Cover image for Twin towers : the life of New York City's World Trade Center
Twin towers : the life of New York City's World Trade Center
Gillespie, Angus K., 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 263 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NA6233.N5 W674 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
NA6233.N5 W674 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
NA6233.N5 W674 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Folklorist Angus Gillespie examines the development and daily life of the World Trade Center in New York. He covers how the engineers solved complex problems, and the contrast between the architectural community's disdain and the public acceptance of the towers as a symbol of New York.

Author Notes

Angus Kress Gillespie is an associate professor of American Studies at Rutgers University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Among the most widely recognized of human-made structures, New York City's World Trade Center is both beloved for its photogenic skyline presence and vilified for symbolizing bloated bureaucracy and heartless modernism. These two books comprise initial attempts to flesh out the WTC's history, appraise its place in 20th-century architecture, and judge its success as urban design and economic planning. Neither author is an authority on architecture, city planning, politics, or economics, and both treat the WTC itself as a backdrop to the political maneuvering that made its creation possible. Gillespie (American studies, Rutgers) pens an absorbing account incorporating personal interviews and observations, exuding enthusiasm and empathy. In striking contrast, Darton's (cultural studies, Hunter Coll.) study brims with irony, invective, and irrelevant digressions. Where Gillespie sees the New York Port Authority, the WTC's parent, as a powerful agency struggling to fulfill its mandate to facilitate transport and commerce, Darton sees the undiluted evil of unaccountable government officials in pursuit of ignoble ends. The same events are given diametrically opposed interpretations, and a few facts appear to be in dispute. Gillespie examines the tower's planning and construction in far more depth, but both he and Darton take the same superficial approach as Tom Wolfe in From Bauhaus to Our House. For now, architecture librarians will remain better served by Anthony Robin's The World Trade Center (1987). Large urban planning collections, however, may want to add both Twin Towers and Divided We Stand as a lesson in contrasting interpretation.--David Solt‚sz, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Like Karl Sabbagh's Skyscraper (1990) or John Tauranac's The Empire State Building (1995), Gillespie (Rutgers Univ.) seeks to distill the complicated processes of development, design, and construction of tall commercial buildings in New York City into an engaging narrative for the interested lay reader. These studies have helped to fill a great vacuum in the literature on one of the nation's most distinctive, character-defining forms on the landscape. Gillespie's choice, the World Trade Center, ranks among the most ambitious and challenging projects ever undertaken. Even before its completion in 1976, this immense complex became a popular icon of the city, one of its most photographed, visited, and remembered landmarks. The author explores not only the WTC's fame, but how it has been reviled by architecture critics and historians. By examining many other aspects of the Center's evolution, Gillespie creates a well-rounded picture of how the project was conceived and executed, and how it is operated and used. Gillespie's style is journalistic, at times breezy. He falls short on analysis of the meaning of this audacious endeavor, but he presents an informed and easily readable story that many people fascinated by skyscrapers will appreciate. All levels. R. Longstreth; George Washington University

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 3
1 Political Background: The Uneasy Alliance Between New York and New Jerseyp. 16
2 It Can't Be Done: Overcoming Obstacles in Building Tall Towersp. 54
3 Erecting the Towers: It's One Story After Anotherp. 86
4 Winning Acceptance: How a White Elephant Became Prime Real Estatep. 124
5 Architecture: Beloved By All Except the Expertsp. 160
6 The World Trade Center Concept: Not Just Another Office Buildingp. 180
7 A City Within a City; Or, a Day in the Lifep. 202
Notesp. 235
Indexp. 255