An artistic representation of the towers. Google images
We all remember that day: How we first heard, whom we were with, how we felt as we watched an iconic American cityscape transformed into a burning, toxic wreckage, knowing that thousands were surely dead, many never to be found. We can all too easily recall how our disbelief quickly turned to horror, sadness and then fear – a fear that the world was now a fundamentally different place, and what that would mean for ourselves and our children.
In many ways our fears were borne out. The world is a very different place than it was on the morning of September 11th, 2001, wrought as it has been by a series of wars and the apparent growth in irrational fears of immigrants and associated political extremism. And our lives are certainly more scrutinized, particularly in urban areas where sophisticated cameras and sensing technology can follow our moves and transactions with unnerving accuracy. In additoin, with the costs of the "war on terror" now estimated to exceed $5 trillion, we must reflect on the "opportunity costs" that this figure represents: investments that could have been made into America's infrastructure, renewable energy and other urban amenities that instead went into the interminable and controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, the U.S. Conference of Mayors issued a statement at their June meeting called on President Obama to bring these wars to an early end and redirect dollars to urban needs and to building a new, sustainable economy. (...)From the perspective of 2011, however, it is fascinating to see how the urban fears of 2001 have, by and large, not been realized. Increasingly tall skycrapers have been built – including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which exceeds 160 storeys, while an even taller structure, the 1 kilometre tall Kingdom Tower, is being planned for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In his recent book, The Triumph of the City, author Edward Glaeser trumpeted the powerful role of the skyscraper in contributing to urban sustainability and vitality. Far from dissipating their functions to the suburbs, cities have continued to attract residents: indeed, in 2009 Planetizen cited the “Return to the City” as one of the top planning trends of the previous year, as young professionals are seeking to work and live near the centre to be a part of the “creative economy” and as a means to avoid high travel costs. And of course, the “Ground Zero” site itself continues to be rebuilt, with One World Trade Center – which will be the tallest building in the United States – slated for completion in 2013.
Read this article by Michael Dudley in full: