The World Trade Centre - From Construction to 9/11


The World Trade Centre was built by the American architect Minoru Yamasaki in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At their opening in 1972 they were the world's tallest buildings. They were over 400 metres tall and were made of 200,000 tons of steel. Each tower had 110 floors and 97 elevators.

Skyscrapers of this size have to be built in solid bedrock. In New York the solid rock starts at about 15 to 20 metres below the surface. When the builders of the WTC started digging they found out that after a few metres, water from the nearby Hudson River started pouring in. So they dug out small boxes and put steel and concrete into them to give the building a firm stand.

When the World Trade Centre opened in 1973 the project was not very popular among New Yorkers. But as time went on and more and more companies started moving their offices to the twin towers they became more and more popular. The two towers also became famous through movies like “King Kong” and “Superman”.

Extreme sportsmen chose the WTC as the place to try out many stunts. Skydivers parachuted from the top of the towers, climbers went up to the top on the outside walls and a French acrobat walked from one tower to the other on a tightrope. Within a few years the towers were on postcards, T-shirts and ads.

The World Trade Centre also gave the New Yorkers another tourist attraction. On a clear day it was possible to see over 60 km in all directions. Visitors could travel up to the top of the North tower and eat in a luxurious restaurant called “Windows of the World”.


World Trade Center

The World Trade Center



The Twin Towers were like a small city. Over 500 companies , including banks, law firms, television stations and airlines had their offices here and 50,000 people worked in the two buildings every day. On a typical day as many as 200,000 visitors from all over the world passed through the buildings.


In 1993 the World Trade Centre was the target of an earlier terrorist attack. A truck with 600 kg of explosives drove into the basement garage of the building . When it exploded, a few stories were completely destroyed , but only 6 people were killed.

On September 11, 2001 , terrorists hijacked 4 airplanes and crashed two of them into the towers of the World Trade Centre. At 8:45 a.m. the first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre. 20 minutes later, the second plane hit the south tower. Flames and smoke came out of the towers and the people who were working there tried to escape. About an hour after the attack both towers collapsed.

In the months after September 11, 2001 thousands of workers helped to clean up the place where the World Trade Centre once stood - known as Ground Zero. Many architects all over the world were called to present designs for rebuilding the site. In the future, glass towers will surround a memorialof September 11.


Related Topics




  • ad = advertisement, poster , commercial
  • attraction = a very famous sight that everyone wants to see
  • basement = American word for “cellar”
  • collapse = fall down
  • concrete = you get it by mixing sand, cement, small stones and water together
  • design = new plans
  • destroy =damage completely
  • elevator = a machine that takes people from one floor of a building to another
  • explosives = material that can produce an explosion
  • firm stand = the building had a good foundation
  • flame = hot bright burning gas that you see when something is on fire
  • hijack = to use violence to take control of an airplane
  • law firm =a company that has many lawyers
  • luxurious = very expensive and beautiful
  • memorial = an object or building that remonds people of the attack
  • parachute = to jump down with a parachute
  • popular = liked by many people
  • pour = flow in
  • solid bedrock = the rock in the ground below the soil
  • stunt = something dangerous that is done to entertain people
  • surface =the top of something
  • surround = to be all around something
  • target = aim
  • tightrope = a rope high above the ground that someone walks on
  • twin =two of the same