World Trade Center Becomes New York’s Tallest Skyscraper, Again

As construction begins on its 100th floor, the new One World Trade Center becomes Manhattan's tallest building -- and it's still growing.

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DON EMMERT / AFP / Getty Images

The lower Manhattan skyline shows One World Trade Center April 27, 2012 in New York.

The World Trade Center will once more tower over the City of New York on Monday, taking its spot as the highest point on Manhattan’s iconic skyline.

This afternoon, winds and weather permitting, the first steel column of One World Trade Center’s 100th floor will be hoisted atop the skyscraper’s current structure, bringing the building to a height of 1,271 feet — 21 feet higher than the Empire State Building.

The new building won’t reach its final height for several more months, but when it does the tower will stand 1,368 feet at rooftop level – identical in height to the original World Trade Center tower it is designed to replace. The antenna, which will bring the total height to 1,776 feet, won’t be finished for about another year.

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Height, however, can often be a contentious issue. The debate often centers on whether a building’s antenna or spire should be ultimately counted – antennae can often be added on well after a building’s completion. According to the Associated Press, if the new World Trade Center’s antenna is to be counted, it would make it “the tallest building in the U.S., and third tallest in the world.”

The Empire State Building was the world’s tallest building from 1932 until 1972, when the original World Trade Center’s North Tower was completed. It became New York City’s tallest skyscraper again after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Currently, the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago stands as the tallest building in the United States; the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which topped out in 2010 at a height of 2,723 feet, retains the coveted title as the tallest and fairest of ‘em all.

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Construction for the new One World Trade Center began in April 2006, though suggestions for the site had been discussed since soon after the September 2001 attacks. The building is expected to be structurally finished toward the end of this year, though occupants aren’t expected to start moving in until early next year. Author Neal Bascomb told The New York Times that he noticed the building growing perceptibly taller each time he drove into the Big Apple: “You know, I was happy to see it,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wonderful.’”

David M. Childs, the architect who led the design team for the new skyscraper, noted the significance of the development for New York City. “In a way, it ties together Manhattan, which lost something because of that emptiness in the sky.”

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Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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