A civic group opposed to the building of the World Trade Center publishes a nearly full-page advertisement in the New York Times warning that the new buildings will be so tall that a commercial airliner might crash into them.
The group called the Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center, was mainly composed of New York real estate developers who were worried that the huge construction project will glut the market. Its leader is Lawrence A. Wien, a real estate mogul who is an owner of the Empire State Building in New York.
In July 1945, a B-25 Army bomber struck the Empire State Building, killing 14 people. [New York Times, 2/26/1981] The committee’s advertisement shows an artist’s rendition of a large jet plane about to strike one of the proposed towers. [New York Times Magazine, 9/8/2002; New York Times Magazine, 9/8/2002] Lawrence A. Wien
April 30, 1921
The Port of New York Authority is created. Eventually the Port Authority adds tunnels, bridges, railroad complexes, airports and roads to its portfolio.
Oct. 31, 1955
Over lunch, Robert Moses suggests to David Rockefeller that his plans to build a new headquarters for Chase Manhattan Bank on Cedar Street could be "a disaster" unless he can stop the flight of other businesses from Lower Manhattan to Midtown.
David Rockefeller and other New York business leaders recommend developing the East River waterfront below the Brooklyn Bridge, as a way to revitalize downtown. The Port Authority quickly becomes involved in conceptual planning for what was then called a "World Trade and Financial Center."
Jan. 27, 1960
A proposal for a World Trade Center, citing a $250 million cost, is put forth by David Rockefeller's Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, and suggests the Port Authority should study the plan.
March 10, 1961
The Port Authority issues a report to Governors Nelson Rockefeller of New York and Robert Meyner of New Jersey strongly backing the concept of a World Trade Center that would coordinate area activities in business competition and global trade. The report says "only a public agency" could handle the job and envisions a "World Trade Mart rising 72 stories." Estimated cost of the project: $355 million.
March 27, 1962
Guy F. Tozzoli is named director of the World Trade Department of the Port Authority. The reported price tag for the project is now $470 million and the proposed site has been switched to the west side of the island from the east.
Existing businesses in the Trade Center area file a lawsuit to stop the project, which would mean their eviction. The battle eventually goes to the New York Supreme Court. The businesses fail in attempts to stop the first phase of the project immediately but their legal actions continue.
July 13, 1962
Small business owners march along Greenwich Street's "Radio Row" in protest, carrying a coffin to symbolize the death of "Mr. Small Businessman" if the Port Authority is allowed to evict them from their stores and raze the site.
Architects for the project are announced: Minoru Yamasaki, who started his career working for the firm that designed the Empire State Building, and subsequently started his own office outside Detroit will be the lead architect. The New York firm of Emery Roth & Sons, who worked on the Pan Am Building, will be associated architects.
April 5, 1963
Another lawsuit brought by Radio Row merchants is decided in favor of the Port Authority when the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany rules that the state law authorizing the Trade Center project is not unconstitutional, reversing a lower court ruling in Manhattan.
Aug. 26, 1963
The small businessmen ask the United States Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the disputed 1962 law that set the Trade Center project in motion arguing that it "allows the taking of private property for non-public uses" by a state agency.
Nov. 12, 1963
The United States Supreme Court declines to hear the appeal saying that the case does not present "a substantial Federal question."
Dec. 16, 1963
The United States Supreme Court denies a petition from the Radio Row merchants to hear their case. Ten days later, the New York State Supreme Court refuses to set aside a condemnation order against the businesses.
Jan. 13, 1964
Governor Nelson Rockefeller says that New York State will lease a large amount of office space in the Trade Center.
Jan. 18, 1964
Port Authority Executive Director Austin J. Tobin makes public Yamasaki's new design for the Trade Center, involving two 110-story towers.
Powerful Midtown landlords, lead by Lawrence Wien, head of the syndicate that owns the Empire State Building, and including Seymour Durst and Harry Helmsley, challenge the Port Authority's plans. The Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center will attempt to force the agency to scale down.
Feb. 2, 1964
In The Times, Huxtable calls the project "something of a gamble, since its real impact can never be visualized from a model."
Feb. 15, 1964
A Times article says a group has raised the question of the towers' safety in the case of an explosion or airplane crash. Richard Roth releases a statement saying that the project's structural engineering firm has done a study proving that damage from an airplane traveling 600 miles per hour would be only local and that people elsewhere in the towers would be safe.
April 27, 1964
A spokesman for the Radio Row merchants, jumping the gun, calls the increasingly controversial Trade Center plan "deader than a dead duck."
July 4, 1965
A Times story says the Port Authority's financial clout and technological advances will revive a moribund high-rise construction industry.
July 7, 1965
The first physical blow is struck for tests on the site of the projected Trade Center at Cortland and West Streets — on the first piece of land purchased by the Port Authority for the project.
Feb. 8, 1966
New Mayor John Lindsay asks the Port Authority to delay construction until he can arrange a better deal for the City than that worked out by his predecessor, Robert Wagner. The estimated cost of the Trade Center project has risen to $575 million. The cost eventually rises to over $1 billion.
Feb. 28, 1966
The Nation calls the proposed World Trade Center "Manhattan's Tower of Babel" and charges that the Port Authority is misusing its power to seize land for projects "of public benefit" by planning what is really a vast, for-profit real estate venture.
May 29, 1966
In "Whose Afraid of the Big Bad Buildings?" in The Times, Huxtable calls the Trade Center a "huge and highly controversial project," and notes, "The Trade Center towers could be the start of a new skyscraper age or the biggest tombstones in the world."
Aug. 5, 1966
Construction of the towers begins, as a permit for the closing of West Street is issued by the city the previous afternoon. A temporary ramp over West Street is planned to allow traffic to pass during the construction.
May 2, 1968
The Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center runs a nearly full page ad in The Times saying the towers will be so large as to pose a threat to air traffic, illustrated with a drawing of a jet about to strike the north face of the north tower.
Aug. 6, 1968
The first steel beams for the towers is put in place by Karl Koch Erecting Company, at what will become the southwest corner of the north tower.
July 24, 1969
Delivery of steel to the site is cut off by a teamster's strike involving truck drivers.
March 16, 1970
At about 1:30 p.m., an accidental explosion at the Trade Center site, concurrently with a bomb threat, heightens fears. Six workmen are injured. The Wall Street Journal reports that the fire and explosion temporarily halts work, saying that a propane tank on the "fifth subcellar" blew up. The Times reports that four separate explosions sent flames 100 feet into the air half an hour after the bomb threat, which is called "coincidental."
May 30, 1970
A 50-foot office trailer belonging to the trade center contractors parked near the construction site is severely damaged by a bomb. The Times speculates that it may be linked to "animosity between opponents of the war in Indochina and construction workers" which has "run high since May 8, when scores of hard-hatted men stormed City Hall and beat dozens of anti-war demonstrators."
Oct. 19, 1970
The Trade Center becomes the world's tallest building, surpassing the Empire State Building by four feet.
Dec. 23, 1970
The north tower is topped out.
July 19, 1971
The south tower is topped off, above cloud level.
April 8, 1972
A two-alarm fire fills the south tower with billowing smoke. Hydrants nearby do not work.
April 4, 1973
The World Trade Center is dedicated. Nine workmen were killed during the construction.
Aug. 7, 1974
High-wire-walker Philippe Petit stages a dawn raid in which he first slings a cable between the two towers and then spends 45 minutes walking along it, before being arrested.
Feb. 13, 1975
A fire guts the 11th floor and spreads as to six other floors because adequate fireproofing is not in place. The fire leads to intense scrutiny of the towers and eventually to a decision to install sprinklers.
May 19, 1975
Seven suspicious fires break out in the Trade Center. Two days later, a maintenance employee is charged with setting these fires and the one in Feb..
July 30, 1975
An article in the Wall Street Journal says that the Trade Center construction costs have escalated to about $900 million.
Nov. 4, 1976
The millionth visitor to the Trade Center observation deck is given a free lifetime pass.
May 26, 1977
George Willig, an inventor and toy maker, climbs the south tower with special clamps he made himself as crowds watch from below. Willig's mother was a survivor of the 1945 incident in which an Army bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, where she was working at the time.
Aug. 3, 1977
The entire Trade Center is evacuated because of bomb threats and bombings in two other buildings by radical Puerto Rican separatists of the F.A.L.N.
April 19, 1980
An electrical fire on the 106th floor forces the evacuation of 200 people lunching at the Windows on the World restaurant in the north tower.
Feb. 20, 1981
An Aerolineas Argentinas 707, heading for a possible collision with the north tower, makes an emergency turn less than 90 seconds from impact.
March 12, 1981
The Port Authority announces a $45 million plan to install sprinklers throughout the Trade Center.
Sept. 10, 1981
A parachutist lands on top of the south tower and is arrested.
Feb. 26, 1993
A truck bomb explodes at the World Trade Center. A Times reporter writes that "[a]lmost from the day in 1970 when a propane gas explosion shook the steel skeleton of the skyscraper, through dozens of fires, large and small, fire safety at the World Trade Center has been in dispute."