Building 2007 1,046
One57 2014 1,004
4WTC 2013 977
70 Pine Street (AIG) 1932 952
40 Wall Street 1930 927
30 Park Place 2016 926

World Trade Center Buildings

Lower Manhattan has risen from the ashes. The new World Trade Center buildings combine to create a startling skyline. Instead of the monolithic Twin Tower rectangles that once stood on Ground Zero, the site is a whirlwind of angular shapes and surprising contrasts of metals, glass, and stone. The first Tower completed, 7WTC in 2006, got the ball rolling at 741 feet.

Daniel Libeskind's 2002 Master Plan vision of a descending spiral of building heights has been honored by all of the WTC architects. The minimalist 4WTC by Japanese Pritzker Laureate Fumihiko Maki is no exception. "Given the irregular shape," states Gary Kamemoto, Director at Maki and Associates, "we were experimenting with triangulating the building form and make it look very light." Besides its beauty and functionality, the 977-foot Tower 4 is being advertised as exceeding NYC Building Codes. The magnificent, triangular 1WTC designed by David Childs and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is symbolic (its height is 1776 feet), historic, designed to achieve LEED Gold, and arguably the most secure skyscraper in all of Manhattan.

The spire of 1WTC doesn't quite look like the architect's initial rendering, but when the top beacon is lit, New York's tallest building becomes visible for 50 miles in every direction. Let's hope the guiding light attracts more and more tenants to this new urban space. Architecture needs people.


  • WTC video, 4 WTC Architect Fumihiko Maki, at [accessed November 2, 2014]
  • Additional photos by jayk7/Moment Collection/Getty Images
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Your Citation
Craven, Jackie. "Skyscrapers Getting High in New York City." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Craven, Jackie. (2023, April 5). Skyscrapers Getting High in New York City. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "Skyscrapers Getting High in New York City." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).