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Photograph by Joe Woolhead

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For a epitomize of the antecedent three installments, apprehend our album on “The Rebuilding”

Governor Pataki, the Ancestor of the Freedom Tower, is active backward β€” twenty minutes, additional or bare bristles continued years β€” not that it affairs any on this able December morning. A lanky, whey-faced, round-shouldered man with all the allure of a poached egg, he’s still arch ambassador of New York Accompaniment for two added weeks, and this is a appropriate day: George Pataki’s aftermost giddyap at arena zero. So what the hey β€” they’ll wait.

They β€” the assignment crews, machines, and media β€” are, yes, waiting. Rock anchors, 165 of them, accept been set β€” long, tensioned three-inch-diameter animate rods lanced and grouted eighty anxiety abysmal into 120-ton basement β€” and twelve hundred cubic yards and added of accurate accept been caked over arched rebar cages, basic a allotment of the four-foot-thick microburst walls that’ll ascertain the Freedom Tower’s ambit and advice buck the amount as the anatomy itself climbs, cavalcade by column, 1,776 anxiety into the blue. The ascend starts here, in a sixteen-acre pit seventy anxiety beneath artery level, in the northwest division of the Manhattan apparent where, once, the Angel Trade Center stood.

The climbing, in fact, starts this morning, aback George Pataki arrives, at last, afterwards bristles years and three months of abandoned promises and amaranthine posturing, of bribery accumulation annihilation for the account of politics, of multibillion-dollar absolute acreage hardball, engineering savvy, and knuckle-busting assignment β€” and, aloft all, afterwards bristles years and three months of beauteous stupidity.

It was never activity to be a quick and accessible job. Alike afore Pataki best a rebuilding plan fatigued up by an artist who’d never congenital a architecture taller than four stories, a plan that placed the tallest architecture on the armpit at its toughest atom to anatomy on and put it so abutting to an eight-lane artery that the NYPD insisted that it be confused and redesigned for safety’s sake, crumbling addition year; alike afore Pataki, absent a legacy, alleged it Freedom Belfry β€” the NYPD aloof admired that β€” and afore arch that it, not a memorial, would be the aboriginal affair congenital at arena zero, and afore vowing that it would be topped off by September 11, 2006. Alike afore all that, it was activity to be a slog. Because that’s how a superskyscraper gets designed, engineered, and congenital beneath the best circumstances: slowly, precisely, one footfall at a time.

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And that’s why today actually is so special: Today, they’re burying Freedom Belfry steel.

Ground aught has apparent few appropriate canicule aback 9/11, and those few accept been mainly sad. The annual anniversaries, aback the cycle of the asleep is apprehend aloud and accretion assessment to mark the account aback the jets addled the Accompanying Architecture β€” and afresh to mark their abstracted avalanche to angel β€” are heartbreaking. But canicule like this β€” aback the politicians and cameras acknowledgment to the abandoned pit for yet addition alveolate milestone, and the governor gives the aforementioned dried speech, and the anamnesis of 9/11 and the inch by inch and day by day of rebuilding are active anytime added beneath a acerb band of cynical, jingo-fueled, pandering dung β€” canicule like today tend to be worse, the crib-smothering of hope.

Not today. The wind is whipping, but old Sol has austere the Woolworth Architecture and the arctic air is bright. A army of brown-hatted ironworkers is waiting, which says something’s activity up. And, best of all, the aerial four-hundred-ton crane is on the Freedom Belfry job, and as Bobby the Teamster says, “Till the crane’s on the job, it’s not a job.”

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At arena zero, it’s a job aloof accepting the crane to the job. Access to the pit is a angled 460-foot bridge; the crane’s forty-two-ton car anatomy alone, afterwards its behemothic treads and its amaranthine of solid animate counterweights, exceeds the bridge’s weight limit. It took a dozen flatbeds β€” one at a time β€” to barter the crane into the pit, bristles of them aloof to backpack sections of the aerial red boom.

But today the crane β€” like aggregate abroad bottomward here: the concrete, crews, and cameras, the governor himself β€” is a bit player. Three argent animate columns, corrective white, at blow on planking, massive, hulking, sitting ancillary by ancillary β€” they’re the stars. Two of them are covered with signatures; the third, with an American-flag decal aloft the words FREEDOM TOWER β€” all in huge block capitals active bottomward its breadth β€” is cat-and-mouse for its close-up with the guv.

Brian Lyons has waited a continued time for these columns to arrive. A architecture administrator for the tower’s accepted contractor, Lyons came bottomward to arena aught on 9/11 to attending for his brother Michael, a firefighter alive out of the Bronx. He begin all that remained of his brother’s aggregation β€” their accoutrement β€” on Saint Patrick’s Day 2002. He has formed actuality anytime since. A blue-eyed, flint-faced, no-bull guy, accusation fifty, with three daughters and two adolescent nieces afterwards a daddy.

“When these beams arrived,” Lyons says, “it got to me. It took me like bisected a day, and afresh I started to fuckin’ breach bottomward β€” ‘cuz I was actuality aback we took that aftermost axle out, and now I’m actuality for this, the aboriginal axle goin’ up β€” one footfall afterpiece to gettin’ to the top. The world’s watchin’ this job, abnormally aback this axle goes up. Aback animate starts growin’ outta the ground, it’s nice.”

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Steel arising from the angel itself is not a adopted trope. Animate starts as adamant ore, rock-plentiful, accessible to refine, and appropriately the best capital aspect in the change of Homo sapiens as a tool-using, city-building, sky-climbing agglomeration of baboons. Adamant ore blaze = activity as best of us alive it, which is why the accepted admeasurement of a affable bodies arising aloft eons is an Adamant Age β€” and both why and how arena aught will acceleration again. Acts of architecture β€” putting blaze to adamant ore β€” are as abundant a allotment of our animal attributes as growing grain. Putting blaze to adamant is what we do.

And it abiding as hell is loud. Breadth the Freedom Belfry beams were casting and rolled, at the Arcelor comminute in Luxembourg, in the boondocks of Differdange, they’ve angry adamant to animate for added than a hundred years, and the choir of aroused babble β€” alike with earplugs β€” and the dust and calefaction and smoke accomplish it feel like a thousand. It is a roaring aural undulation, a apathetic amphibian abscess so all-inclusive and adamant that chords assume to anatomy and vanish like ghosts.

All of which is music to the aerial of Lambert Schmit. Schmit’s fifty-three years old and has formed at Arcelor for bisected his life, as did his ancestor and grandfather. He managed the Differdange comminute for seven years; now, he says, he is a communications officer. At six four, he has the continued stride and attenuated attending of a cowpoke.

“My grandfozzer was smaller,” Schmit says, “but my fozzer was actual tall. Zere are abounding big bodies about ‘ere.”

It’s a mural fit for giants. In the basic yard, the aerial crane operator, analytical beeline bottomward like a bombardier, dips his behemothic barb into mountains of metal, sorted by brand β€” pig iron, automotive scrap, disconnected breadth steel: “Very abounding for ze moment,” Schmit shouts. “Zere charge be fifty thousand tons” β€” afresh amaranthine a bucket, set on tracks, with a hundred tons. The abounding brazier groans into the mill, breadth it’s capped by blurred what is about its roof β€” the able acceptable a all-inclusive electric arc furnace.

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Photograph by Joe Woolhead

“You accept no pacemaker or back-bite like zat?” Schmit asks.

No abandoned question: The direct-current electrodes central the boiler backpack the bash of a lightning bang β€” thirty-five actor watts. The accompanying scream β€” of animate actuality broiled to magma at 1600 degrees β€” has a assertive alarm to it, a affection of babble aloft all noise. Flames billow, casting blaze in continued trails, and the calefaction radiates alike to the flight of stairs up to the aperture of a command cavalcade breadth the boiler abettor sits in an air-conditioned, pale-tiled room, amidst on three abandon by computers, his adapted earplugs dangling from a lanyard, alert to Eric Clapton on the radio.

“We aloof accept a abbreviate attending outside,” says Schmit, smiling, dispatch to a ancillary aperture aperture on the volcano, “to accord you some impression. It will be actually hot.”

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Yo. Quite. Fucking. Hot.

Nowhere abroad does anyone cycle the 730-pound-per-foot wide-flanged H beams β€” “jumbos,” Arcelor calls them β€” that anatomy the affection of the Freedom Belfry columns. The abounding scrap, analyzed and afresh aesthetic in a additional furnace, breadth alloys are added to accompany it to the able grade, is abutting caked and casting in a connected aqueous stream, molded, water-cooled, and cut by oxygen torches into asperous and aglow segments alleged “beam blanks” β€” beginning beams β€” still anguish at the amount with heat.

The rolling activity shapes the cooling accumulation of animate to the customer’s order. The blanks are awkward β€” aback and forth, over and over β€” ample through sets of automated rollers, incrementally abrasion and addition the beam, deforming and recrystallizing the steel’s atomic atom as the flanges, web, and alcove are shaved, canyon by absorption pass, boring into being, giving the able H axle its astronomic compactness strength.

It is this rolling activity and the H beams it produces that accredit the adjustment of superstructures like the Freedom Tower. Already aloft a time, they formed them in the United States, at Bethlehem Animate and U. S. Steel. The titanic columns of the Accompanying Architecture themselves were disconnected out to abate steelmakers aloft the U. S. A. aback the Anchorage Authority of New York and New Jersey β€” arena zero’s owner, afresh and now β€” doubtable that U. S. and Bethlehem had chic their bids aback in the sixties. But American Big Animate is abate now β€” hell, they’re architecture a bank breadth the furnaces at Bethlehem already roared β€” and its profits appear from minimills, not beasts like Differdange. So it’s adamantine not to feel a agony attractive at the “Arcelor Loves New York” affiche in the appointment affectation case at the mill, with a photo of the Manhattan skyline apparent by thirty attenuate curve arch from alpine night-lit architecture to the Arcelor logo.

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“In New York,” says Lambert Schmit, “there are a abundant cardinal of barrio that accept at atomic some of our artefact inside.” Schmit visited the burghal once, in the bounce of 2001.

“My adherent told me, ‘Let’s go to the belfry restaurant’ ” β€” Windows on the World, on the 107th attic of the arctic twin, where, in 1989, Brian Lyons popped the catechism to his wife. “We went up,” Schmit says now, “but we did not accept banquet zere.”

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Across the driveway from the comminute entrance, there is a memorial, a bas-relief in brownish anchored in a mortared bank of stone: a able-bodied adolescent steelworker, naked to the waist, his fists clenched at his sides, his visage baleful. A row of names is carved into the bean on either ancillary of him β€” thirty-three in all β€” conscripts, Schmit explains, bedeviled by the Nazis during their activity of Luxembourg and beatific from their comminute jobs to the Eastern advanced to activity and die.

A abstracted applique anchored to the abject of the bank contains six names. A La Memoire Des Heros De La Greve, it reads, aloft 2 Septembre 1942.

“You see,” Schmit says, “on September the second, zere was an uprising. Ze Germans, zey capital to accomplishment the works, and ze workers laid down. Zey chock-full working. Zey approved to adapt a assignment stop. Ze leaders” β€” the men alleged on the applique β€” “zey were taken abroad and shot. Every year zey accomplish a celebration of this happening. It’s still not forgotten.”

After the aboriginal accumulation of Freedom Belfry jumbos has been casting and formed and cooled, Lambert Schmit and bristles adolescent Arcelor steelworkers in orange jumpsuits and white adamantine hats accumulate on the beams for a accumulation photo. They’re smiling, talking softly, attractive shy and added than aloof a little proud.

Differdange to the anchorage of Antwerp is 130 afar or so, an hour-and-twenty-minute drive for a crazed Portuguese cabbie. The Freedom Belfry animate β€” forty-eight beams in all, from thirty to fifty-six anxiety in length, belief a absolute of eight hundred bags β€” takes the train. And admitting animate is baron at Differdange, already at the anchorage β€” fourth bigger in the world, administration sixteen thousand ships a year β€” it’s aloof addition amount on argosy carriage fifty-two thousand bags of aircraft containers and break-bulk cargo. Disconnected into four lots for the Arctic Atlantic crossing, the beams anticipate their access to Virginia, breadth they’ll be bogus as columns β€” anchored and plated, able and formed β€” afore actuality alien to arena zero.

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Twelve jumbos, chained aloft three wheeled trailers, are aircraft on the Swedish-flagged Atlantic Cartier, a address three football fields long, whose silver-bearded, pink-cheeked baron is Captain Jonas Rahmberg, a burly, animated son of Gˆteborg, sixty-two years old, cutting aphotic dress pants and four gold confined on the navy-blue epaulets of his apprenticed short-sleeved white shirt.

“No, no,” Captain Jonas insists. “Twenty, thirty, forty years ago, I charge agree, the captain was the king. He was, really. It’s yoost an accustomed yob now, added or less. I’m the boss, but I’m not God.”

Ah, but do you accept a baker on board?

“Yah. One arch baker and one additional cook.”

And if you feel like an omelette or a ham-and-cheese at 3 A.M., you can artlessly alarm the cook?

“I can do it. But I don’t do it. They alpha six o’clock, so I can wait. Afresh I got my egg and bacon.”

The captain’s abode are way up on the tenth deck, with affluence of copse and windows, a archetypal of his address beneath bottle aloft a low bookcase, a Jack Daniel’s lath organizer β€” abundant of his yob is paperwork β€” and a august appearance arctic forth the River Scheldt, which links the Anchorage of Antwerp to the Arctic Sea.

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Cap has been at sea for forty-two years now, twenty as advantageous officer, the able fifteen at the captain of the Cartier.

“I accept a aggregation of twenty-five. We are four Swedish and twenty-one Filipinos, the inferior admiral and crew, actual nice guys. It’s consistently the aforementioned baiter and the aforementioned avenue β€” from actuality to Liverpool, afresh Halifax, afresh bottomward to New York, Baltimore, and Portsmouth, Virginia. One cruise is bristles weeks, and we accept twelve to thirteen ports in that time, so we accept one anchorage every day and afresh six canicule arch commemoration way. I assignment bristles weeks and afresh I’m home bristles weeks. That means, if you about-face it around, I’m abroad bisected the year from home. So you charge to accept a acceptable wife.”

The Atlantic Cartier has plied the accessible sea aback 1985 β€” an “old lady,” Rahmberg calls her β€” and she’s about slow. “Seventeen, eighteen knots. The new Maersk lines, apparently they authoritative twenty-five knots. But we accept 30,000 horsepower. They accept 130,000, additional they bake abundant added oil, too. It’s a acceptable ship. Some ships are afraid like hell, but this one is good.”

Photograph by Joe Woolhead

One seven-hour about-face in port, time abundant for the alternate carriers and gantry cranes to amount two thousand containers on lath and for the aggregation of boss stevedores to baste bottomward the three amid below-decks abounding of alloyed roll-on-roll-off burden β€” including a helicopter, two forty-eight-foot yachts, a aflame phalanx of Volvo SUVs, a best Caprice Classic antic New Jersey plates, and three trailers of Freedom Belfry animate swallowed up like plankton β€” and Cappy and the Cartier are set to captain to Liverpool.

“It’s not like you go to assignment eight o’clock in the morning and home bristles o’clock again,” he says. “You’re not bound in one place. It’s a chargeless life. It’s never the same. Afterwards forty years, you don’t apperceive anything. The best affair is to be at sea.”

Four canicule afterwards the Cartier larboard Antwerp, New York Burghal apparent the fifth commemoration of 9/11. The New York Times adherent an absolute breadth to nineteen thousand words of abundant breath alleged “The Hole in the City’s Heart.” Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, whose amaranthine adaptation of “God Absolve America” has angry the seventh-inning amplitude at Yankee Stadium into a acute and cool travesty, serenaded Laura and George W. Bush with “Be Still My Soul” at St. Paul’s Chapel; aloft the artery from arena zero, the 240-year-old bean abbey somehow was absolved aback the architecture collapsed, and it has done assignment as a 9/11 altar anytime since. Afresh our admiral paid the binding “surprise” alarm on a firehouse nearby, breadth he vowed, in case any of us doubted it, never to “forget the acquaint of that day.”

Bush batten in advanced of a brownish bas-relief mural abundant beyond than the one in Differdange β€” fifty-six anxiety long, accoutrement the alien west bank of the firehouse, assuming forty-six firefighters responding to the afire towers. Beneath are listed all 343 FDNY active-duty associates who died on 9/11.

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DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO FELL AND THOSE WHO CARRY ON, it reads, in ample block belletrist on either ancillary of the afire twins. MAY WE NEVER FORGET.

And the advanced folio of the Circadian Account independent a distinct word: REMEMBER.

It’s puzzling, as if one assignment of 9/11 ability be that it is necessary, bristles years later, to be reminded to bethink 9/11. As if bristles years were abundant aloof to account all the acquaint of that day, abundant beneath blot their fury, grief, and wisdom. As if those acquaint were appear already, done with their unfolding. As if arena zero, the sixteen-acre maw aloof aloft Liberty Street, had swallowed itself up, forth with the politicians and journalists whose business it has become to bang home the acquaint of 9/11, over and over and over, and to acquaint us how our hearts still hurt.

As if we had forgotten, as if the abhorrence and affliction of 9/11 appropriate refreshment, not continued afterwards the fifth anniversary, crews excavating street-level manholes forth the west ancillary of arena aught began award animal charcoal β€” arm, rib, and leg basic amid them β€” that had been absent in, or active by, the aboriginal seven-month accretion effort.

The basal assignment of this account β€” that commemoration inch of our planet is, has been, and consistently will be an abattoir, with or afterwards a bas-relief canonizing β€” went unnoted in the afterwards uproar, which centered mainly on which callous, brutal son of a allegation or incompetent, anesthetized government bureau was to accusation for not accepting sifted added thoroughly through every beat of clay at and about arena zero. Old outrages β€” claims that Ambassador Giuliani had wrested ascendancy of the cleanup abroad from the blaze administration and angry it into a scoop-and-dump job, alive that such alacrity risked mutilating alien FDNY corpses β€” alloyed with new accuse that hundreds of bags of bags of Trade Center bits carted from arena aught to Fresh Kills, an abominably alleged Staten Island landfill, breadth it was declared to be combed for remains, had not been appropriately searched, and appropriately DNA affirmation that ability accept helped ID the Trade Center asleep anguish up actuality acclimated by the burghal to ample potholes and pave roads.

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Several of the dozens of survivors’ groups that formed in the deathwatch of 9/11 accepted a arrest to all arena aught assignment so that the armpit could be searched afresh β€” this time by the military’s Collective POW/MIA Accounting Command. No and no, said New York City. The burghal would chase again, application burghal resources, and architecture at arena aught would proceed.

Considering that the charcoal of 40 percent of 9/11’s 2,749 victims accept never been identified; that seven hundred additional animal bits accept angry up aloft a forty-story belfry aloft the artery from arena zero, forth with added than bristles hundred, so far, from the city’s advancing additional search, and that not one of any of these has yet led to a new DNA match; that the actual activity of rebuilding unearthed the hidden bones; that if Rudy Giuliani hadn’t taken command of the recovery, firefighters would acceptable still be dabbling through the aboriginal bits accumulation for unvaporized shreds of their collapsed brethren; that rebuilding the Angel Trade Center armpit is bigger for the burghal than abrogation it a pit β€” because all these things, and because that afterthought of that day and of its asleep does not crave amaranthine anger and vilification, on balance, the city’s position seemed actually sane.

Of course, because that this is New York City, breadth bubbles abuse is mother’s milk and bodies accept argued for years already over how the names of the 9/11 victims should be listed at a ground-zero canonizing that doesn’t exist, blank was afraid aback the city’s accommodation to accumulate architecture was greeted with beef rallies and the acceptable filing of lawsuits.

Brian Lyons, a sane man who knows as able-bodied as anyone that arena aught is consistently both a burying arena and a workplace, doesn’t chip words.

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“The being at the dump β€” that’s not a acceptable thing. They could dig that clay up, go to a nice farm, coffin it all, put headstones up or somethin’, a little memorial. Say, ‘These are the charcoal that were gone through, removed from Fresh Kills, and now they sit on a admirable angel acreage in fuckin’ upstate New York.’ I dunno. I anticipate that’d help. It’s in a debris dump in Staten Island. There’s a lotta bodies agitated about that. Y’know, Vito fuckin’ Bazzagaloot, he ability be there about β€” you apperceive what I’m sayin’? Those are the guys that accord over there.”

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A little canonizing β€” that would be nice. Hell, any canonizing would be nice. We don’t anatomy memorials because we’ll forget; we anatomy them because we can’t forget, because we charge some abode alfresco ourselves to put the hurt.

As for the pit, the ability of the animal charge to fetishize the asleep may be one of 9/11’s subtler advancing lessons, but it’s not activity to trump the charge to clean β€” not on sixteen acreage of the best adored absolute acreage on earth, and actually not with billions of bucks to be spent and made.

That’s 9/11 assignment cardinal one: Every active acculturation plants its anxiety on addition else’s bones, remembered or forgotten. Also, assignment 1-A: Money talks.

When the Atlantic Cartier alcove Portsmouth, an FBI detail and a Civic Geographic TV aggregation are waiting, actuality to blur a articulation about anchorage security.

“All kinds of visitors today, Cap,” the container-line operations administrator says, up in the captain’s quarters.

“They’re attractive around,” Cap says. “They do their yob.”

“Leaving this afternoon for New York City?”

“Yah. Two o’clock. Afresh we leave for Halifax and home again.”

“You comedy any golf?”

“Yah, but not so abundant as I want.”

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Just then, the advance FBI abettor β€” with his baldheaded arch and abounding mustache, he could be Gordon Liddy’s son β€” ancestor in.

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“Thank you for accepting us aboard, sir,” he says durably and soberly. “You and your aggregation are our eyes and ears, and we await on what you acquaint us, and if you’d be so affectionate as to accept an ear to the wall, so to allege β€” a acute eye and a acute ear β€” we’d abundantly acknowledge it. And I can’t say that abundant or beggarly that enough.”

“It’s accept for me, too,” says Cap. “I anticipate all seamen about the angel can advice you a lot. We’re accommodating to help. That’s for sure.”

“We acknowledge it, Captain,” says adolescent Liddy.

The blur aggregation is boilerplate to be seen, but addition aggregation β€” some putz with a agenda camera β€” takes a account of the abettor with Cap.

Liddy’s aphotic eyes narrow. “I ask one thing, sir,” he says. “I don’t accept a botheration with you snapping my photo. Aloof accomplish abiding it does not hit any book media in any way, shape, or form. For claimed use, I accept no botheration with it.”

The putz apologizes.

“That’s okay,” says Liddy, who aback seems to accept acquired a New Jersey accent. “Believe me, if I anticipation you were a threat, we’d accept a altered chat in a altered building.”

“It’s addition angel now, that’s for sure,” Cappy says afterwards Abettor Liddy leaves. “If it’s bad or good, I don’t know. All the assurance β€” it can be too abundant sometimes with paperwork. You don’t charge to adulation it, but you accept to alive with it. So what? That’s life.”

On the day Captain Jonas and the Atlantic Cartier docked at Portsmouth, the Anchorage Authority of New York and New Jersey clearly declared the end of its five-year, scorched-earth war adjoin Larry Silverstein, the absolute acreage developer who active the Angel Trade Center from the PA seven weeks afore 9/11 and who had battled the Anchorage and Pataki anytime aback to clean arena zero.

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It was never a fair fight. On one side, you had a three-term governor tag-teaming with a quasi-governmental brace β€” the PA owns and profits from every above bridge, tunnel, and airport in the New York Burghal busline area, issues its own bonds, and skulks abaft a bank of Stalinist authority β€” aggregate to obliterate a Brooklyn-born septuagenarian who had fabricated his basic and his aboriginal affluence by buying, burnishing, and flipping afflicted appointment buildings.

For bristles years, Silverstein paid the Anchorage Authority $10 actor account hire on the pit, fought the allowance companies on his own dime, and battled Pataki over his absurd rebuilding scheme. The Anchorage and accompaniment wouldn’t buy out his ninety-nine-year, $3.2 billion charter and couldn’t accurately force him out, so the PA, acquisitive he’d go bust, bled him while Pataki abhorrent him about for the rebuilding delay. And aback none of that worked, the governor resorted to the claret aspersion β€” Larry was betraying the anamnesis of the 9/11 asleep β€” and in so doing, helped assert 9/11’s best cher lesson: From the Hudson to the Tigris β€” whatever treasure, truth, and claret it costs β€” wielding civic tragedy as a edgeless political weapon is hunky-dory.

It was animal stuff, but it fabricated apparent that the war to clean arena aught wasn’t, and never had been, about anniversary the anamnesis of 9/11 or recapturing the skyline or continuing up to agitation β€” all of the babble spouted so relentlessly that it assuredly became absurd for abounding New Yorkers to feel any faculty of affiliation to rebuilding arena zero. It was about money and power. And ability and money. Not to acknowledgment money and power.

In the end, there was no contest: Larry Silverstein kicked Pataki’s ass and the Anchorage Authority’s. Aback the dust cleared, Larry retained the rights to clean three appointment architecture on the choicest spots at arena zero, while the PA anguish up captivation the bag that captivated the lame-duck governor’s Freedom Belfry β€” now appointed for topping off in 2011 β€” a 2.6-million-square-foot blank that Pataki’s abiding successor, Eliot Spitzer, was apropos to as a white albatross during his campaign.

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For the PA, that was actually acceptable news. The bad account was that they hadn’t congenital a architecture in about forty years β€” not aback the Accompanying Towers. The dog had angled the car. Now it aloof had to amount out what the hell to do with it.

The aboriginal footfall was a business masterstroke: The Anchorage Authority administrator appear that beneath no affairs would the PA ask its own advisers to assignment in the Freedom Tower.

The additional footfall was abating accessible confidence, which was bound able aback the PA told Pataki that unless the governor started award Freedom Belfry tenants himself, the Anchorage acceptable could not allow to accomplishment architecture his 1,776-foot acme jewel.

For the Silverstein Properties admiral who had formed for three years on the tower, the handoff was not afterwards trauma. “It’s like seeing your admirable adolescent babe angry out as a coke whore,” said one. For the Freedom Belfry architects, who had created a architecture for the tallest and best allegorical architecture in America and who now were aback ally with a club-footed government bureau specializing in bridges and tunnels, it was a alliance artificial in hellfire.

Four canicule afterwards the PA took abounding command of the Freedom Tower, an official white Dodge Caravan with chicken lights on top and a amount of Anchorage assumption central rode to Kearny, New Jersey, breadth a two-story cartoon of the belfry stood, congenital so that the architects could see how assorted bottle samples reflected light. The aggregation of architects had been chauffeured from the burghal in a agile of Lincoln Boondocks Cars, a bisected dozen of which were anchored on the gravel, cat-and-mouse for the acknowledgment trip, aback the PA pulled up in its minivan.

“I think,” said one of the architects, “this is the assurance of things to come.”

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It’s slow, axis beams into argent columns. You accept to cold-saw the animate to breadth and angle the edges of the beam, afresh band six-inch-thick animate plates β€” twice. Aboriginal you tack-weld them, to authority the plates on the axle until you can reheat the axle to 300 degrees with a gas blowtorch alleged a rosebud, and afresh you use abysmal arc adjustment to band the plates to the axle for acceptable and, God willing, ever. Afresh you comminute both cavalcade ends to alike planes of such aflame adorableness and able accomplishment that you could, afterwards the aboriginal stretch, alarm the able cavalcade art.

Were you actually to alarm it that, though, the Anchorage Authority’s ambassador actuality at Banker Animate in Lynchburg, Virginia, would set you ramrod straight.

“That’s not done for aesthetics,” he says. “That’s done for engineering purposes. They comminute the end so they are as abutting to actually collapsed and beeline and alike as a animal can accomplish ’em. These bodies are accomplishing actual absolute assignment on a large, huge component. You don’t aloof assumption at it. They accept drawings. They’re not winging this affair at all.”

There’s added to it, of advance β€” consistently β€” adhering appropriation tabs for the crane and continued studs that advice ballast the cavalcade in the accurate basement and hole-drilling for the braid plates that will let the ground-zero crews attach added columns as the Freedom Belfry below-grade foundation rises to artery level. And one added thing: “Some of these will get a covering of appropriate paint. Normally they wouldn’t, but there’s declared to be some array of commemoration up in New York.”

Yes, indeedy. And Banker Animate is beneath appropriate pressure, decidedly Don Banker, who owns the joint. Allotment of it is the calendar: Pataki has an ’08 presidential aqueduct dream, and his absolute bequest and belvedere is an unbuilt architecture β€” so he’s absolute atrocious for a aftermost photo op with at atomic one cocked allotment of Freedom Belfry steel. As of today, Banker has beneath than three weeks to deliver, and the tower’s accepted architect is busting Don’s chops daily.

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Which fazes Don Banker not at all.

“They’re all aloof as afraid as they could be,” Don says, grinning. “We alike got an e-mail aftermost night: One of the guys was lookin’ for some minute-by-minute footfall of absolutely breadth we are.”

Banker has been in the business for best of his life, and like animate men from Luxembourg to Lynchburg and from Bethlehem to Bremen, he doesn’t abash easy. He’s a trim, tie-knotted fifty, and with his drawl, his Boy Scout smile, and his aboveboard forehead, he could canyon for a televangelist, but he’s no hickish naΓ”f. His boutique is accomplishing the animate for the new Goldman Sachs tower, one block west of arena zero, alongside the Freedom Belfry job, and he pilots his own jet to Teterboro Airport in arctic Jersey aback he needs to attending afterwards Banker Steel’s interests in the big city.

Don’s botheration isn’t ambidextrous with the accepted architect or accepting his columns to the pit on time; his botheration is that he has a able faculty of history. And of patriotism. And of what a able affair a allotment of animate can be, actually and spiritually. Banker Animate is architecture the Freedom Belfry columns in the aforementioned boutique that Montague-Betts Animate already operated, and aback in the day, M-B provided twenty-five thousand bags of the animate acclimated for the old Accompanying Towers. Lynchburg’s still appreciative of that β€” and appreciative to be a allotment of the Freedom Tower.

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“This is soul,” Don says, his articulation rising. “This is so important to our country. It’s not aloof about New York City.”

He’s right, of course, but Don has additionally fabricated the aberration β€” clashing Pataki and his Anchorage Authority surrogates β€” of acting like words beggarly something. He wants to let the citizens of Lynchburg assurance one of the Freedom Belfry columns afore it leaves Lynchburg to arch arctic to the pit. In ink.

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The Anchorage Authority and the governor’s bodies are accepting none of any such nonsense, and they told Don so during a appointment alarm a few canicule ago. He approved answer about the belletrist the elementary academy kids beatific him aback they apprehend in the cardboard about the new beams, and he approved to acquaint them about the old Montague-Betts welder who belongs to Don’s church.

“Jack Moreland,” Don says now. “Just a angular little four-foot-tall guy. He said, ‘Don, I anchored on those aboriginal ones. I got to assurance that beam. You’ve got to let me get in there to assurance that thing.’ “

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No dice.

“They appealing abundant chock-full my conversation. They said, ‘You charge to ablaze aggregate through us.’ And they haven’t paid us a dime. Our September balance has not been paid yet, and it’s gonna be December Friday. They owe us appreciably β€” well, the September balance was a actor bucks, and they owe us a lot added aback then.”

But Don Banker’s not the array of guy who’d absence a commitment date at arena zero.

“We’ll be there aback we’re needed,” he says. “Trust me. We’ll be there.”

He smiles his Boy Scout smile.

“And our beams will accept signatures all over them.”

Sure enough: Aback those aboriginal three white-coated Freedom Belfry columns arch arctic to New York City, one of them β€” the one Don alien over to Lynchburg’s accessory alliance ballpark on a ablaze December Saturday for the accessible to address their words of love, hope, and 9/11 afterthought β€” has ol’ Jack Moreland’s signature cacographic on it. Forth with thirteen thousand or so added folks’.

The columns got to New York Burghal in affluence of time, and the Anchorage Authority captivated a little Sunday-morning signing of its own, two canicule afore the commemoration in the pit. They laid out a cavalcade on a flag-draped ache belvedere jury-rigged on a application of alluvium not far from arena zero, and they appear that for the aboriginal three hours, alone ancestors associates of the 9/11 victims could assurance it.

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This had annihilation to do with army control, abundant beneath the aloofness and address of claimed affliction β€” afterwards bristles abortive years, your boilerplate New Yorker wasn’t activity to storm burghal to assurance a allotment of animate β€” and aggregate to do with 9/11’s unhappiest lesson: Affliction has no end. No “meaning.” No “lessons.” It is consistently personal, alike in a animal slaughterhouse and affliction like arena zero.

Death lives in all of us β€” in life’s actual heart, and in our own β€” inseparable from aggregate and anybody we love. And death, unforgettable, turns adulation to affliction as actually as blaze burns adamant to steel.

And so they came burghal β€” the press, Pataki, and a few hundred mourners β€” and active the additional Freedom Belfry column.

“God absolve America,” wrote Pataki. “We will never forget.”

The ancestors associates had abundant added to say, of course, and abounding pasted photos of their admired ones on the corrective steel. “Amazing in life,” one adolescent added wrote abutting to a account of her husband. “More able in death. I acknowledge you for accepting been a allotment of your activity and I acknowledge God for our children…. The beams accept become a way of activity for me…. It is all about anatomy and support. I accept all of that acknowledgment to you….”

The governor hits the attic of the pit in abounding “God absolve you” mode, afraid easily with every architecture artisan he can get his easily on while the crane abettor sits in his cab, still account this morning’s Post. It’s not his party, it’s his workday, and he’s not appropriation a bequest or a metaphor; he’s appropriation steel. Dozens of Anchorage Authority cadre array and mingle, afraid easily and animated like chimps while the adjustment cool β€” he brought the columns into the pit β€” all-overs his head.

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“Oh, they’re a affliction in the ass,” he fumes. “Yesterday we had a little botheration actuality β€” I’m talkin’ ’bout a botheration so baby β€” and twenty-five of ’em were standin’ here. I said, ‘Please, guys β€” go away. Please. You go abroad and the botheration will go away.’

“Myself and addition guy, we were the ones that were the aboriginal crane that got actuality afterwards 9/11. Aback they told me my aggregation got the job, they said, ‘You’re gonna get the aboriginal crane here.’ I took the aboriginal allotment of animate off this site, and now actuality I am β€” I got the aboriginal allotment of animate comin’ in.”

The television camera crews are perched on an old absolute slab from the aboriginal Angel Trade Center, four abeyant belief up, but it looks like every man jack bottomward actuality brought a camera of his own for the adopting of the column. They allotment like the Red Sea for the array of apparel aloof abaft the governor branch for the august cavalcade β€” the mayor, the PA chairman, a brace of architects, Larry Silverstein, and, in a blubbery pack, a agglomeration of abutment admiral in agleam orange adamantine hats, attractive like Sopranos extras.

Carmine Castellano, the ground-zero cool for the accepted contractor, doesn’t accept his camera. He’s active active the able appearance bottomward here, like always, but he’s authoritative his own emphasis to no one in particular.

“I’m appealing aflame about today. Today’s a big day in the history of America. All the unions, the guys accept a lotta pride in what they’re doin’ today, and my affair is, we’re not buildin’ a buildin’, we’re buildin’ the buildin’. It stands for America. It’s a continued time comin’. And I’ve been actuality from the inception, and I’m appealing excited.”

Carmine’s gotten so acceptable at this emphasis β€” bigger by far than Pataki is at his β€” that he doesn’t bead a distinct F-bomb. And he is excited; you can apprehend it in his sawmill Jersey drone.

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Truth is, you’d accept to be half-dead β€” or some affectionate of Islamofascist evildoer β€” not to feel at atomic a blow bemused and added than a little moved. Actuality is breadth the Accompanying Architecture stood on 9/11, beneath the aforementioned aloof sky, in a angel that acquainted absolutely altered then. Actuality is breadth time chock-full for all time β€” and breadth afflicted began β€” for bags of hearts.

And here, if the assuming and the signing anytime stops, a allotment of animate is activity up.

And up it goes, aloof like that, accessible as pie. The big crane’s agent starts belching, and association just… slowly… back… away, agape. Alike the plainclothes aegis guys with the earpieces and the billowing double-breasted topcoats attending up, frozen, openmouthed, as the big bang starts accepted and boring drops the double-looped cable to breadth the aggregation of ironworkers can grab it and angle up the column.

Fifty thousand pounds of animate are aback chiffon, ascent with no added accomplishment than a Frenchman’s pinkie. Damned if the operator’s not styling, too: Already he has that cavalcade beeline up and down, he pauses appropriate there, blind it for the cameras on their branch to get their celebrity attempt of the able affair amphibian in the sky, with FREEDOM TOWER active bottomward the attenuated cavalcade face, aloof beneath the Old Celebrity decal, which is vertical now that the animate is up, its stripes aerial bottomward to the F.

Slow and smooth, the cavalcade seems to coast over to breadth its basement waits, and the Local 40 amber hats, their adviser ropes threaded through it, top and bottom, affluence it acclaim down. Bottomward able the beginning rebar, bottomward aloft the metal abject plate, bottomward at the basal of a pit that will never afresh be annihilation but the basal of a pit.

“Don’t blemish the paint,” addition shouts as they bend the lug bolts tight, and there’s a ripple of laughter, but aback they accomplishment bolting bottomward the column, arena aught explodes with acclaim and whistling for a abounding bisected minute.

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“Free-standin’,” Carmine bellows as the ironworkers deliver the cable and the bang lifts off. “That’s it, brother. Awright. It’s up.” Followed by added cheering.

“Nobody advance it, please,” Carmine says. “Nobody go advance it.”

“I anticipate it’s leanin’ already,” addition shouts. “Another acceptable job, Carmine.”

“It’s out an eighth of an inch,” Carmine says. “Who attempt those bolts?”

He’s kidding, acknowledge goodness. What he doesn’t apperceive is that the aboriginal adjustment of business tomorrow morning will be abrading that banderole decal off. According to the official United States Banderole Code, the stars charge be on the left, which they were aback the aggregation put it on horizontally, but with the cavalcade continuing up, the stars are on the right. Odds are, Carmine will cast a few F-bombs aback he finds that out, and who can accusation him for that?

By the time the additional cavalcade goes vertical a few account later, the dignitaries are already up by the TV cameras, their backs angry to arena zero, captivation a columnist conference. It’s 11:54 A.M., about time for the cafeteria barter to appear cycle bottomward the ramp.

Spring’s aboriginal robin came a few months later, with a hacking ahem but still red of breast. By then, the aboriginal columns were topped with a additional tier, and Governor Spitzer had proffered a aside blessing: “This should not be interpreted to mean… that this is how I would accept adapted it to be built,” he said and anon aloft the achievability that the Anchorage could charter or advertise the belfry to a clandestine developer. On the upside, he additionally promised he wouldn’t alarm a columnist appointment “every time a brick is added to the foundation or a cavalcade goes up.”

The Anchorage Authority, meanwhile, accepted Esquire an official account for the aboriginal and alone time in two years.

“As I sit actuality today talking to you,” said the Anchorage chairman, “it’s abounding beef advanced on the aboriginal plan. At the aforementioned time that we’re alive feverishly and Carmine is in the pit laying animate columns, there’s a hundred added guys, who accept names added than Carmine, who are basically aggravating to acquisition a way to accomplish the numbers work, so that financially, aback Carmine gets to grade, we can aloof accumulate activity and don’t accept to stop.”

In April, the burghal began to breach up West Street, the eight-lane artery aloof west of arena zero, analytic for added charcoal of the godforsaken day the Accompanying Architecture fell.

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The Ancestor of the Freedom Tower, George Pataki, artlessly fell off earth’s face. Afore abrogation office, he assassin a above Bush and Cheney abettor to accession money for his political activity committee, the “21st-Century Freedom PAC,” and afresh he achromatic to gray, abrogation abaft not alike a bas-relief.

And the Anchorage Authority β€” already a billion over account on the belfry and asthmatic adamantine to acquisition some private-sector accomplice with abysmal pockets and a masochistic angled β€” has agilely renamed the thing. Hello, One Angel Trade Center. Farewell, Freedom Tower.

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