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The Globe and Mail

Spire hoisted atop New York's One World Trade Centre

Construction workers cheer as last piece of silver spire pulled aloft

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An iron worker uses a line to steady the flag-draped spire before it is lifted to the top of One World Trade Center on Thursday. The final piece helps to fill the void left in the New York skyline by the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


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Workers at the Ground Zero site take photographs. Once a beacon is installed, the tower will stand 541 metres (1,776 feet – a reference to the birth of the nation in 1776.) That will make it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, though still well short of the world’s tallest structure.


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Iron workers will finish installing the spire, which weighs about 725 metric tons and is 122 metres (400 feet) tall, at a later date. With a beacon to ward off aircraft, the spire will provide public transmission services for television and radio broadcast channels. An LED-powered light emanating from it will be seen from kilometres away.


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The tower is one of four skyscrapers designed to rise around the site of the fallen twin towers in a partnership between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site. The spire is a joint venture between the ADF Group Inc. engineering firm in Terrebonne, Que., and New York-based DCM Erectors Inc., a steel contractor.


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One World Trade Center, formerly called the Freedom Tower, will eclipse what has been the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, Chicago’s Willis Tower, at 442 metres (1,451 feet), not including its own antennas. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, considered an authority on such records, says an antenna is something simply added to the top of a tower that can be removed. By contrast, a spire is something that is part of the building’s architectural design.


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The United States was home to the tallest building in the world for much of the 20th century, but has been surpassed by the Middle East and Asia. The tallest building in the world currently is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, completed at 828 metres (2,717 feet.)


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Pedestrians turn to look down Fulton Street as the final piece of the spire, centre, is lifted. The tower is slated to open for business in 2014. Tenants include the magazine publisher Conde Nast, the U.S. government’s General Services Administration and Vantone Holdings China Center, which will provide business space for international companies.


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The steeple of St. Paul’s Chapel rises into the sky next to One World Trade Centre. The building is rising at the northwest corner of the site where the twin towers were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, killing nearly 3,000 people. ‘It’s not just a construction site,’ said Steven Plate, who is overseeing construction of the World Trade Center. ‘It’s truly a mission for all of us.’


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