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World Trade Center Film Stream

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9/11 - Die letzten Minuten im World Trade Center (2006) [Deutsche Dokumentation]

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9/11 - Die letzten Minuten im World Trade Center (2006) [Deutsche Dokumentation] World Trade Center Film Stream

They knew that Lower Manhattan was not going to come up again unless they did something so bold and outrageous that the people of Midtown couldn't ignore them.

And the Port Authority listened to that, and they went with it, and they built the biggest buildings in the world, because they knew that they had to do that, or else it was going to be a lost investment.

And I think we particularly believed in it in the 60s, when the World Trade Center was conceived. You know, bigger and bigger American things.

Bigger and bigger doses of American power were going to solve anything. It was the age when all the cars were gargantuan and had fins.

It was the age when we were sending troops into Vietnam. The age of going to the moon. And its architectural equivalent was this notion of bigger and bigger buildings all the time.

We've always also romanticized height in a very wonderful way, in New York. That's very much part of our DNA, is to just build bigger and taller all the time.

What I wanted, was a great architect. This had to be the greatest project in the world if it were to succeed.

And we interviewed virtually everybody in the world, of consequence. And to the teams that I sent out to find out what architects did, the first stipulation I gave them was, "Try to find somebody who you think is young enough to live for 20 years," because I was sure that this project, as we conceived it, would take at least 20 years to finish.

And it actually took more than that. He was not one of those architects who was particularly emphatic about a structural engineering solution.

One thinks of his earlier work more in a decorative vein. He was interested in the play of light and shadow on the surface of a building.

So that his previous buildings seemed almost delicate in scale, and wholly out of proportion to the ambition of the commission of the Trade Center.

And he wanted to make architecture warm. So he kept doing these buildings that were sort of delicate. A lot of his stuff had these funny little gothic arches and it looked kind of cute, in a weird way.

They also wanted someone who was not so old and established and also set in his ways that they couldn't, you know, twist his arm and get him to agree to do what they wanted to do.

They wanted someone who was creative, but they also wanted someone that was going to listen to Guy Tozzoli and to Austin Tobin. And they got that in Minoru Yamasaki.

Yamasaki was actually a kind of low-end "high art" architect. He was not one of the more admired ones by architectural historians and critics, but he was nonetheless sort of somewhere in the bottom of that group.

And this was of course for him the opportunity of a lifetime. It's called the program, and its nonnegotiable.

And he knows that he cannot even, you know, have a conversation with Guy about this. For months, he searched for the right form for the project -- working on a scale no architect had ever before confronted -- struggling to reconcile his own artistic sensibility with the overwhelming size of the program.

Experimenting with one model after another, he toyed with the idea of using 10 smaller structures -- then one gigantic one -- but kept coming back to the image of two slender towers, one offset from the other -- a design he hoped that would combine the practical requirements of the Port Authority's program, with the sculptural elegance he admired in the work of his great mentor, the German architect Mies van der Rohe.

And finally he sent word back to me, "It's time for you to come out and I want to show you the one I like the best. And it had a hotel, and it had the Customs House, everything around it.

It was a lovely, lovely design. That's why no one has ever done that. You're going to figure out a way for me to build the world's tallest buildings, because that'll get us the other two million feet of space.

We'll just make those towers higher. And he had high aspirations that that be the case. But he was never entirely comfortable, I don't think, with the height that the towers reached.

On January 18th, , when the final design was presented to the public at a press conference at the New York Hilton, the officials and reporters assembled for the occasion were stunned.

With every floor over an acre in size, each tower alone contained twice the floor space of Al Smith's Depression era landmark. Even Nelson Rockefeller was astounded by the plan -- gleefully confiding to a senior aide, "My God, these towers will make David's building look like an outhouse.

An editorial in The New York Times that ran the next day took a more sober view. Suddenly, it became possible for the Port Authority to build the tallest buildings in the world, which is the most ephemeral of all titles.

It's taken away from you very quickly and always will be. But there is something that is inside of human beings that wants to reach for the skies.

And I'd like to think that it was that romantic and that spiritual and that symbolic. Within days of the press conference at the New York Hilton, a storm of protest had begun to break over the offices of the Port Authority -- bringing to a climax tensions and conflicts that had been building for years, and threatening to halt the mammoth project before it had even gotten off the ground.

Conrad Veight was "the man you loved to hate. I was very much around when the process of the clearing of the site and the protests about the destruction of that kind of funky agglomeration of street patterns and activities around it were there.

I resented its massive dumbness, its huge size -- the fact that it tipped the balance of the skyline to the west in an unnatural way -- if you can call something like a manmade skyline of Manhattan natural.

Preservation was a growing sentiment among a wide number of people in New York and other places at this time. Remember the Pennsylvania Station protest was '63, the destruction ' It's just those years the Trade Center is being hatched and developed.

And so you have these two models of urbanism or urban growth coming head to head at the Trade Center site. So people were very much divided as to whether this project should even happen.

People said, "This is not the business of the Port Authority. The Port Authority should be talking about the port.

If we're losing the ocean liners, what are we going to put there? There were many people within the New York real estate industry who were opposed to the World Trade Center's 10 million square feet of new office space flooding the market, because they legitimately feared that that space would throw out of whack the whole commercial private market in real estate in New York.

So the old rationale is crumbling. You get a complex of interests, particularly the people who own the Empire State Building, who say, "Wait a minute!

You're in fact using government public dollars to underwrite a massive new complex of office space. What's going to happen to the rental market?

It's going to not only destroy downtown, because you're going to build far more office space than you actually need, but it's going to mess up my property up here in the Empire State Building.

And they, when they heard the announcement of our plan, which was in , they formed a "Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center. So I went and met with Mr.

Helmsley one day. In any case, we did. We actually negotiated a deal with the television people, and they moved down to our place.

And it all worked out. They're going to have a sign that says Cortlandt Street, and after that it will be nothing but concrete and a plaza into which nobody ever stepped.

And then to substitute these superblocks with huge buildings. For the World Trade Center, 14 historic streets became two superblocks. So in the mentality of post World War Two redevelopment, this was a soft area, an easy kill: hardly anybody to relocate; no institutions to relocate; and nobody living there, to speak of.

So there it was, quick: one-two-three, do it. But by the time the site began to be really getting ready for clearance, people saying, "You're tearing out this living, vital part of the city.

We also feel very reluctant about our city giving up 13 square blocks to the Port Authority. And airports, build them. Stay in your business and we'll stay in ours.

Small Businessman. Don't let the Port Authority bury him. Just 10 blocks to the north, opponents of Robert Moses would soon score a stunning triumph in their fight to stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway.

In the end, however, even the rising tide of grassroots activism in New York would prove no match for the power of the Port Authority -- or for the extraordinary political skills of its fiercely determined leader, Austin Tobin.

And those are the issues here and not any phony issue of the Port Authority wanting to get into the real estate business, which is the last thing in the world it has the slightest interest in.

There's no underestimating that internal fire. You can't run an agency like the Port Authority, especially in those times, and have the successes that it had, and not have that fire inside.

Austin Tobin wanted it real bad. Now, on the technical side, Tobin was just a lot smarter than the people he was playing against. If the city was going to make a move, he knew who his people in the city council were he could count on in a pinch.

He knew that if it became a public relations battle, that he had Lee Jaffe, who had all her ducks in a row with the newspapers.

And he had the technical guys, he could pull out arguments that had the authority no one else had. No one else could do this. How could the city council counter an argument by his engineering department that this kind of a structure was the way it had to be?

How could someone come in from, you know, little Oscer Nadel's protest group and go up against the people who had gone in and just put the second deck on the George Washington Bridge, the third tube in the Lincoln Tunnel?

In March , the New York State Court of Appeals turned back the last challenge to the legality of its condemnations.

On the bright, windswept morning of March 21st, -- as opponents of the project looked helplessly on -- the first red brick structures on Radio Row, which had stood since the time of the Civil War, began to come down.

To make a long story short, the "Powers That Are" assembled in favor of remaking Lower Manhattan triumph.

And one by one, these competing uses are literally driven into the sea or pushed on somewhere else. I mean, literally, bulldozers knocked down the old houses and just tipped them over, smashed them over like they were big fists being leveled from the sky somehow.

All those original Polaroids, no negatives, were lost in one of the buildings on September 11th, so that even that, even that record of it is gone.

Everyone, because there are so many things about gigantism that we just don't know. The gamble of triumph or tragedy at this scale -- and ultimately it is a gamble -- demands an extraordinary payoff.

The Trade Center towers could be the start of a new skyscraper age or the biggest tombstones in the world. And somehow I fell onto a small article, but the picture really called my attention.

It was the twin towers but in their model form, because it was in and they had not yet started to be built. And I had not yet started to be a wire walker, which is actually the amazing part of the story.

So how could I fall in love with those two towers, the highest towers in the world, said the article? So presumptuous, so arrogant, so naive, so romantic.

And it was all of that. And I remember, I just -- I had to tear the article, and everybody was watching me. You know, in France everybody's watching each other.

It was very quiet, and I couldn't rip the page, and plus you don't, you know, you don't steal something.

So I actually let go a giant sneeze and under the cover of the sneeze, I teared the article, put it under my shirt, and I had to leave, and I had to find another dentist.

But you know, what was it to have a toothache for another week, when what I had now in my chest was a dream?

From the very start, the challenge of constructing two immense towers not only taller but far larger than any other in the world would force Austin Tobin's team of builders and engineers to reinvent almost every aspect of skyscraper technology and design -- challenging not only the height but the most basic construction principles of its great rival, the Empire State Building -- and producing along the way one of the greatest works of engineering art ever created.

But inside, inside of the guts of it, if you will, the structure, entirely different. Entirely different buildings. To build the world's tallest buildings and stories took a special kind of genius.

And that was really Les Robertson and his partners who came up with a way, a device, a plan in order to realize the architectural simplicity of Yamasaki's concept.

But I had the kind of background that very few structural engineers had. I was a pretty good mathematician; I knew a lot about the dynamics of structures and even the dynamics of electrical circuits.

In addition to that, I wasn't burdened with the baggage of having done it before, I could sort of look at all those ideas and choose from them, and develop new ones and make, I think, a new kind of building, something that hadn't been created before.

They were doing it in a way that hadn't really been tried before on anything remotely like that scale. Engineers use ideas, for the most part, that have been used before.

They couldn't do that in the World Trade Center, and so you have a cross between an engineer and a research physicist, in effect, that is being called into play to build these structures.

The first challenge came with the foundations themselves -- which would have to descend through 70 feet of water-logged landfill originally laid down by the English before reaching bedrock.

To keep the waters of the nearby Hudson at bay, Port Authority engineers constructed a gigantic concrete "bathtub" -- two blocks wide and four blocks long and seven stories high -- unearthing in the process, along with 1.

From the start, it was clear that the Port Authority's demand for vast expanses of infinitely flexible office space -- and the towering sculptural forms Yamasaki had designed to meet it -- would require a complete break with the traditional techniques of skyscraper construction, stretching back nearly a century.

It represented much more of an advance technologically than architecturally. It's unlike a traditional skyscraper that's supported by a steel or concrete gridwork of columns and beams going all the way through the building.

The Trade Center is supported mainly by its exterior walls, which were this very, very tight, tight mesh of steel, so tightly woven that it could support the weight of the building.

In a way, it's sort of like those steel mesh litter baskets that one sees out on the sidewalk, that are actually a very strong structure.

But this is stories' worth, and square rather than round. But the same kind of idea. It was built more like the wing of an airplane.

In the wing of the airplane, the strength is all in the surface of the wing, or the fuselage, in both cases. All of the interior columns that had been used in the past were a detriment.

They were harmful to the design, because we didn't want those interior columns. We wanted that weight out on the outside, where it would do some good for the stalwartness of the building in resisting these giant loads from the wind.

If you put your feet apart, and someone shoves on your shoulder, it's easy for you to stand up. And the steel on the outside of the towers was like your feet spread apart, and the shove was like the gusts of the wind, you know, in off the Atlantic Ocean.

If you put the steel out there, you could save a lot of money probably 40 percent in the total amount of steel. But it also had other implications for how you would use this building, and one of them is that you would have none of these interior columns that hold up the Empire State Building every 20 feet, messing up your floor plan.

So anybody could come in and deal with the floors however they wanted to, put up their partitions, and it was kind of real estate paradise.

Now in fact it was a design that looked great on paper. But when they went out to the wind tunnel in Fort Collins, Colorado before they put the buildings up they found out that the structure, when it was really put together, at least in miniature form, didn't work quite the way they'd expected.

It just swayed too much beyond anything that would have been remotely reasonable. In fact, they moved so far that at least one model broke and fell over in the wind.

Now, that didn't mean that the real towers would fall over. It just meant that they hadn't taken into account the tremendous forces they were going to be dealing with.

How much can a building move in the wind? How much would they oscillate? No one had ever found out. No one had ever tried to find out, even, or even thought there was an issue to find out about.

And, you know, God darn it, it worked. They kept these things from swaying beyond the tolerances that they'd set.

I used to say they move like a snake. Different from all other buildings in the world, the strength to resist the wind is in the outside walls instead of the elevator core, which is normal for all other highrise buildings in the world.

And so these towers were much stronger, if you would. All it would have taken, probably, was for some of the opponents to know what was going on behind the scenes.

When they're out in Colorado in the wind tunnel, and one of the models fell over, put that in one New York newspaper, and there's no World Trade Center.

When they're out in Eugene, Oregon, testing people in a room, and people are getting sick as they go back and forth as the motion of the building is being simulated, again, put that in one television program in prime time in New York City.

It's very hard to see how the World Trade Center was going to be built. But the Port Authority successfully walled off that and other information from the public in the way that shows how good they were, how good Austin Tobin was.

Huge prefabricated elements, constructed all over the United States, with materials that came from all over the world, and finally assembled into one building in New York City.

And all of that was coordinated through our offices. And I still see Mr. Koch from time to time and I remind him, not one ironworker was killed in the construction of the World Trade Center.

And this is what they used to do. They'd be up on the steel, and they'd look out, and they'd say, "We're going to be all right today, boys. Koch just went to mass.

He went at eight o'clock every morning. And they said, "That takes care of us for the day. Now of course, the building lent itself to that because we put steel up on the outside walls.

And then you could only fall two or three floors, if you ever fell off. But that was the way it was. And of course there had been in New York two incidences of aircraft impact, the most famous one of course being on the Empire State Building.

Now, we were looking at an aircraft not unlike the Mitchell bomber that ran into the Empire State Building. We were looking at aircraft that was lost in the fog, trying to land.

It was a low-flying, slow-flying , which was the largest aircraft of its time. And so we made calculations, not anywhere near the level of sophistication that we could today.

But inside of our ability, we made calculations of what happened when the airplane goes in and it takes out a huge section of the outside wall of the building.

And we concluded that it would stand. It would suffer but it would stand. And the outside wall would have a big hole in it, and the building would be in place.

What we didn't look at is what happens to all that fuel. And perhaps we could be faulted for that, for not doing so. But for whatever reason we didn't look at that question of what would happen to the fuel.

It was inconceivable at the time that it would also have to be protected against a year plane crash -- or a year fire. They really didn't know much about fire.

And they really didn't pay much attention to fire. The structure they finally came up with worked just as good as the traditional ones in battling the wind and holding up against gravity.

But they were much lighter. The steel was lighter, thinner. And you know how if you slice up an ice cube and put it in your drink it will, it will melt faster than if you have a whole ice cube.

Well, that's the way of these lighter structures. They would heat up faster in a fire. The real question is: Should they have been able to anticipate that this was something that they would have to protect against?

And I just don't know the answer to the question. It represented a way of building that had in fact already begun to be discredited.

And by the time the Trade Center was finished in the 70s, there were lots of other things to express a sort of shift in attitude.

So the World Trade Center was an enormous project with a very long gestation period, that was sort of out of date by the time it was finished, which made it, in a way, all the sadder.

The Vietnam War has ripped the country apart. The divisiveness of the young versus the old, the "haves" versus the "have nots," had never been greater than perhaps except in the case of the Civil War.

And there were these two monsters, huge, undifferentiated buildings, rising here, and the context around them hadn't even been finished.

In April , progress on the towers was slowed when scores of construction workers clashed violently with antiwar demonstrators on the streets of Lower Manhattan.

By then, public sentiment about the project and its builders had begun to shift dramatically, and even Austin Tobin had begun to lose his way. He's starting to battle with New Jersey governor Cahill.

He's also losing the battle on mass transit. His reputation in the press is taking a dive. He's always had very careful control of the press, partly through his chief press officer, Lee Jaffe, through all those years, very carefully managed kind of guy, someone who didn't have to deal with these little details like legislatures, mayors, the citizenry of New York City.

And by the time the towers are finished it's no longer fun for him. He's really become embittered. And I remember thinking, you know, this whole thing is a sort of gargantuan piece of banality.

And generally the tallest buildings come before the break in the cycle, before a crash. And that was the case with the World Trade Center. The fiscal crisis, the energy crisis, all kinds of crises in New York, a social crisis as well, befell New York in the -- in the mids and affected the fortunes of the city in many ways beyond the sheer revenues of trade and of business.

Finally, at a. To celebrate the momentous occasion, workers raised a foot-tall Christmas tree on the southeast corner of the building.

The reason I remember it is the last piece of steel went up and the next day the first tenant moved into the bottom of the building. Actually two tenants moved in that day, and on the ninth and 10th floors.

In all, a total of , tons of structural steel -- nearly four times that of the Empire State Building -- had been raised 1, feet into the sky -- 25 stories taller than the top floor of Al Smith's beloved uptown landmark, and feet higher than the tip of its great Art Deco mooring mast.

To a remarkable degree, however, the achievement would go all but ignored -- obscured by the growing troubles of the city below, and by the rising tide of criticism that now began to engulf the project just as it neared completion.

This was a city that was getting into more and more trouble, where the city finances were terrible, where crime was rising, where all of the problems that then came to a head in '75, where the almost bankruptcy of the city, were all there.

And yet they were putting this building up! And you'd say, "What's going on? One critic dismissed them as "a standing monument to architectural boredom," another as "the largest aluminum siding job in the history of the world.

The windows are so narrow that one of the miraculous benefits of the tall building, the panoramic view out, is destroyed.

These are big buildings but they are not great architecture. The reason it was filled up was because the space was cheaper than a comparable space in lower buildings.

They hated it because the elevator systems, nuisance to go up and down. It was like you planned whether you had to actually leave your office because it was so inconvenient.

I think the Trade Center was also a terrible failure on an urban design level or a public space level. The plaza was dead. The plaza managed to be dead, not only in day-to-day use, or even for the occasional festival, but could never quite fill it.

It just resisted vitality. The plaza in front of the World Trade Center was a concrete football field.

It was not an appealing place at all. Most of the shopping and activity took place underground, which was at a further remove from the street life of New York.

The buildings only succeeded as abstract objects. They did succeed ultimately pretty well as abstract objects, but it is not out of abstract geometric forms that you make a city.

You make a city out of street life. And the World Trade Center pushed away the street life of Lower Manhattan in favor of something very different.

Almost immediately, the basic premise upon which the towers had been built -- the desirability of concentrating trade-related businesses under a single roof -- was shown to have little basis in reality.

Despite vigorous efforts to promote the complex, few tenants signed up. Governor Nelson Rockefeller committed to putting offices of the State of New York into one tower, and the Port Authority moved all of its own offices into the other.

So in fact, it was mostly a big civic boondoggle, in effect, and had only a minimal amount of tenants who were actually part of the original concept.

Far from revitalizing the fortunes of Lower Manhattan, the World Trade Center had flooded the market with millions of square feet of unwanted office space -- deepening the district's economic woes still further.

Your building then is not worth as much, because your building, by the way, does pay taxes. And yet you've got fewer tenants, so that what we have done here in New York City, at least according to the critics was, we built a new building that we don't need.

We've reduced the value of the old buildings that we already had and were paying taxes and supporting the police and the schools and fire and everything else, so we've in a sense compounded our mistake.

The fiscal crisis would hit. The buildings would remain largely empty for many years. They would consume the kind of energy -- on their floors with fluorescent lights that had only one switch and where it was simply on or off.

There was in every way a kind of symbol of empty wastefulness that represented an over-reaching ambition perhaps on the part of Americans and a blind eye to the environment and to other kinds of social equations that seemed to be lost in this sort of blank symbolism of these two great icons.

The guest of honor, Secretary of Labor Peter Brennan, never showed up. Nor did New York's mayor, John Lindsay.

Nor to the astonishment of those present did the man most responsible for the project, Austin Tobin, who had retired from the Port Authority the year before, worn out and disheartened.

When a reporter asked why he had missed the historic ceremony, Tobin replied simply, "Because it was raining. He never moved into the World Trade Center.

And he really hardly goes down there until he is dying of cancer. So is it sad? Yes, it's extremely sad.

It's a very sad and unexpected end to the story, because this guy was one of the most powerful and most efficient and admired and studied bureaucratic leaders in the history of the United States.

But his crowning achievement turns out to be, in the end, a big draft of bitterness for him. And Austin, we knew, was very sick. And I got a call one day, and he came down in a wheelchair.

And I wheeled him out to the plaza. And he asked if he could be left alone. And Austin sat in that wheelchair for almost two hours. And he looked at the plaza and the great sculpture that was in the plaza, and he could see the hotel and the Customs House and the commodity building and the Nagare sculpture's beautiful, and Fritz Koenig's sculpture, which was in the middle of that fountain.

Those were great works of art. And I remember leaving him there, and then I came and got him. And I never saw him again after that.

He died almost within weeks after that one moment, two hours, being out there looking at the plaza of the World Trade Center, named after him.

For six years following his epiphany in the dentist's office in Paris, Philippe Petit had nurtured his dream -- painstakingly perfecting his skills as a high wire artist, and devouring everything he could find about the twin towers.

That was my first little entry the first day I saw New York. I remember my first encounter with the the Twin Towers.

I got out of the subway -- it was a long subway ride -- and out of the darkness I emerged at the base of one of the tower, and look up. And like a slap in the face I saw that my dream was impossible.

I mean, it was right there in aluminum and glass and steel and concrete behind it. It was right there. And yet somehow I actually find myself trespassing over the plaza, still under construction, and sneaking in one of the tower and climbing and climbing inside the building, until I find myself very close to the top, and until there were no more windows, no more partitions.

There were just the skeleton, the beautiful steel columns and beams of the building. And then I emerge and there were no gates.

There were nothing to protect you from the devouring void. And I stand and I looked. But I'll do it. And there was the beginning of a second wave of work -- the real work, the work of getting into the building, not into archaeological findings or architectural magazines, but this time it was the monster, the beast, getting into the belly of the beast every day, which I did, hiding myself, disguising myself, sneaking, being caught, abandoning the project, going back to it, for eight months -- eight months in New York.

And the towers, the more I got to know them, the more they become an ally. That's why, when I say I conquered them, probably it's wrong.

I married them, certainly. But they became my friends. Remember now, I had opened the tower at the end of '70 and I wanted public relations.

I needed publicity. I had at least 10 million, 12 million square feet of space, etc. And one day a young journalist, he said he was, named Philippe Petit from France, showed up in my office with two photographer friends of his.

These were his buddies. At six o'clock on the evening of Tuesday, August 6th, -- while one team made its way up into the north tower -- Petit -- delirious with exhaustion, and seething with the holy madness of his dream -- slipped up to the top of the south tower, with two confederates posing as deliverymen in tow -- carrying with them three heavy crates filled with equipment, including a disassembled balancing pole, wire for rigging, feet of one-inch braided steel cable, and a bow and arrow.

So how to get that fishing line across? It's like feet from center of roof to center of roof, roughly. We had all kind of ideas.

And the idea that prevailed was the one I thought was ridiculous, was a bow and arrow. But it actually worked. So with a fishing line and a bow and arrow we passed the first line across.

And then all night we pulled, and then the cable was secured. One thousand three hundred and sixty feet below, Wall Street was just beginning to come to life when, at a little past seven on the morning of August 7th, , Philippe Petit stepped out onto the slender, thrumming wire that stretched out across the immense shimmering void.

That's where you start feeling yourself living. So when my I found myself one foot on the wire, one foot on the building, and ready to decide to shift my weight to become a bird it was not something new.

And after a few steps, I knew I was in my element. I didn't even took the full length of the crossing to get to know the rigging and the vibration of the building and the wire.

And then, very slowly as I walked, I was overwhelmed by a sense of easiness, a sense of simplicity. And actually I can be seen on the first pictures smiling, smiling probably out of disbelief.

It's so easy, after all those years and months of ups and down and detours, victories and disasters. Finally I was carrying my life on a path that was the simplest, the most beautiful, and the easiest.

There were thousands of people, at some point a hundred thousand people. And actually, at some point during these different crossings, I actually could hear my audience a quarter of a mile below.

And I could hear them punctuating what I was doing on the wire. Let's say if I would take a bow on one leg, or salute the horizon, or kneel in front of a tower to say hello to the tower, I would hear, almost with an echo, the people cheering, screaming, applauding.

And on the day in question the light went on. And the patrolman at the police desk said, "Mr. T, there's a problem in the World Trade Center.

What should we do? I said, "Don't let him fall off," and I hung up. So then I drove a little further. I called back. I said, "By the way, this is incredible.

There's somebody walk-- If he doesn't fall off, and he comes off, don't arrest him. Charles Daniels of the Port Authority Police never forgot the things he saw that day.

And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire.

He then went down to one knee and we stepped to the background and I said for everyone to be quiet. And at this time he laid down on the high wire and you know, just lackadaisically rolled around on the wire like.

He got up he started walking and laughing and dancing. And he turned around and ran back out into the middle.

He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again. Unbelievably really.

To the point that we just everybody was spellbound in the watching of it. And I personally figured I was watching something that somebody else would never see again in the world.

Thought it was once in a lifetime. I had a sense of having a communion with the city of New York, represented by the crowd below.

I had a sense of having stepped in other worldly matters. At some point in one of the crossing, I lay down on the wire and looked at the sky, and I saw a bird above me.

And again, because of my sense were decouplated, I could see that bird pretty high up, and I saw the eyes were red. And I thought of the myth of Prometheus there.

But the bird was circling and looking at me as if I was invading his territory, as if I was trespassing, which I was.

So my intuition told me it was time for me to close the curtain of this very intimate performance, it was a walk between me and the towers and I landed on the same tower from which I started, the south tower, and then I had the octopus of the authority, you know, grab me by their hundreds of arms.

There's no why. Just because when I see a beautiful place to put my wire, I cannot resist. But I was just looking what I had in front of me. I have really something which was huge and incredible, you know.

So afraid, not, but living more than a thousand percent. So perhaps that's close to afraid, I don't know. But at the same time I was happy, happy, happy, happy.

It's as essential as a road to walk on and as bread to eat. I would have feel myself dying if this dream would have been taken away from me by reason.

The dream was as big as the towers. There was no way it could be taken away from me by authority, by reason, by destiny.

It was really anchored to me in such a way that life was not conceivable without doing this. As Guy Tozzoli had predicted, the exploit was front page news around the country and around the world, and Petit himself became an instant folk hero, and nowhere more so than in New York.

In the end, thanks in large part to Tozzoli himself, who personally interceded with the judge, all charges were dropped, and the year-old Frenchmen was sentenced instead to perform for a group of children in Central Park.

He said, "I don't care about your architect and your plans for world trade, I'm gonna walk this thing. But it was an astonishing moment.

And after that it never happened again. It's as if you did that once. It was not to be repeated.

You know. It's just that this guy had done this, and it made the towers belong, if you would, more to New York. In honor of his achievement, the Port Authority presented him with a free lifetime pass to the observation deck on the south tower -- where on a bright, windswept afternoon not long after his historic walk, he signed his name in indelible ink on a steel beam overlooking the vast canyon where he had danced among the clouds.

In the years to come, he would return to the high perch whenever he could -- trying, without success, to relive the amazing walk in his mind -- and hoping to catch a glimpse one more time of the valiant seagull he had once seen sailing high above him a quarter of a mile in the sky.

Though few people realized it at the time, Petit's extraordinary exploit marked a crucial turning point in the life of the twin towers, and in the life of the beleaguered city that was their home.

In the decades to come, the fortunes of both would undergo a remarkable transformation, as the foundering city, all but written off in the darkest hours of the fiscal crisis, began to rise again in new and unexpected ways -- and as the World Trade Center itself, a hollow mockery when it opened in , finally began to fulfill the grandiose promise of its name.

It was a little bit like the World Series, not really having much to do with the rest of the world. It might have been more convincing if it had been called something like the Manhattan Business Center.

And in that sense, the two tallest towers in New York were really bound to symbolize economic globalization, even if people living in Manhattan just thought they were the biggest shadow-casting pieces of real estate downtown.

In , the observation deck atop the south tower was opened to the public for the first time -- and almost overnight became one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

One year later, on July 4th , the nation's bicentennial celebration came to a stunning climax in New York harbor -- where thousands of small boats and dozens of tall ships could be seen parading majestically against the breathtaking backdrop of the soaring twin towers.

That same year, a spectacular rooftop restaurant opened for business on the th and th floors of the north tower. If money and power and ego could create this extraordinary pleasure and instant landmark, money and power and ego could rescue the city from its ashes.

They began to adopt it. And it was great. It was so successful that you had to wait seven months to get a Saturday night reservation there, unless you knew somebody.

It was incredible. And we were consistently the highest grossing restaurant in the whole world. One would hope that the building would have a human dimension in its design.

That has always been debatable, with the case of the Trade Center. But events did happen that showed that this could be brought into the city and into the life of the city.

Another thing about the Trade Center that changed it was the whole changing character of Lower Manhattan. People began to live downtown.

And they rather liked the Trade Center, the big open space. And then the people living in Tribeca -- also the people living in Battery Park City began to see these buildings as an identifiable landmark in their neighborhoods, in their daily lives.

You know, you could orient yourself. You knew where you were in relationship to the Trade Center towers. That stuff was rented commercially. Through the s, the buildings filled up.

In the s, they became truly profitable and gained a kind of credibility in the commercial real estate market that had been predicted at the very beginning but not realized for over 20 years.

The Trade Center was self-supporting. So, you know, it worked. And then all those buildings in Lower Manhattan, all the jobs that it created for people.

First of all, economically, had they not been there in the late s when New York City suddenly boomed practically like no place on the planet, the city needed all 10, 15 million square feet of office space that those buildings provided.

If they were not there, so many other companies would have had to go elsewhere. So we had that space. And so in a sense, they helped make possible the renaissance of New York in the s.

So in a way, the World Trade Center became more and more truly a "world trade center" over time, and by the s, perhaps for the first time, really was worthy of that name.

And I'm not sure how far Americans, particularly New Yorkers, quite saw that it was a symbol of economic globalization.

In less than two decades, the cultural and commercial energies unleashed by the forces of globalization had breached political and ideological barriers around the world -- defeating and absorbing many of America's one-time enemies behind the Iron Curtain -- linking the economic fortunes of distant nations as never before -- setting whole populations and cultures on the move -- and sending millions of new immigrants from every corner of the globe flooding into New York City -- in numbers that rivaled, and with a diversity that far exceeded, even that of the great immigration of a century before.

No building in New York, or for that matter, in the world, symbolized those astonishing transformations more dramatically than the World Trade Center itself -- which by the late s had become a microcosm of the new global culture: humming with electronic financial transactions 24 hours a day, and home to a bewilderingly diverse working population, that included Sikh computer programmers, Israeli accountants, Turkish engineers and financial experts from emerging markets in Malaysia, Syria, Uruguay and Ghana.

Numbered among the tall towers' window washers were men who hailed from Poland, Yugoslavia, Albania, Turkey and Ireland. The 79 employees at Windows on the World included immigrants from 30 different countries.

It inhales capital. It inhales people. The huge increase in flows of capital and people into the United States, which characterized the s and s, undoubtedly created a kind of asymmetry.

And so although economically the United States was completely integrated into the world economy, politically it was becoming more and more detached from it; the myths which go right back to the very foundation of the United States, about the special providence that exempts the U.

I mean this proves incredibly tenacious, and people are still clinging to this in the s, when it's absolutely clear that the U. It killed six people, which is about as minimal a number as you could think of at the World Trade Center.

But we didn't take that threat seriously enough, I think. We took it seriously, but not seriously enough. Immense towers now soared high into the air in cities around the world.

Jet planes moved people and goods at high speed across the skies, while global broadcast networks and new digital media sped images and information around the world instantaneously.

Thanks in large part to the astonishing projective power of American commercial culture -- which had now penetrated to every corner of every nation in the world -- the twin towers had become the most familiar structures on the most familiar skyline in the world -- and the ultimate emblem of the forces of globalization, still making their restless way across the globe.

New York itself, meanwhile -- having reaffirmed its status as the city at the center of the world -- had emerged as one of the most strangely paradoxical cities on earth -- at once bewilderingly diverse and cosmopolitan -- and yet, as its own citizens often freely acknowledged, strikingly insular and inward-looking.

We like to. In its better guise, it is about awareness and sophistication and connection and knowing what the world is. But Cosmopolitanism can sometimes also mean a degree of self-absorption that blinds you to things outside.

And maybe we've just been spending too much time, you know, staring at ourselves and thinking that the world begins at the Hudson River and ends at the East River, and there isn't anything else.

Cosmopolitan people are also often people who have substantial powers of denial. Maybe we just didn't want to see what we didn't want to see.

The fact that just this physical creation, you know, could be destroyed that took years and years and years to do, to conceive, to plan, to execute.

I guess, again, it's like us, you know. We're, it takes us a lifetime to create the person we are and can be wiped out in a single mistake or accident.

And so it is with cities and buildings. I mean, death of someone you know or someone you love. I don't know how many people loved those buildings, but certainly a lot of people knew them.

And then they were gone. I mean, how can it be that something that extreme can happen so quickly and so irreversibly?

Can't we just kind of reel that backward a little bit? No, we can't. We can't do it any more with those buildings than with death, and I think the emotional reaction is very similar.

This was a public death. As a newspaper man, I've seen other horrors, wars, and the earthquake in Mexico in '85, which killed 20, people.

But that was an act of nature, not of man. The combination of the death, the spectacular event of the two skyscrapers collapsing, and the motivations behind it all those things, I think, made this something that just struck a knife right into the heart of every New Yorker, knowing that we'd never be able to look at our city the same way again.

So that's a new thing. Secondly the public focus on this. Never in the history of the world has there been anything even close -- there's not really a second place.

The second place would probably be the assassination of President Kennedy you know, a world event where the world is focused on that story -- but nothing like this, where it's seen instantaneously as it happens by tens of millions of people around the globe.

Of course people were talking about how it looked like something in a disaster movie. We could only think in terms of life imitating art, because we had no other thing to compare it to.

So people went to the movies and compared it. Everything about its trajectory was wrong. Marine who feels a calling to help in the rescue efforts and discovers the two cops.

I was a newspaper editor in , and I personally knew and interviewed two of the heroic New York firemen who spent the most hours at ground zero, trying to dig out survivors.

But most of the people they dug out were dead.. Both of these young men eventually became disabled with lung disease, and I'm not sure if they're still alive today.

Even though I went through a few tissues watching this film, my ultimate reaction was anger toward the heartless terrorists who did this.

A Wisconsin police officer in the film who volunteers to help with the recovery calls them "bastards. I found this to be a very powerful and riveting movie.

I had feared it was just another 'disaster movie', No. It is not just another disaster movie. I hadn't realized until after I had watched it that it was an Oliver Stone movie.

As with some of his other movies, it puts you 'in the moment' there with the characters, and I feel it captures as close to the reality as could be accomplished for the big screen.

I had to read some of the one star reviews after watching the movie, and each that I read was because the customer either had purchased the DVD and it didn't play, or had paid for it yet couldn't watch it.

None of those I read referred to the movie itself, but I didn't read them all, I don't think. From the first ten minutes until the end, I didn't have a normal breath.

Then had to walk around quietly for a time. So many of us lived it again. The years have not stayed the pain and anger. Perhaps movies like these are a cartharsis, a purging of the intensity of the shock and all that went with it.

Very well done Thanks, Amazon for offering this. The attack killed over 2, people to date it's taken well over 3, American lives. Of the people killed were innocent civilians, police officers, firefighters, and other first- responders.

I thank Oliver Stone for bringing this story to life. This movie shows the courage of all Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to try to save others.

The acting was superlative from all the actors involved. Nicholas Cage, Michael Pena, and all the others gave us a magnificent film.

I can only imagine how many people cried when they saw this movie. The first time i saw this movie i cried. I also cried on that horrible day that these acts of terrorism were committed as others did.

I almost universally like Nicolas Cage movies, but this was crap. Sure, many people think Cage is a bad actor, I happen to think he's pretty good, but this was so poorly done I can't even believe it was an Oliver Stone movie.

Maybe Stone just isn't that good. Besides Cage, there were a couple other familiar faces who weren't too bad, but most of the cast was either unknown are not memorable because they aren't good enough actors to leave an imprint.

The movie starts out at a mid-pace, and then 20 minutes in it drops to a dead crawl. After that it's all over the board. The flow is inconsistent, and the scene arrangement seems out of order half the time.

Anyway, just wait until you see the pregnant woman and who her partner is. Out of all the millions of normal couples in New York, they highlight this?

So there it is, another thing to not like about this Cage movie. What a shame. You should pass this one up unless you are very easily distracted.

Like most Americans, I often struggle with this event in history, having watched it that morning on TV. Feeling completely helpless and unable to do anything, other than to pray for the lives that were being affected.

This movie captures the drama that unfolded in how families were being ripped apart, some forever. To see what some of these men went through in the real footage used in the film, it's heart breaking.

But, having said this, this movie captures the dignity of two brave men that were there just doing what they loved best; rushing into harms way when others would not.

The acting is riveting, the scenes are so real. The chirps of the pagers after the towers fell This movie garnering a 6. It's compelling to watch and pulls at your heart.

In my mind, it's one of the best movies from A movie that was well done, a story that was well told. Great movie, tells the story of 2 of only 20 people rescued after the collapse of the towers.

This story is not well known, and is very well done here. The movie shows the richness of the lives lost in any tragedy, turning names and numbers into real people and families.

The film also does an excellent job recognizing the greatness of all the people who put themselves at risk to help others, and the power of people when they come together for an important cause and rise above petty divisions, whether in communities or families.

See all reviews. Top reviews from other countries. This is, in some ways, an excellent film. But it also has some issues.

The story of two Port Authority policemen trapped in the rubble of the titular World Trade Center is certainly compelling.

Indeed, I came to this movie from the excellent Only Plane In The Sky, a book which includes firsthand accounts from the real life protagonists depicted in this film.

But it's also cinematically challenging, as the two key characters are trapped and stationary for a large chunk of the movie, which - whilst handled as well as one might hope it could be - is dramatically somewhat flat or turgid.

To get around this we flit back and forth between the the trapped cops and their friends and family. And there are also some issues, as far as I'm concerned, with America's whole view of these momentous events.

As a result of this Ameri-centric blind-spot, an air of injured and affronted innocence dominates the film, and is a kind of corollary to the implicit 'NIMBY' parochialism so often displayed by the people of hubristic imperialist powers.

And in a similar manner, it's annoying that the character of the ex-Marine rescuer who locates our two wounded warriors - an African American - is portrayed by a white actor Michael Shannon as Dave Carnes.

The film-makers claimed they didn't know! That seems fairly implausible - surely they did some research? Nevertheless, this is a powerful movie about an epoch-making day, and the very human fall-out of history in the making.

Flawed, yes, but still well worth watching. SEE IT. This is simply one of those films that everyone must see at all costs no matter what.

The story is well known and true and demands to be heard and seen. What better man for the job than Oliver Stone.

World Trade Center Film Stream News und Stories

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