City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center

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9780805074284: City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center

The definitive biography of the iconic skyscrapers and the ambitions that shaped them-from their dizzying rise to their unforgettable fall

More than a year after the nation began mourning the lives lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center, it became clear that something else was being mourned: the towers themselves. They were the biggest and brashest icons that New York, and possibly America, has ever produced-magnificent giants that became intimately familiar around the globe. Their builders were possessed of a singular determination to create wonders of capitalism as well as engineering, refusing to admit defeat before natural forces, economics, or politics.

No one knows the history of the towers better than New York Times reporters James Glanz and Eric Lipton. In a vivid, brilliantly researched narrative, the authors re-create David Rockefeller's ambition to rebuild lower Manhattan, the spirited opposition of local storeowners and powerful politicians, the bold structural innovations that later determined who lived and died, master builder Guy Tozzoli's last desperate view of the towers on September 11, and the charged and chaotic recovery that could have unraveled the secrets of the buildings' collapse but instead has left some enduring mysteries.

Like David McCullough's The Great Bridge, City in the Sky is a riveting story of New York City itself, of architectural daring, human frailty, and a lost American icon.

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About the Author:

James Glanz is a science reporter for The New York Times with a doctorate in physics. Eric Lipton is a metropolitan reporter for the Times. Since September 11, 2001, they have investigated the attack on the World Trade Center and the aftermath. They live in New York.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From City in the Sky:

The phone rang at 7 a.m. in the four-story, red-brick townhouse on East 65th Street where David Rockefeller was just finishing up his breakfast before his commute to work. Rockefeller, the youngest grandson of America's first billionaire, took a certain patrician pride in riding the Lexington Avenue subway downtown to his office at Chase National Bank, his newspaper folded lengthwise so that he could read it in the morning crush, just like everyone else. But on this day in February 1955 Rockefeller would make his commute in the back of a gray Cadillac limousine whose license plates read, very simply, WZ. Those were the initials of William Zeckendorf, the eccentric but brilliant real estate mogul and family friend who had phoned to say he had an idea that just couldn't wait. "I'll pick you up," Zeckendorf blurted to Rockefeller.

Rockefeller, who had just been appointed executive vice president for planning and development at the bank, was used to such outbursts from Zeckendorf, a bald, moon-faced man some people liked to call the P. T. Barnum of real estate. Now Zeckendorf was working out a sure-fire deal for building a giant new headquarters for Chase National Bank. His plan was so complicated that he did not want to describe it on the phone. He wanted Rockefeller to himself during the limousine ride downtown. This was going to be one hell of a deal.

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James Glanz; Eric Lipton
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