One World Trade Center: 15 years of rebuilding a landmark

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The twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center were iconic. They stood tall as a testament to the strength and abilities of the humans who built them, and to both the city and country that they called home.

The north and south towers officially opened in 1970 and 1971, respectively. The nearly-identical buildings were the tallest in the world until being surpassed by Chicago's Sears Tower in 1973. The north tower stood just six feet taller than its counterpart.

Look back at the twin towers and the World Trade center through the years:

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The World Trade Center, Twin Towers and skyline through the years
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The World Trade Center, Twin Towers and skyline through the years
Manhattan Island showing at the left foreground the incomplete World Trade Center, New York, New York, 1971. The towers were, at the time, among the tallest buildings on Earth. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) New York: Airview of one of the two towers of the World Trade Center, as workers put into place steel sections which brought the building to a height of 1, 254 feet thus making it the world's tallest building. The Empire State building three miles north is 1,250 feet tall.
(Original Caption) New York: Views of the World Trade Center (both of its twin towers still under construction) and Manhattan skyline views taken from New Jersey shore.
16th March 1971: The twin towers of the World Trade Center (World Trade Centre) under construction in New York City. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Aerial view of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center during its construction in lower Manhattan, New York City, 1971. (Photo by Carsten/Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The recently completed World Trade Center twin towers with Staten Island in the background, New York, New York, August 5, 1972. (Photo by Gene Kappock/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - 1973: The original World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City in 1973. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)
Lower Manhattan in New York City, USA, with the twin towers of the World Trade Center on the left, circa 1975. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Seen from the New Jersey shore, fireworks at the Statue of Liberty light the sky as New York City celebrates the Declaration of Independence bicentennial anniversary, on July 4, 1976. The display ended a day of festivities in the New York Harbor, with boats and tall ships from across the world gathered for Operation Sail. Lower Manhattan with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center is seen on the right. (AP Photo)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 26: Aerial view of lower Manhattan with the World Trade Center twin towers. (Photo by Jon Naso/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 30: Residents are out for a stroll on a warm spring day along the Esplanade in Brooklyn. That's the Brooklyn Bridge and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in the background., (Photo by Evy Mages/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
The twin towers of the World Trade Center rise behind a flower bed in New York City's Battery Park August 12, 1999. (Photo by Brian Cleary)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 22: Airview of New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty at left and the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the background at right. (Photo by Susan Watts/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
One of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center is seen from the ground up, 1985. (AP Photo)
The lower Manhattan skyline is shown in the August 30, 2001 file photo, with the World Trade Center towers at center. Both towers were destroyed September 11 when two hijacked commercial airliners crashed into each tower. Both towers later collapsed, killing thousands. REUTERS/Enrique Shore JP
Aerial photo of lower Manhattan taken on June 11, 1999 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The twin towers of the World Trade Center can clearly be seen at center left. The large island just off center is Governor's Island, directly below it at bottom of the image is Liberty Island, which contains the Statue of Liberty. To its left is Ellis Island. Data collected recently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) equipment helped to produce 3-D images of the World Trade Center site in New York, where crews continue their recovery and cleanup efforts. REUTERS/NOAA-Handout HB/
The skyline of lower Manhattan in New York is seen in this November 10, 2001 file image. The U.S. Olympic Committee on November 2, 2002 chose New York City over San Francisco as its candidate to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. The decision was made after both cities put on presentations, with New York's delegation including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani making the case for the city still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files LSD/HB/GAC/JD
The lower Manhattan skyline is shown in an August 30, 2001 file photo (top), with the World Trade Center towers at center, and a in view taken from approximately the same spot on September 27, 2001, with both towers missing from the city's skyline following the September 11 attacks. This year's anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington will echo the first one, with silence for the moments the planes struck and when the buildings fell, and the reading of 2,792 victims' names. REUTERS/Enrique Shore (top)/Mike Segar (bottom)-Files HB/
NEW YORK - APRIL 02: A general view of the under-construction Freedom Tower on April 02, 2012 in New York City. The skyscraper being built to replace New York's Twin Towers is about to be hailed as the city's tallest building. The new Freedom Tower reached 100 floors on April 2, 2012, and once the 101st floor is completed it will stand at 1254 feet, four feet taller than the Empire State Building. This picture of the famous New York skyline shows how the Freedom Tower is about to take its historic place as the city's new giant. Once it is completed in 2013, the Freedom Tower, also known as One World Trade Center, will stand at an amazing 1368 feet. The Twin Towers, built in the 1970's, were New York's tallest building until they were destroyed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The Empire State Building then became New York's tallest skyscraper, but now the Freedom Tower is set to regain the title for the World Trade Center site. New York Port Authority revealed that would happen within weeks. PHOTOGRAPH BY Laurentiu Garofeanu/ Barcroft USA /Barcoft Media via Getty Images
One World Trade Center with unfinished construction and repair caused by Hurricane Sandy damage. View from W downtown hotel. (Photo by Viviane Moos/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW WORLD TRADE CENTER, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/10/17: The New World Trade Center in the New York City skyline. Tourist view from one of the cruises that goes to the Statue of Liberty. At 1,776 feet tall, One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Developed by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, this building sets new standards of design, construction, and prestige, and heralds the renaissance of Downtown Manhattan. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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The towers were destroyed in the September 11 attacks, killing over 2,000 people that were within their walls or in the area at the time. In addition to the tragic and unfathomable loss of life, the collapse of the towers caused health issues, worldwide financial problems and severe damage to the surrounding World Trade Center buildings.

The process of cleaning up the rubble of the collapsed towers was a tedious one, and cleanup efforts were deemed complete on May 30, 2002 -- nearly nine months after the attacks. From there, decisions had to be made on what kind of structures would fill the vacant space left by the twin towers as Lower Manhattan was rebuilt.

See how the World Trade Center changed each year on September 11:

17 PHOTOS
Rebuilding the World Trade Center: 15 years after 9/11
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Rebuilding the World Trade Center: 15 years after 9/11

A group of firefighters walk amid rubble near the base of the destroyed south tower of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. In the worst terror attack on the U.S. mainland in modern history, two hijacked planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and a third plane hit the Pentagon, across the Potomac river from Washington. REUTERS/Peter Morgan

Family members of the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center gather around the Circle of Honor at the base of the site of the attacks on the one year anniversary of the attacks, in New York, Wednesday, September 11, 2002. (AP Photo/Mike Segar,pool)
Family members of the victims of the the attacks on the World Trade Center enter Ground Zero to pay their respects, September 11, 2003 in New York. U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday commemorated the attacks with subdued events of remembrance, as his government warned of possible bigger terror attacks. REUTERS/Stephen Chernin/POOL SC/GN
People gather at the World Trade center site in New York City, September 11, 2004 on the third anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers. This year, it is the parents and grandparents of World Trade Center victims who will read aloud the names of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Family members make their way down a ramp to the site of the former World Trade Center during ceremonies marking the fourth anniversary of the attack of the twin towers in New York September 11, 2005. Families of victims of the collapse of the World Trade Center were allowed down to two pools of water placed on the ground where the buildings once stood. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn GMH/VP
People gather around a reflecting pool at the bottom of the Ground Zero site of the World Trade Center on the fifth year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, September 11, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin World Trade Center towers in New York September 11, 2007 on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The first steel beams of the new Freedom Tower being constructed on the site are seen in the foreground. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES)
FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2008, file photo, cranes at left are set up above the foundation for One World Trade Center in New York on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 will be the 14th anniversary of the attacks. Nearly a decade and a half after hijacked planes hit the World Trade Centerâs twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa., the anniversary is still marked with observances around the country. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin towers on the eighth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, September 11, 2009. Families of the victims are gathering at the annual ceremony to remember the attacks that killed more than 2,700 people with the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
Police and firefighters surround the reflecting pool at the World Trade Center site during 9/11 remembrance ceremonies in New York, September 11, 2010. REUTERS/Don Emmert/Pool 
The North Memorial Pool, with 1 World Trade Center under construction at rear, is pictured during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York September 11, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Deutsch/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANNIVERSARY DISASTER)
Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
World Trade Center 1 looms over the north reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York September 11, 2013. REUTERS/Allan Tannenbaum/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
An American flag marks the name of a loved one at the North Pool Memorial site in front of 1 World Trade Center during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Family and friends of those who died read the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Robert Sabo, Pool)
The One World Trade Center building on the early morning of the 14th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks, on September 11, 2015 in New York.. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
The World Trade Center. New York.
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A 1,776-foot-tall skyscraper, initially called the 'Freedom Tower,' was pitched as the new One World Trade Center (a title formerly held by the north tower). A ground-breaking ceremony was held for the building on April 27, 2006.

Eight years later, on November 3, 2014, the new One World Trade Center was completed, a shining beacon of the hope and resilience of the American people in the wake of tragedy. The skyscraper, which is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, overlooks the reflecting pools and museum of the 9/11 memorial, as well as the rest of the new World Trade Center area.

More anniversary coverage:
Source: US House to vote on bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudis
CNN's 9/11 documentary footage gets updates 15 years later
Sorrow, selfies compete at New York's 9/11 memorial 15 years on

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