We have our very own hometown hero here in Glen Ridge: Steve Plate, the Director of Construction for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It’s quite a title because he has quite a job: directing the construction of the entire World Trade Center site. Being a former mayor of our town, he invited the current mayor and town council (on which my husband sits) to tour the site. It was an amazing day.
Here’s Steve (on the right) with our current mayor Peter Hughes (on the left). We all had to wear those goofy hard hats and since it was a cold day we wore our own hats under them.
Like so many people who survived the tragedy of 9/11, Steve has his own story. On the morning of September 11, 2001, he was on his way out the door to catch his usual train to work when his oldest son guilted him into giving him a ride to school. Steve missed his train. If he hadn’t, he would have been in his office at the top of the World Trade Center and he would have died. So Steve isn’t just doing his job, he is building this project as a personal tribute to all of his colleagues who perished.
In fact, he says that many, many of the people working on the project are there because they want to pay tribute to those who were lost in the attacks. They see the rebuilding as something greater than just a construction project.
Now that I’m teary-eyed, on to some facts and figures. The site is 16 acres, of which half is devoted to the Memorial Pools (more on that later). There are multiple construction projects going on simultaneously: Tower 1, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, which is under Steve’s supervision; Towers 2, 3, and 4 which a private developer is building; the Memorial Pools, which opened on the 10-year anniversary of the attack; the transportation hub; the vehicle security center (no vehicles will have direct access to the towers without passing through this sophisticated scanning process); a performing arts center; and the 9/11 museum.
The scope of the project is mind-boggling. Steve cuts $200 million in checks a month! All the materials have to come in through the narrow streets of downtown New York City with a minimum of interruption to the city’s daily flow of traffic and commuters. Below is a small part of the construction site:
Here is just a sampling of the mass of materials:
But what’s amazing is that out of all this comes this beautiful tower, rising up from the ashes.
See that elevator going up the side of the building? We rode up in it to the 86th floor which was the top one under construction that day. Actually, it was the top one with a floor to walk on. Steve told us, “First comes steel, then concrete.”
Here’s the view, through the safety netting.
And here I am, rocking the construction helmet, in front of the New Jersey skyline.
Steve gave us special pens to write our names on the girders (like the one behind me in this photo) which will be covered with finishing materials. It is very moving to think that my name will always be part of 1 World Trade Center.
Next week I’ll show you how the past is being commemorated at the World Trade Center site.