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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
World Trade Center: A global landmark
World Trade Centre, New York
The World Trade Center dominated the New York skyline
The World Trade Center, situated in New York's financial district, was once one of the most potent symbols of the financial might of the United States.

It provided one of the most popular postcard views of New York and - along with the Statue of Liberty - symbolised the city to many people.

More than 90,000 people visited the city's tallest building every day - according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey which ran the complex - and about 50,000 people worked there.
World famous landmark
More than 150,000 visitors daily
Workplace for 40,000 people
It is the world's largest commercial complex

The New York city horizon has now changed forever and Tuesday's attack may make it unlikely that US financial dominance will be so strikingly and visually represented for some time.

The idea of the Center was first conceived in the 1960s as part of an urban renewal project.

Construction of the complex, which cost $700m, began in 1973 to ''seed'' office development in a sagging Lower Manhattan and to increase the region's profile in world trade.

It became the world's largest commercial complex, housing by some estimates about 1,200 companies, other businesses, government agencies and international trade organisations.

The Center was actually seven buildings - a complex comprising various offices and a shopping concourse - but to most people the World Trade Center means the famous 110-floor twin towers that rise 411 metres (1,350 feet) above the ground.

The center was fully rented out when the building collapsed on Tuesday.

In the weeks prior to the explosion, local newspaper headlines had centered on fierce competition between developers - eager for the prestige - to lease the building for the next 99 years.

Potential mayoral candidates argued over the use to which this money could be put, with some arguing that it could be used to regenerate social housing.

Politicians and business people were not the only ones to gravitate to the center - in 1974, Philippe Petit tightroped between the two towers.

Targeted in the past

Apart from its iconic status, it offered trade-education services, group trade missions, temporary offices and information for visitors to the city.

Its high profile has made it a target for attack before.

In February 1993, a massive truck bomb was set off in the Centre's underground parking garage, damaging parts of the complex, causing more than $300m in damages.

Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine other militant Islamists, including nationals of Sudan, Egypt and Jordan, were convicted in 1995 of conspiracy and other charges related to the bombing.

In 1998 the suspected mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, was also convicted of the attack and sentenced to life in addition to 240 years in prison.

Commercial centre

The World Trade Center housed well-known companies and commodity exchanges including:

  • The Coffee Sugar and Cocoa Exchange
  • The New York Cotton Exchange
  • Salomon Brothers Inc
  • American Express Bank
  • Sumitomo Bank Securities Inc
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Credit Suisse Group
  • Commerzbank
  • Deutsche Bank AG

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