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Freedom Isn’t Free...and One World Trade Isn’t the Freedom Tower?



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The Wall Street Journal carries a delightful piece this morning about the American public’s stubborn insistence on referring to the nation’s new tallest skyscraper as the Freedom Tower. The nearly completed flagship of the reborn World Trade Center campus received the name in a 2003 speech by then-New York governor George Pataki, but in 2009 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey changed the name to One World Trade Center, to avoid tenants “forever associating the building with the profound loss suffered on Sept. 11,” according to the WSJ. Contemporary reports noted that the name change occurred simultaneously with the signing of the tower’s first commercial tenant, China’s state-controlled Beijing Vantone Real Estate. Developer Douglas Durst, whose eponymous firm is a partner in the building, defended the name change: “It’s an office building and not a memorial and not a monument.” 

Yet the glassy spire remains a symbol and an enormous source of pride for many Americans — not least its lead architect, Daniel Libeskind, who told the WSJ, “I always say ‘Freedom Tower.’” Libeskind also disputed Durst’s claim that the building has no monumental aspect: “The truth is that in the master plan, the notion of a 1,776-foot tower does ultimately refer to freedom.” In any case, New Yorkers are unlikely to pay heed to the name change anytime soon; as the article notes, the Pan Am Building is still widely known as such, more than twenty years years after MetLife renamed the tower. Perhaps unusually for The Corner, the last word on this subject goes to New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who told Fox News, “One of the things is we call things what we want to call them. . . . If they name this One World Trade Center, people will still call it the Freedom Tower.”



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