What Is the History of the World Trade Center?

The World Trade Center (WTC) was a complex of seven buildings located in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. The original complex was built in the 1970s and consisted of two towers, known as the North and South Towers, with a height of 1,368 feet and 1,362 feet respectively. The WTC was one of the most recognizable landmarks in New York City until the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

The History

The idea for the World Trade Center began in the early 1940s when New York’s downtown area was congested with traffic and commerce. In 1946, the New York State Legislature passed a law authorizing the creation of a “World Trade Corporation” to oversee the development of an international trade center in New York City.

In 1960, David Rockefeller founded the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association (DLMA), which proposed building a massive office complex to revitalize lower Manhattan. Two years later, Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockefeller founded the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) to promote international trade and investment.

The Construction

Construction on the WTC began in August 1968. The project involved more than 10,000 workers and took nearly seven years to complete.

The North Tower was completed in December 1970 and opened for business in December 1971. The South Tower was completed in July 1973 and opened for business in January 1972.

The complex also included five smaller buildings known as WTC Buildings Three through Seven. These buildings were constructed between 1975 and 1985.

The Tragedy

On September 11, 2001, terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airplanes and flew them into both towers of the World Trade Center complex. Both towers collapsed within hours of being hit by the planes, killing nearly 3,000 people.

In addition to the loss of life, the attack caused extensive damage to nearby buildings and infrastructure. The cleanup and recovery process took months, with many workers risking their lives to search for survivors and clear debris.

The Aftermath

Following the 9/11 attacks, plans were made to rebuild the World Trade Center. The new complex includes One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower), which opened in 2014. The building stands at 1,776 feet tall and is now the tallest building in the United States.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum was also constructed on the site of the original complex. The memorial features two reflecting pools where the North and South Towers once stood, as well as a museum that displays artifacts from the attacks.

  • Today, Lower Manhattan remains a hub for international trade and commerce.
  • The World Trade Center will always be remembered as a symbol of New York City’s resilience in the face of tragedy.


The history of the World Trade Center is one that spans several decades and has been marked by both triumphs and tragedy. While it will forever be associated with the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, it is important to also remember its initial purpose: to promote international trade and investment. Today, that legacy continues with One World Trade Center serving as a beacon of hope for New Yorkers and visitors alike.