Lawrence Wien saw the writing on the wall. His magnificent building, the Empire State Building, was no longer going to be the tallest office building in the United States. The World Trade Center, a building consisting of 100 stories would now become the record holder. He also knew the hazards of building such a uniquely tall structure right by the waters. One in which involved the potential of commercial aircraft from JFK airport and Laguardia would have their routes interfered with by two extremely large towers that would have visibility problems for pilots. “The total potential hazard is staggering. Unfortunately, we rarely recognize how serious these problems are until it’s too late to do anything.” How those words would merit importance just 33 years later.
On May 2, 1968 Wien, the owner of the Empire State Building as well as other engineers and commercial landmark owners took out a full page ad in the NY Times and headlined it as the following..
“The Mountains come to Manhattan”
Wien remembers all too vividly, that just 23 years ago a B-25 Army bomber had accidentally crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building b impacting the 79th & 80th floors. However this was something entirely too risky he thought, building a 110 story skyscraper just off the Hudson where in time the air would be teeming with passenger jets filled with people. He also thought about electrical interference to tens of thousands just right in Lower Manhattan. In the article Wien as well as numerous other engineers, that included the President of the Allied Pilots Association, spoke out against the haphazard of the World Trade Towers.
“Safe navigation includes not only planned flight patterns but also provisions for unforeseen and uncontrolled diversions”.
But in 1972, the tallest buildings in the world would end construction. However in just 29 years the world’s most spectacular terrorist attack, since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, took place as hijacked commercial aircraft would slam into each of the World Trade Center towers. An act unimagined by Wien or anyone else at the time. Wien’s dire warnings however were not missed, just ignored.