PHOTOS: Final Piece of Spire Lifted Atop One World Trade Center

Once the piece is bolted in place, One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the United States.

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Heavy machinery is hardly thought of as emotional, but on Thursday, when construction workers hoisted a 408-foot spire up the roof of One World Trade Center, it proved difficult not to gaze skyward in reverence to the risen skyscraper. The spire, draped in an American flag that swayed in the breeze, slowly rose on the crane as construction workers cheered. While the tower won’t be completed until 2014, the spire represents a crucial piece of the construction process.  Once it’s bolted in place in several weeks, the needle — made up of 18 parts and weighing 758 tons — will make the building the tallest in the U.S. at 1,776 feet — a reference to 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was adopted, according to the Associated Press. Hearkening to more recent symbolism, the May 2nd spire-raising coincides with the second anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, founder of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, which claimed responsibility for  the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.

The spire for the top of One World Trade Center is hoisted to the top of the building in New York, May 2, 2013.

The final section of the spire that will top off One World Trade Center is raised to the top of the building in New York


Lucas Jackson / REUTERS


Lucas Jackson / REUTERS

Construction workers watch as the 408-foot spire is hoisted onto a temporary platform on the top of One World Trade Center on May 2, 2013 in New York City.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images