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Twin Towers: the life and death of New York City's World Trade Center - a lecture at the University of York

Posted on 12 February 2003

Angus Gillespie, author of the best-selling book "Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center" will give a lecture on the life and death of the Twin Towers at the University. The lecture will take place at 7pm on Tuesday 18 February in room P/L001, Physics.

"Today, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stand only in our memory, an image that calls to mind sorrow and loss. But during the years that they straddled the skyline, they were more than just office buildings. They were symbols of America", Gillespie explains.

Completed in 1976, the Twin Towers were, at the time, the tallest man-made structure in New York City. What went on before the ground was even broken is a fascinating story in itself. Gillespie will explain the political manoeuvering that was necessary for the co-sponsor, the State of New Jersey, to agree to situate the project across the river in New York. He will present portraits of the engineers, architects, politicians, and contractors who proudly and ambitiously dreamt, designed, and built the World Trade Center.

He will explain how engineers prepared the site and solved complex problems in order to erect the towers, each with 110 stories. And he discusses the contrast between the architectural community's almost universal disdain and the public's enthusiastic acceptance of the building as a symbol of New York.

"To the crowds of tourists who visited daily, it was a man-made wonder with a breathtaking view," Gillespie says, "some people considered the building a symbol of arrogance; for others, it was a prestigious corporate address. For daredevil, George Willig, it was a challenge to be climbed. For Hollywood, it was the perfect location for a remake of King Kong."

Finally, Gillespie will tell the story of the demise of the building on September 11, 2001, followed by an account of the efforts to remove the rubble and to construct an appropriate memorial within a new complex, the shape of which is yet to be decided.

Notes to editors:

  • Angus Gillespie is Professor of American Studies and Urban Studies at Rutgers State University of New Jersey
  • Angus Gillespie's book Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999) was on the harback nonfiction bestseller lists for, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly in the Autumn of 2001. It has been translated into Japanese and Polish. In his book, through numerous interviews conducted with the people who formerly worked there, Gillespie portrays the lost world of bankers, shippers, freight forwarders, and traders
  • He is currently visiting the Norwegian Study Centre at the University of York as part of a Fulbright Award to teach American Studies in Norway. The Norwegian Study Centre is part of the Department of English and Related Literature in the University of York. The Centre functions as a permanent study centre for students from four Norwegian universities, and from the college sector.

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