Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 22, 2014

One World Trade Center evokes admiration to Bluefield’s soaring symbol

— — What a view it was. I could see the Appalachian Power Company sign so clearly, far above the smoky railroad yard where the steam locomotive rumbled slowly along with loaded gondolas of Pocahontas coal either just in or from the “main line” through McDowell County or preparing to head downgrade toward Roanoke and on to Lambert’s Point at Norfolk.

The view was from the top of the mighty West Virginian Hotel, long famed as the tallest building in this end of the state. Exciting as it had been when the “new” JC Penney store opened across from the Daily Telegraph building on Bland Street with a sparkling new escalator, and as much fun as it was to ride the three-floor elevator in the Leggett store just down the street near the Elk building, the West Virginian experience was truly a cut above. After all, there was an elevator operator in the big hotel and for a few minutes, one could pretend that the Empire State Building was located far above Commerce Street.

With that in mind, a recent story entitled “The Top of America” by Josh Sandburn about the massive new One World Trade Center brings to mind the thrill that many of us once had — and sometimes still do — standing beside the West Virginian and looking up into the bright blue Four Seasons Country sky. How appropriate that William Cole organized the building of the local skyscraper and that Paul Cole later came up with the slogan to designate our part of the country.

Legacy is certainly a part of the huge new building in New York. A dozen years after the disaster of the 9-11 attack with the original World Trade Center, the new complex is almost ready for occupancy. It will rise a patriotic 1,776 feet above Manhattan including a spire which soars nearly 30 stories above the roof. Atop that same spire will be a new beacon with 288 5-watt LED modules so bright that on a clear night the light can be seen 50 miles away.

Ground Zero, as the area has become known, is a 16-acre site. The new building will replace the old Twin Towers. One was 1,362 feet high and the other 1,368. There is a marker on the new tower to mark the actual height of each of those. A base features many safeguards including a 186-foot distance from street level to the first windows.

Concrete nearly six feet thick makes up the perimeter. That is no ordinary concrete, either. Using a special combination of rebar and chemicals instead of water to dry the mixture, One World Trade Center’s concrete is amazingly strong. For example, normal water-dried concrete has a strength of approximately 300 pounds per square inch. The great Hoover Dam is much tougher with an estimated per square inch of 7,000, nearly double. New York’s newest building is twice that, with an incredible 14,000 per square inch. The amount is equally impressive, as builders reveal that there are 208,000 cubic yards of concrete, enough to lay a four-foot wide, four-inch deep sidewalk from New York to Chicago.

Inside the new structure, a carefully planned stairway is 50 percent larger than standard, in case of an emergency to allow occupants to reach the street and one set of steps is reserved for emergency workers. Otherwise, the 71 elevators can reach maximum speeds of nearly 23 miles per hour and a select few are capable of reaching the 100th floor in a single minute. Passageways inside One World Trade Center can be pressurized to keep out smoke and toxins.

Glass is always a priority as well as a safety concern for office windows. In One World Trade Center, there are 12,774 windows in the office section of the building. Each panel weighs in at 1,200 pounds and is thicker on the lower floors to help withstand bomb blast pressures.

All of this comes with a price tag of $3.9 billion which is about twice the price of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates, which stretches 2,717 feet into the heavens.

As the building rose, discoveries on the bottom were equally important. The Hudson River once flowed through the site, and a boat encased in old landfill was found. There were cattle bones from an old slaughterhouse and, sadly, human remains from the terrorist attacks not discovered in 2001. A 500,000-square feet structure below street level supports 1WTC.

Impressive and significant as the new building is, with all due respect many of us will never be more amazed than we were the first time we reached the Summit City’s summit 12 floors above the good earth of Mercer County.

Larry Hypes, a teacher at Tazewell High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist.


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