- September 11, 2019 is the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The destruction of the Twin Towers left a glaring hole in the New York City skyline.
- Following the attacks, movies and television shows replaced images of or cut scenes involving the buildings.
- In the intervening 18 years, New York has rebuilt the area around ground zero and delivered a yearly tribute in memory of the nearly 3,000 lives lost as a result of those attacks.
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The 9/11 terrorist attacks transformed New York City and its skyline.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, smoke filled the air, casting a grey film over the city’s Financial District. As the smog began to lift, New Yorkers were confronted with the glaring disappearance of the Twin Towers, a structural duo that had become synonymous with the city itself. Movies and television shows scrambled to replace or eliminate scenes of the buildings, and video games and animated features changed their storylines to reflect their absence.
By 2002, construction began on 7 World Trade Center – one of seven new buildings at the original World Trade Center site. In the coming years, the skyline made way for cranes and steel columns as builders laid the foundation for the complex. By the end of 2014, three buildings in the site’s master plan were standing. The fourth building, 3 World Trade Center, opened on June 11, 2018.
The most iconic of these renovated structures, One World Trade Center, is now the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. At 1,776 feet high, the tower is a glaring reminder of the city’s reconstruction and rebirth.
The following images trace the evolution of New York’s skyline before the attacks, on the day of 9/11, and on every anniversary thereafter. In addition to huge structural changes, the images depict citywide tributes to the nearly 3,000 lives lost.
Before the attacks
Foto: At around 1,360 feet each, the Twin Towers were a prodigious feature of the Manhattan skyline.sourceMark Lennihan/AP
September 11, 2001
Foto: Smoke billows from the Twin Towers after they were struck by two hijacked planes.sourceRobert Giroux/Getty Images
September 11, 2002
Foto: Mourners gather at Ground Zero for the World Trade Center memorial service. For two and a half hours, officials recited the names of the victims against a backdrop of orchestra music.sourceJose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Getty Images
September 11, 2003
Foto: The Tribute in Light glows behind the Statue of Liberty on September 11, 2003.sourceChris Hondros/Getty Images
New York City commemorates the attacks each year by casting 88 searchlights into the sky, creating two columns of light to represent the Twin Towers. The installation, known as Tribute in Light, started on the first anniversary of 9/11 and has since become an annual memorial.
September 11, 2004
Foto: The 2004 light tribute peers through the hazy New York skyline.sourceEzra Shaw/Getty Images
September 11, 2005
Foto: With construction in full swing, New Yorkers gather in front of a reflecting pool at the World Trade Center site.sourceHenny Ray Abrams/AP
September 11, 2006
Foto: A New Yorker gazes at the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn waterfront on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.sourcePeter Morgan/AP
September 11, 2007
Foto: Friends and family of 9/11 victims convene for the annual wreath-laying service, in which members of the public deliver remarks.sourceMike Segar-Pool/Getty Images
September 11, 2008
Foto: A subway charges into Manhattan on an overcast day, marking seven years since 9/11.sourceSpencer Platt/Getty Images
September 11, 2009
Foto: Amid showering skies, families, firefighters, and police officers lay flowers at Ground Zero during the annual 9/11 memorial ceremony.sourceRick Gershon/Getty Images
September 11, 2010
Foto: Firefighters gather in front of a reflecting pool at Ground Zero, with construction efforts towering above them.sourceChris Hondros/Getty Images
September 11, 2011
Foto: A bouquet of flowers atop a fence overlooking lower Manhattan on the morning of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11.sourceSpencer Platt/Getty Images
Since 2011, politicians have not been allowed to read names or deliver remarks at the 9/11 commemoration service in order to preserve the apolitical nature of the ceremony.
September 11, 2012
Foto: A New Yorker runs along the Brooklyn waterfront against a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.sourceSpencer Platt/Getty Images
September 11, 2013
Foto: Residents of Hoboken, New Jersey, attend an interfaith memorial as the Tribute in Light illuminates the Manhattan skyline. The Freedom Tower, visible in the background, had not yet been officially unveiled.sourceMichael Bocchieri/Getty Images
September 11, 2014
Foto: sourceEric Thayer/Getty Images
As New Yorkers gathered for another year of memorial services, former President Obama delivered a speech at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. “Beginning tomorrow, there will be teenagers – young adults – who were born after 9/11,” Obama said. “While these young Americans did not know the horrors of that day, their lives have been shaped by all the days since.”
September 11, 2015
Foto: The Tribute in Light casts a familiar glow over the New York skyline on the evening of September 11, 2015.sourceKena Betancur/Getty Images
September 11, 2016
Foto: The Tribute in Light installation shines on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, which saw clear skies.sourceMichael Heiman/Getty Images
September 11, 2017
Foto: sourceDrew Angerer/Getty Images
President Donald Trump delivered remarks at the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial service last year. “We’re gathered here today to remember a morning that started very much like this one,” he said. “On that day, not only did the world change, but we all changed. Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we face. But in that hour of darkness, we also came together with renewed purpose. Our differences never looked so small, our common bonds never felt so strong.”
September 11, 2018
Foto: A couple hugs as The Tribute in Light is seen in the sky above Lower Manhattan area of New York from across the Hudson River on the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Jersey City, N.J.sourceAndres Kudacki / Associated Press
September 11, 2019
Foto: A U.S. Flag hanging from a steal girder, damaged in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, blows in the breeze at a memorial in Jersey City, N.J., Sept. 11, 2019 as the sun rises behind One World Trade Center building and the re-developed area where the Twin Towers of World Trade Center once stood in New York City on the 18th anniversary of the attacks.sourceJ. David Ake / Associated Press