The World Trade Center was built cheaply

New York: New World Trade Center has reached its final height

And suddenly they are back again, the two towers. One can clearly see the simple glass facades, glistening in the sun, which once rose 110 stories high into the sky. Right hand the south tower and left in front of one the north tower. The sky over New York on this late afternoon is as bright blue and decorated with white fleecy clouds as it was back then, on the last visit to the large plaza in front of the World Trade Center in 2000 - when the two towers were still standing and the term terrorism was still a very abstract one was.

We took photos of the twin towers back then - at least what we could get from the two 415 meter high buildings in the picture. From the front, the side, from below. 35,000 people worked in the two towers alone, for 430 companies, on 930,000 square meters. The building complex even had its own zip code, 10048.

And it was adorned by the huge bronze globe that the Landshut artist Fritz Koenig designed for the spacious space between the towers. "The Sphere" is now a few hundred meters away in Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan - dented, full of holes and a bit sad. An eternal light burns in front of it, and the work of art is a fun playground for the many squirrels that frolic around the boat dock for the trips to the Statue of Liberty.

Ground Zero is intended to commemorate the terrorist attacks of September 11th

The bullet was dug out of the rubble, it survived 9/11. The day of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, on which 19 terrorists from the Islamist extremist group Al Qaeda hijacked four passenger planes, two of them into the twin towers and a third into the center of power, the Pentagon in Washington. 2977 people from more than 90 countries lost their lives - the oldest victim 85, the youngest just two years old. America has since become vulnerable. For years, a huge hole in the middle of Manhattan that had been torn by the terrorist attacks gaped as a kind of memorial. Where the old twin towers and five other buildings stood, the square has been called "Ground Zero" ever since. And there is the most sensitive and at the same time the best guarded construction site in the world. Huge concrete anti-tank barriers secure the site. And lots of police.

For years it was impossible to see behind the high, thick construction fences what was being built 60 meters below the surface. It is the foundation for the new World Trade Center with memorial and museum, subway station, shops and offices. The entire project is expected to cost almost four billion dollars.

"New" World Trade Center: tallest building in the United States

Now New York has a new landmark that is also its old one. The new World Trade Center is ready - at least its height expansion is complete. The buildings around it are still being built heavily. At the 9/11 Museum as a center of remembrance too.

But the city has the tallest building in the United States again with the 541-meter-high tower on which the top has been placed. Just as the twin towers were once the tallest structures in New York, but not in the USA. The Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago was 527 meters taller than the old World Trade Center - but now it is 14 meters smaller. There are only two taller buildings in the world: the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates (829 meters) and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Saudi Arabia (601 meters).

"Freedom Tower" symbol of resilience in the USA

"This is a symbolic moment, because this building represents the resilience of this country," said Vice Chairman of the New York Port Authority, Scott Rechler, while construction workers were still assembling the 124 meter high tower element last Friday, which was broadcast live on television. Seven years after the official groundbreaking, the tower, which was originally supposed to be called “Freedom Tower” and is now officially simply called “One World Trade Center” after its simple postal address, has earned its title as the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

Once you've got hold of one of the free entry tickets to the 9/11 memorial and passed the extensive security checks, you can't escape the poignant symbolism of this place. The 541 meters that the skyscraper now rises up are 1776 feet in American terms - an allusion to the year the USA was founded. And today the memorial for the victims of terrorism stands on the ground plan of the former twin towers.

In between, the so-called survival tree gets fresh leaves. The Chinese wild pear was planted in the plaza of the original World Trade Center in the 1970s. It stood on the eastern edge of the site and was dug out of the rubble by the rescue workers. Only a two and a half meter high stump remained of the tree - but it survived.

Tallest man-made waterfalls in Ground Zero

Then there they are again, the pictures of the old towers. The few steps away that you remember. The spacious place with the benches on which you could relax. It feels like it did back then - and yet different. Like footprints, water falls into two square basins on the former base of the twin towers and then into an empty room - nine meters deep. They are the tallest man-made waterfalls in North America, surrounded by wide, sleek bronze bezels. 2983 names are milled into it: the names of the victims of September 11th and the six names of the victims of the terrorist attack of February 26th, 1993, when Islamist terrorists detonated an explosive device in the underground car park under the World Trade Center.

"This memorial is intended to remind us of the enormous losses we suffered on September 11th, but it should also serve as a symbol of hope for the future," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the opening of the memorial on the 10th anniversary of the Attacks in 2011. In front of the two pools, everyone is still. Even the young women, packed with shopping bags from the neighboring designer low-cost department store “Century 21”, who were just chattering cheerfully about their purchases, read quietly and enter all the names that are lined up next to one another. Again and again there are white, red and yellow roses in between, with "Sean P. Lynch" a small folded note. Police officers patrol with explosive dogs, tourists take photos.

One World Trade Center: to open in 2014

The long discussions about the correct, dignified development of the site are forgotten at this place. The problems with funding the project. And the hiccup over the designs of star architect Daniel Libeskind, who wanted to build a much more original “Freedom Tower” in 2002. But the owners - the port authorities of New York and New Jersey as well as Silverstein Properties - considered it too utopian and had the American David Childs design a simpler tower.

The upper floors of the new New York jewel are still unclad, and the inside of the skyscraper is far from finished. It should open next year. And 55 percent of the office and retail space should already be let. If you look at the skyline at night, the windows of the tower are already illuminated. But despite the slim, new skyscraper, there remains a gap for the viewer who knows the view of the city's silhouette before the attacks.