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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 December 2006, 01:03 GMT
In pictures: Freedom Tower construction

A crane lowers the first beam of the Freedom Tower into place

The first foundation columns have been laid for the Freedom Tower that will replace the World Trade Center in New York.

The first beam is lowered into place

There were cheers as the first 31-foot (9m) beam, painted with the American flag, was lowered into place.

New York Governor George Pataki watches as a column is bolted into place

NY Governor George Pataki said: "Today the Freedom Tower rises from the ashes of September 11, and the people of New York and the people of America can be proud."

Jane Pollicino, whose husband Steve died in the World Trade Center attacks, looks at her message

More columns will be set around the perimeter of the new building over the next fortnight, among them two signed by relatives of those killed in the 9/11 attacks.

A man writes a message on one of the columns for the Freedom Tower

The skyscraper is intended to fill the void in Lower Manhattan's skyline left by the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Freedom Tower architect Daniel Libeskind inscribes a column

At 1,776ft (541m) the tower will be the tallest building in the US, and one of four skyscrapers intended for the site.

The Ground Zero site

The height in feet is symbolic, referring to the year of the American Declaration of Independence.

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